We woke up at 8am this morning, our last morning in Amsterdam. After getting ready for the day and last minute packing, we went upstairs for breakfast. As usual, we enjoyed a wonderful breakfast of croissants, rolls, eggs, juice, cheese, fruit, and tea. Brandon really loves the eggs.
We said our goodbyes to Helene and Sjord, signed their guestbook and gathered up our luggage. We caught a tram to Central Station to catch the ICE train at 10:34. We only had to wait about 20min for it to depart.
ICE train pulls into Amsterdam Central Station.
Brandon got a window seat on the train. Katrina and I both had aisle seats. The seatbacks are so high, its hard to see out the window in front of you. I didn’t have the best views.
Last night I bought some treats for our train trip, candies from a bulk candy store. Apparently my idea of good candies differs greatly from Brandon and Katrina. They didn’t like most of what I picked. They ended up going to the diner car to find some food. I guess I get all the candy treats.
The ICE train was not as fast as I had hoped. It cruises along pretty well, but not much faster than the highway cars we pass occasionally. We crossed into Germany without any fanfare. Border crossings are not big deal in most of Europe anymore. The part that bums me is that I can’t even get my passport stamped to show where we have visited.
Brandon was hungry as usual, so we visited the dining car so he could get a blueberry muffin at e1.90. That’s a deal considering we paid e2.50 for a donut last night.
We arrived in Dusseldorf at 12:52, about 10 min late. Our connection to Koblenz was scheduled to leave at 12:58. Thankfully our connecting train was scheduled for the same track. It arrived, we hopped on and were moving before we even found our seats. We are on a double deck commuter train now, heading down into the Rhine River Valley.
On the train as we head into the Rhine River Valley.
Apparently I fell asleep because Katrina woke me up when I snored loudly, somewhere near Bonn. The train was warm and the smooth motion makes me sleepy. Katrina and Brandon read for most of this leg of the trip.
We arrived in Koblenz at 2:45 and changed trains one more time. After a few brief moments of ‘is this the right train’ confusion, we left Koblenz and headed to Bacharach. Rick Steve’s guidebook has a self guided tour for the train ride from Koblenz to Bacharach. We all changed to the river side of the train and watched for the kilometer posts that corresponded with the tour. The tour showed us quite a few magnificent castles as we followed the Rhine.
One of the castle ruins along the Rhine River.
We arrived in Bacharach at 3:30. You have to know when you stop is coming up and be ready to get off the train. At most stations the train only stops for a few moments. If you don’t get off fast, you may end up on your way to the next town.
Bacharach was once prosperous from the wine and wood trade. It is now just a pleasant half-timbered village of a thousand people working hard to keep its tourists happy.
We are staying that the Rhein Hotel. Our room is very nice and very spacious. We settled in and went out for a late lunch.
Our room at the Rhein Hotel.
We found Café Burg Stahleck just up the street. Brandon had some chicken soup. I had Jagerschnitzel with fries and a German beer.
Katrina had Flamkuchem.
After lunch we found a small grocery market and bought several types of cheese, a box of crackers, a bottle of Riesling wine and some Coca Cola. We bought it all for dinner in our room this evening. Our room has a refridgerator, so we can keep snacks and drinks.
After dropping off our groceries, we headed down to the river to see about river cruises for tomorrow. We will be taking a river cruise to St Gore at 10:15 in the morning. From the riverfront park we followed Rick Steve’s walking tour of Bacharach. It was a very interesting tour. We saw and learned facts about the park, the medieval wall surrounding the town, the 5 remaining towers, the Altes House which is the oldest house in town – dating back to 1368, some of the old Roman wells and much more. We also followed a trail up the hillside through the vineyards to one of the old wall towers.
Beautiful old town of Bacharach.
The wine barrel signifies Bacharach's importance in this wine producing region.
Two of the old wells in town.
The grape vineyards above town.
Sundial painted on one of the town buildings. Can you tell what time it is?
The chapel ruins.
Riesling vineyards above town.
Views from the vineyards.
View of Stahlbeck Castle from the vineyards.
At the end of the walking tour we found the trail up the mountain to the Burg Stahlbeck Castle. It was quite the difficult and humid climb to the top. The castle (burg) is now the Jugendherberge Stahleck hostel inside a 12th century castle on the hilltop. It commands a royal view from the top. We wandered around the outside of the castle a bit, then headed back down the mountain, past the old shell of a chapel and into town.
Brandon loved that this cat wanted our attention and followed us a little ways up the hiking trail.
View from 3/4 of the way up to the castle.
Castle tower and stone bridge leading to it.
Brandon took pictures of us in the courtyard. This is the best of 7 taken.
View looking south from the castle.
View looking north from the castle.
Hillside vineyards across the narrow valley.
Old chapel ruins up close.
Cool showers and our cheese, cracker and wine dinner awaited us. The cheese was great. The wine wasn’t so great. We’ll have to try another one tomorrow. Brandon ate almost a whole package of sausage all by himself, sharing a few with us to enjoy with our cheese.
We were tired and ready for bed before 10pm. A good first day in the Rhine River Valley.