We woke up early once again (I feel like every post starts with this sentence! Terrible, right?) in order to make our 8am train from Amsterdam to Koln, Germany. Cedric was off to Toulouse to finish up some school stuff, so Jed and I continued from here on. Once we were in Koln we took another train to Koblenz. Since everything was going smoothly so far, we made sure to ask for directions to the boat dock at the river where we were planning on taking a riverboat from Koblenz to Bacharach, where we’d be staying for the night, in order to see the many castles on the way down the river. The attendant told us that it was an easy ten minute walk to the river: just go straight and then left near the river for a “while” until you hit the dock. So that’s exactly what we did. We got the river, walked to the left for a while… and came across many docks but all of them were closed. We walked back and forth for about two hours within the same kilometer stretch next to the river, sure that the dock had to be somewhere close. Once we finally asked, we were told that if we just walked another 300 meters we’d see the dock. We saw the boat, ran up, and were told to go down to the NEXT boat. Finally, we made it on two hours later than anticipated, and the ride was even free with our rail passes.
We made our way to the front of the boat to get the best view. Jed braved the cold longer than I could. I ran out front each time we were passing a castle – which was about every thirty minutes, or every 5 kilometers. The river and its surroundings were gorgeous. Tons of vineyards lined the way, with impressive rows of trees that almost looked like art. It really was picture perfect! Each town that we passed along the river had the name of the town largely printed on the concrete that lined the river so we knew where we were. We did the math and realized that our 40 kilometer ride to the castle could take quite a long time, so after two hours on the boat, we hopped off and walked to a nearby train station. As we got to the small station, there was already a train stopped on the tracks. Jed told me that this was the right one, but of course I didn’t trust him and stopped to look at the departure times listed. As the train pulled away, I realized that indeed it was the correct train. Jed told me that I should be thankful that he didn’t kill me right there, or else nobody would’ve known that I was dead for about a week. This place was in the absolute middle of nowhere. I then expressed that I really did have absolutely no idea where I was in the world at that moment, so he drew me a little map that you’ll see down in the slideshow (it was VERY helpful).
Since we had an hour to kill until the next train, we walked into town to see if we could call and reserve our hostel for the night. A helpful hostess let Jed use the phone to call – one thing out of the way! An hour later we were on the train (I didn’t hesitate this time!) with plans to get off at Lorch, a stop directly across the river from Bacharach. As we were getting off I asked the train attendant how we could get across the river to our hostel. “Across the river? Hahah um… Good luck! Maybe walk down a while…” she said as the train began to pull away. So once again, we began to walk for a “while.” And by a while I mean 2 hours. Is there a common theme for today? I think so. Within those 2 hours, there was plenty of laughter, plenty of losing our minds, and plenty of rain. Once again I went into a local restaurant to ask for help. I asked the host, “Sprechen Sie Anglisch?” He replied, “Ein bisschen,” and then told me in perfect English that the ferry we needed to take across the river was just 50 meters down the road. Haley & Jed: 0, Germany: 2.
So of course, we made it to the ferry, we made it across the river, and we made it to the train, which we took back to Bacharach since we had walked so far down. Once we got off the train, I told Jed that there was no way I was hiking up to our hostel, so we took a cab. We arrived at 8pm, just as reception was closing. We went to our room to set our stuff down and were pleasantly surprised with a rather large room with a bunkbed, beautiful views, a sink, a table, and GUMMY BEARS on the pillows. We were deliriously happy, but we were happy, and that’s all that mattered. After a bite to eat downstairs, we motivated to walk down to town and do something, since we made it all the way here. Rick Steves suggested wine tasting (he’s been very helpful on this trip!) so that’s what we did. We took the 10 minute hike down from our castle (did I mention that our hostel was actually the die Jugendherberger Stahleck Castle, sitting on top of a hill overlooking the Rhine?) to town and went into a little local restaurant and began our wine tasting adventure. We tried 15 different wines – 14 white and 1 rose – and noted which ones we liked along the way. After a great end to a terribly long day, we hiked back up, repacked a few things, and passed out immediately.
In conclusion, our first day in Germany was absolutely terrible – transit-wise. The country itself is beautiful, but transportation troubles made it difficult to focus on our surroundings rather than our exhausted bodies. We still had the next day to look forward to in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, so we still had hope.
pictures: (1) me on the deck of the boat (2) castle on the way (3) another castle (4) vineyards (5) cute city on the way (6) Jed telling me what an idiot I am (7) really Jed? are you sure? (8) Jed’s map of where we are in the world (9) Jed still angry (10) our view from our hostel room (11) overjoyed by the gummy bears (12) wine tasting (13) happy Jed (14) happy Haley