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Rudesheim is Sleeping

USA | Saturday, 6 March 2010 | Views [436] | Comments [2]

So apparently we thought the time-frame in between the previous two posts was longer than it was, and it turns out that this will be our biggest gap yet, but the chronology is only good in its entirety.

From Cologne we took the train to Frankfurt.  The tracks ran along the river Rhine (Rhein, here Germany), and we enjoyed our view tremendously.  The river is lined by small towns, all of them white-housed and church-steepled, with fields growing up the side of the hills.  The tracks ran along the water’s edge, two lanes of road next to that, the houses beginning next.  They sat behind each other until the base of the hill, but when it starts getting steep, the grape vines take over.  The Rhine is famous for producing its grapes that become its famous wine.  Wine and castles, which brought the wine.  Apparently it was the Romans who started buliding the castles along the river, taxing all who passed by, bringing the grape with them.  Which must be why the farmers continue to grow their crop on such an incline, forced to harvest their produce by hand and tend to them the old-school way.  Some of these castles are from the 13th century, and they look it, but none of the intimidation has been lost.  We watched all of this passing us by, on our way to Frankfurt, falling in love with it.  Ferry boats chartered across the water, taking people to one another, so close but just far enough.  We wanted to stay, to become grape farmers, to look at the Rhine every single day.  “Let’s get off here,” Michael said, as we pulled into one of the little towns.

But the train does not wait for those who are contemplating homelessness and hunger, and our tardyness cleared out inspiration.  We had not seen any hotels, but of course as soon as the train pulled away we passed four of them right next to each other.  We vowed to go back.  Michael copied down the name of the station, and we hunkered down for the remainder of our trip.

What followed completely wiped out the romanticism of living on the edge, whimsical decisions, and utter independence.  The attempt at closing the half hour trip back to the little town of Rudesheim completely undid us.  We needed to connect at a neighboring station, and that alone took an hour and a half.  Every last train bound for Weisbaden was delayed by fifteen minutes, then ten more, and we were going crazy.  “What is going on with Weisbaden?”  But information insisted there was no problem.  “We were just standing there and the Weisbaden destination became another city.”  No, couldn’t be, they told us. I saw it with my own eyes!  No, no, Weisbaden in fifteen minutes. 

Well, we made it to Weisbaden, finding out that we had forty-five minutes to eat some lunch/supper.  And when it came time for our train to arrive it did not.  We both took turns asking the information desk. “Rudasheim?”  Michael’s response was the shaking of the head and the waving of the hands, a dismissal of sorts.  Rebecca’s response was ‘bus’.  Bus?  I bought a train ticket!  We sat on the bench on our previously-designated platform and waited.  A train wound up arriving.  The power shut off, the conductor came out.  Michael chased him down.  “Do you speak English?” he asked, desperately.  The conductor did.  He explained that there was a storm that had knocked out the power to the trains.  We were satisfied with that news, as it brought about some explanation, and we left the station then.  Outside it was windy and overcast, that bright dark blue-grey that comes with massive storms, the fluffy white clouds wrestling over one another, casting down on us their energy. 

     That is how we got to Weisbaden.

     It did not take us long to find somewhere to stay. We were blessed with a room that normally cost twice the amount, and was meant for more than three.  We do not know why she gave it to us, but it was like having a living room again, and we were happy. So happy that we stayed another night.

     Finally, we worked up the nerve to try our inspirational return to Rudasheim.  We got on the train just fine, no delays.  We did wind up passing our stop, as you can only read the station signs once you pass them, and were afraid that we had another hour until the next small town, but it wasn’t so.  We got off and on another train heading back as soon as we could, and finally stepped foot in Rudasheim.

     We quickly found out that the entire town was shut down.  Totally and completely closed.  All restaurants, all hotels.  There were two open hotels among twenty, and of the two only one had a semi-decent price with a view over the river, the other with an outrageous price and no view. We did a complete circling of the town and wound up back at the first hotel.  It was then that we found out Rudasheim is a famous town, as are most of the ones along the Rhine.  And they all go to sleep in the winter, waiting for spring to usher in the big crowds.  We were exceedingly grateful to be the only tourists, and by ‘only’ I mean ‘only’.  The first two nights we went to eat, we were the only people in the restaurant.  The other nights there were no more than two other people.  We are pretty sure we spent at least half of our nights here as the only people in the hotel.  Speaking of which: we were going to settle for a single room at a much better rate, breakfast and wi-fi included.  The receptionist was so concerned about our choice (“You know it will be small?  Single is little, for only one person.”) that she upgraded us to a double, with a view of the river.  We haven’t gotten a deal this good the entire trip.  And the whole town to ouselves!

     Of course on our first, full day (after the day of arrival) we decided to tackle the vine-covored hills.  They were amazing.  The views were spectacular. While it seems that the view would be nice in the summer time, the hills all covered in fluffy grape leaves, we agreed that we preferred the stark winter arrangments.  The green stripes of the grass in between the tan and brown rows of vines really showed how many there were, and the paths they took higher and higher.  There was a monument we were aiming for, and while it seemed that it would have been impossible to get that high, we made good time and took plenty of pictures.  The final climax of our climb was about four hundred steps, the mother of all ascents.

