Early our first morning we headed over to the KD boat line launch and purchased hop-on-hop-off tickets that would allow us to visit side towns as we wanted to. We would later find that our incredibly expensive
week-long German rail passes would have been accepted but there are no refunds in Germany. We boarded the boat with many other tourists already aboard from further up-river. The conductor played tourism tapes cued to mile markers on the river. The recordings were often difficult to hear as tour guides would preach on incessantly and indiscriminately over languages not on their own. Despite very much enjoying the ability to float down such a famous river, the other tourists made want to jump ship.
It wasn’t all bad. Reading about how so many Barons, Dukes, and minor nobles set themselves up in mini competing fiefdoms all along the river in order to best extort floating merchants for ‘tolls’ brought history to life. We learned about folklore and imagined tales not dissimilar from the Grimm tales being played out in all of the colorful multitude of riverside castles. It was no wonder the merchant class was the biggest supporters of rule under a single monarch in Germany – they were going broke trying to market goods along the time’s most major thoroughfare!
St. Goar Castle
Shortly after passing the famous Lorelei the tourists became too much and we disembarked for St. Goar. The main attraction here is the Burg Rhiensefeld castle which we thoroughly explored. At one point we bought a candle and matches and descended into tunnels dug centuries ago. As a defensive structure the tunnels were designed as a sort of honeypot for invaders. Attackers would enter the tunnels believing themselves stealthful. A notification systems would alert the castle owners when to light the match blowing the sequestered invaders to whatever God loved them best.
Still, the most memorable part of St Goar was the walk up to the castle – I took the long way and sweated for 45 minutes. And the run down to make our boat. I think we hit a new land speed record to make the boat.
Boppard and Other Stops
I can’t remember now but we got off the boat in Boppard for some reason. Whether that was general annoyance of the tourist-packed boats or disinterest in the cuisine being served we did. Sadly, Boppard was very small and they didn’t really like us at all. That was just as well, the citizens looked like they were just taking down stalls from a wine festival the previous week and there was nothing going on that day. We found a deli and had a good standing meal. Since we had budgeted more time to explore this disappointment of a town and a prepaid unlimited use rail pass, we took the train back upstream to catch the next boat rather than just wait around.
End of the River and Koblenz
Once back on the boat we sat back and watched as more storybook castles passed us as we floated by. The Rhine still does an amazing amount of commercial traffic and it was interesting to watch the long, low-slung boats carry their wares either making their way up from the Netherlands or down from Switzerland and Northern Germany. At this point there were not many people at all on the boat and the trip became peaceful. We snapped photos and consulted guidebooks but mostly just relaxed and enjoyed the moment.
Koblenz comes from a word meaning “confluence” and Koblenz is where the Rhine and Moselle. Sadly, it was late in the day and we didn’t have more than a few hours at the end of a workday to explore Koblenz but it is definitely a working, if not picturesque city. It’s hard to complain about a town not being tourist friendly when all we wanted all day was to be away from tourists so I’ll simply say that further evaluation is needed.
We found our train and took a long ride back to Bacharach. We would visit Koblenz again that week but just to transfer to points further west.