Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Along the Rhine

Our boat returns to pick us up at St. Goar
Just across river from Bingen
We're now in Bingen, Germany, along the Rhine River, after a long drive much of it on autobahn, most of it in traffic around Frankfurt am Main. Today, we spent a beautiful day on a riverboat along the Rhine River, up and back, along a really beautiful section of the Rhine, from Bingen (home of Hildegard von Bingen, a 12 century Abbess, saint, mystice &seer, healer and outspoken woman for her day) to St. Goar and the Rheinfels Castle. This whole section of the Rhine dotted with castles, some dating from well before `1000 AD, and little towns dating back to before the Roman times. Most began with the true "robber Barons" who found good spots along the very busy Middle Age trading route, built "customs houses" to collect "tolls" and the castles to ensure that tolls were paid. A large chain was used to persuade ships to stop and pay up, otherwise, the chain would rip the wooden boats apart in the strong river current. It appears to have been quite a profitable enterprise. Many of the castles were property of various Archbishops and other well-connected individuals and were often the sight of many a siege or assault. Vineyards have been here since the Romans came here before the Current Era. We were also lucky to have a break in the otherwise dreary, cold fall weather with partial sunshine for much of the trip. Beautiful fall colors of the deciduous trees along the river added to the specialness of the day. The day topped off with a wonderful meal on the boat, some local wine and a coffee with local brandy. Tom even managed to get in a visit to local museum for the last 1/2 hour which had an exhibit on the writings of Hildegard. Tomorrow we head toward Cologne, and then on to Amsterdam, arriving on Friday. We want to have a few last days in Amsterdam for sights missed in the earlier visit. We saved a few museums until this last week. It doesn't seem possible that this wonderful trip is almost over, but it will feel really good to get back to the motor home, our friends and family, our comfortable bed, and the recliners and the internet. We've about run ourselves into the ground.

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