     The monument was erected in the 1800s, after a war the Germans had with the French, and the Germans won.  Rebecca’s personal attachment to it was her grandfather’s first name, inscribed in large letters at the base of the monument, which stretched tall and wide, a Statue of Liberty of sorts.  We do not know what her grandfather’s name had to do with the story, but for a moment we felt close to home.

     Michael, the ever-brave and humble soul that he is, asked an older couple to take a picture of us.  He always consults his wife, and she always answers the same...”Oh...I dunno.”  He always gets the picture, and plenty of smiles too.  It’s the same with directions. We could be hundreds of miles from where we are supposed to be, and Michael will be saying “I think we should ask somebody” and Rebecca will either pretend not to hear or do the same, “Weeeell...”  Michael always gets his directions, and never loses face for doing so.  Somebody else, on the other hand, would be miserably lost and lonely if it went her way.

     This particular time, the older couple, a very grandparently couple, chatted with us a few moments.  We learned the story behind the monument, marveled at it and the beauty around us, and talked about potential sites to see.  When we said our goodbyes, they came back to us, asking our plans for the afternoon. They then took us on a drive further up the Rhine, stopping for us to take pictures, and escorting us up the side at the narrowest part of the river, where it was said that Lorely would look down brushing her long blonde hair, causing the captains to run their vessels into the rocky walls.  We learned about the castles called Cat and Mouse, brothers who fought like it too, a relatively short distance between them.  They dropped us off outside of our hotel, said they enjoyed their time, and we thanked them profusely. 

     On our second day we conquered the hills again, but this time for a different reason.  At the top of one of them, not too far from our little town, was a castle.  And we were going to hunt it down.  The sun shone brightly and warm, beautiful spring weather.  They da before had been fairly bright, and mostly warm, but accented by a crisp wind that chilled to the bone.  Our journey to the castle started on train tracks, and we talked about people who got stuck walking along like we did, and with all the trains passing through it was a bit creepy.  We sat on a ledge and felt them pass by, speedy and powerful, shaking the earth and blowing crud in our eyes. 

     The ascent this time was more pronounced, and we feared getting run over on the skinny, turny roads by any of the farmers we had seen parked by their land.  We watched fearless individuals driving tractors in between their rows, and shuddered to think of the potential mistake, which sums up that word in its entirety.

     The castle was masterfully barricaded, but otherwise unguarded.  Our attempts at trying to find a way in were probably no more creative than the average hoodlum, but attempted none-the-less.  We discussed our options if we had a decent length of board, or the guts to attempt a hand-over-hand climb to a tantalizingly open window about ten feet up.  Okay, so we had the guts, but not the iron phalanges.  We did a full circle of the castle, turning our heads from the plunge below us, but with no luck.  Unsuccessful but undefeated we began the long trek back.

     Our breakfasts here have been superb.  The first day we thought we had died and gone to somewhere where we had a lot of money, as not only did we set up our own time to eat, we came down to a nicely laid spread in front of the window, with someone at our shoulder asking what we needed.  Turns out the special service was because we were the only guests, but on the other days when we used the buffet (with no sign of another guest) we still had someone asking if there was anything else we required.  We could stay in Rudesheim for months upon months, with our separate pots of coffee, three-minute eggs, and the best honey in the world.

     The fouth morning was overcast and chilly, and we did not lament holing up in the room.  We went for a short time to visit the wine musuem a bit down the road, which turned out to be in the oldest castle along the Rhine.  We went from room to room, display case to display case, sipping wine from Rudesheim and listening to an audio-recording.  However, the ancient castle was by no means heated, and it was actually warmer outside.  Our room was a safe haven when we returned from the Weiner Grill, where we got our take-out supper.

     Today we woke up to the hills dusted in white.  Apparently it had snowed all night.  We had stood outside in the dark, swathed in blankets, watching the flakes come down heavy and wet, blurring the lighted castle directly across the river from us.  When we awoke it was hard to imagine this place had been the bright and cheery one from 48 hours ago.  It had become a winter wonderland, cozy indoors and picteresque out of them.

     We leave tomorrow morning to continue our discoveries.  The time here has been good, refreshing, what we want from this trip, but the future only keeps coming, and one day very soon this will all be in the past.

   

Comments

1

You guys should check out www.couchsurfing.org . I have literally spent half an hour to an hour hearing about how great it is from someone who has "done Europe" as a couchsurfer, and I trust her. And if you're planning on being over there for a while yet, I bet you could find at least a few hosts who'd be happy to have you (thus saving you some hassle and some bucks).

I love reading about your adventures... Be safe and have fun!

  Lea Mar 7, 2010 3:13 PM

2

Now, on to the 'fun' stuff! Enjoy my family; wish I was there.
As always, good read. Much love & prayers.

  MOM Mar 8, 2010 11:03 AM

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