Bacharach is a town that went to sleep after the Romans left it. And it never woke up. It’s small and exists solely, it seems, to wrap itself warmly around a train station like a shawl. And to provide travellers a nice cozy spot to stay while daytripping the rest of the Rhine. It has other grandmotherly, qualities, too. One even involving a real, live grandmother and the case of the stolen strudel.
We rolled in to Bacharach on Rick Steve’s recommendations after leaving Heidelberg. Much of the day was spent waiting for, riding in, or changing trains. By the time we got to the town, we were ready to do some exploring. After quickly finding our hotel and checking in to the converted attic (seriously, we have pictures) we did a quick loop around the town and realized that our best hope was to check another nearby town on the Rhine so back we headed to Rudesheim.
Visitn Rudesheim, being on the far side of the Rhine, meant that we had to take a quick ferry to reach it. No problems there. We wandered Rudesheim’s streets and verified the tour book’s lament that it was indeed over run with tourists. And that is for good reason, the place is replete with bars and offering wine tastings. Both the full-bodied varieties you would expect from the region if you are such a connosier (which I am not) and the offering of the spring wine – something tasting roughly like pear juice, which I loved. A half dozen or so of such tastings and we knew it was time to find lunch.
Lunch was great. Much better fare than we had been used to and we took advantage of the weather to take a steep cable car ride to the top of a hill featuring none other than Emperor William Kaiser sitting on a throne looking forbodingly towards the West. The car ride was great, bringing us slowly and determinely over grape fields originally tilled by Roman hands. Jen didn’t like the heights or the bumps in the cabling. I laughed then but later in the trip fate would get me back.
We spent the rest of the time adventuring up and down Rudesheim’s cobbled streets negotiating the tight quarters with locals in cars and tourists on ridiculously over-decorated trams. A ferry ride and connecting train brought us back to Bacharach.
Like I mentioned before, the town is exceedingly grandmotherly. We tried a few restaurants but came back to one run by a real grandmother. Nice, honest food with a home made feel and of course, the best apple strudel that side of the Rhine. We got to know the owner pretty well after our repeated visits and she told us of life running the shop, the collapse of American tourism due to the economy, and what that meant for the riverside hamlets we were staying in. The most interesting story was about a young German lad she befriended and offered an internship to only to have him steal the secret famliy recipe for her prize-winning strudel! Luckily for her, she said it wasn’t enough to know the ingredients and amounts to add, you had to know the reasons to add them. And for that the thief’s strudel would always be second class. Interesting lesson.