Having recently explored the boundaries of our German Coronavirus cage from north to south by bicycle, we thought travelling from west to east might also be a good idea. This time on the water. Germany has many rivers and canals that make this possible.
The plan was for H and I, together with mein Schwiegervater Roland, to take a river cruise ship from Trier near the Luxembourg border and travel downstream on the Moselle river to it’s confluence with the Rhine. Then travel upstream on the Rhine and branching into the river Main. Then using the Main-Donau Canal to cross over the Central European watershed to join the eastward-flowing Danube.
07.09.2020 Berlin to Bielefeld
Train from Berlin to Bielefeld. H was held up in Berlin and caught a later train. Overnight was in the Bielefelder Hof near the station.
08.09.2020 Trier to Cochem (Moselle)
Train to Cologne then Trier. Trier, unusually for Germany, has some old Roman ruins. We had no time to see much though and only saw the big Porta Nigra Roman gate through the taxi window on the way to the cruise ship pier at Riol. Almost all our fellow passengers were also ancient ruins but we expected that and this trip was mostly for the benefit of our own ancient ruin, Roland. Cruise overnight down the meandering and highly vinyard-terraced Moselle.
09.09.2020 Cochem to Koblenz (Moselle)
Woke up moored in the old tourist town of Cochem and we met up with Heidi and Wolfgang. Heidi is the sister of Roland’s late partner Retha. Wolfgang brought an electric wheelchair for Roland to get around but it turned out not to be needed much. I used it myself mostly to scatter pedestrians in the old streets.
We arrived in Koblenz in the evening and moored near the Deutsches Eck at the confluence of the Moselle and the Rhine.
10.09.2020 Koblenz to Rudesheim (Rhine)
We strolled along the embankment to the Deutsches Eck. This is a huge equestrian statue of the Prussian King Wilhem I erected in 1897. It is, or was, a monument for the unification of Germany in 1871. The original statue was destroyed during WWII and it’s 1993 replacement then became symbolic of the re-unification of Germany following the fall of the Berlin Wall.
We took the nearby cable-car across the Rhine up to the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress which overlooks Koblenz. It was just a quick look as the ship was leaving but it could do with more time someday.
The afternoon was spent cruising up the castle-infested Rhine including the fast-flowing part of the river near the Loreley rocks. Overnight was in Rudesheim with an early departure the next morning.
11.09.2020 Eltville (Rhine)
A nice sunny day. A stroll around the medieval streets of Eltville and coffee and cake at the Glockenhof. This being Germany, the coffees were laced with schnapps and the cakes prettily decorated with marzipan roses.
At the city of Mainz, the Rhine is joined by the Main and we continued upstream on the Main through the big city of Frankfurt.
12.09.2020 Miltenberg and Wertheim (Main)
Miltenberg is a historic-looking place with many medieval timber-framed buildings. They seemed to have survived remarkably well considering the flood high-water markers on the side of some of them. There is a lot of attractive local red Triassic sandstone used in the buildings that are not timber-framed.
Roland bought some Leberkäse (a bit like Spam but not from a tin) from a Metzgerei (butcher’s) and ate it in the street, all the while complaining he has no appetite.
13.09.2020 Würzburg (Main)
Another nice old town. The residents were enthusiastic burners of witches in the past. The town apparently had some war damage but it all seems to be fixed now. We sampled the Federwiesser wine which is a seasonal, white, cloudy, new wine. Good stuff but a bit light on alcohol. It doesn’t travel well as it is still brewing and the bottles can’t be closed without risking explosions. Roland had some Weisswurst. This is a big, unpleasant-looking, white sausage normally found only in the south of Germany. It is eaten with sweet mustard. It takes some getting used to.
14.09.2020 Schweinfurt and Bamberg (Main)
At Bamberg the Main joins with the Main-Donau-Kanal. This canal connects the Rhine river system with the Danube system effectively linking the North Sea with the Black Sea.
We had a wander around the streets of Bamberg for a couple of hours in the hot sunshine and had another Federweisser.
15.09.2020 Nuremberg, Schleuse Dietfurt (Main-Donau Kanal)
Nuremberg (or Nürnberg locally) is famous for Nazi rallies and post-war Nazi trials. We didn’t look at any of the Nazi stuff in town but we did take a look at the outside of something a bit older, the Kaiserburg Nürnberg, an 11th century castle then we wandered down to the main market square and the river. In need of some local refreshment we found the Trödelstuben restaurant and had beers and Nürnberger Bratwurst. Back on the ship we had to cancel lunch as we were full.
We were told that the Danube doesn’t have enough water depth for us to go all the way to Passau so we will probably be returning to Berlin from Regensburg.
16.09.2020 Kelheim, Regensburg (Danube)
Kelheim is at the junction of the Main-Donau-Kanal and the Danube (Donau). We jumped off the ship here and taxied in to Regensburg as we wanted to get an earlier train than would have been possible waiting for the ship to arrive. We did get some time to visit Walhalla to the east of Regensburg first. A very strange place which is very convincingly like the Acropolis and overlooking the Danube. It is filled with marble busts of famous Germans. That just about describes it.