Wednesday, September 09, 2009
Bacharach, Rheinstein Castle, and Cologne
Click any picture to visit the flickr page with the rest of the set!
For Labor Day weekend J and I had hoped to do a nice, long, European adventure, perhaps to Amsterdam or Prague or Austria, but since we needed to have our rental car back Monday morning, and had things to do on Friday morning, that really didn't leave us much time. Also, apparently we need to get a special pass to drive in Austria AND our friends there were busy. So we stayed in the general area and did some exploring.
When we took our Rhine cruise, we passed a little town called Bacharach that we wanted to visit, so Friday after our errands we drove down the river. Driving down the river is not nearly as scenic as taking the boat, and some of the castles you can't even see from the road! But while the boat took 3 hours to reach Bacharach, we were there in about one hour. Unfortunately it was raining.
Not the best day for touring, but it wasn't too cold so we braved the rain and hiked around the vineyards, old towers and ramparts, and took pictures of the ruined church that is now an amphitheater. Back down in the village (full of lovely half-timbered houses) we found an inviting little restaurant for lunch where the owner spoke English.
While eating our lunch, J happened to notice a few photos and a signed paper above our heads on the wall. Upon closer inspection it turned out to be a signed photo of Gackt the Japanese Pop Star! Apparently he had been visiting the town while shooting a movie, and the restaurant owners got a picture with him and a note from him! How random! The owner heard us talking about it and showed us a collection of photos that the production company had sent of Gackt around Bacharach. Small world!
After lunch the rain began to lessen, and we decided to climb up to the castle we had driven by on the way there. As we arrived the rain stopped and the sun came out!
I LOVED Rheinstein Castle. It is a small, cozy castle high on a cliff above the Rhine, with two lovely garden courtyards with fantastic views. It's a museum now, with the rooms decorated as they were for the Archbishop of Mainz. The pictures of this fairy-tale place speak for themselves I think!
Saturday we drove up to Cologne, to see the huge Cathedral and some art museums. Unfortunately we got a late start, and hit rain on the way, so we didn't reach our destination until after 2pm. J had never been to a Gothic Cathedral before, (not even St. Patrick's in NY!) so this was a big deal for him! The cathedral is awe-inspiring, and we enjoyed the stained glass, but it's not in my top 5.
After the cathedral we had lunch at a Mexican/Italian restaurant with horrible service. That's one thing somewhat annoying about the "No Tipping" thing here. The servers already get paid by the hour, and people don't generally tip, so there is no incentive for them to be nice to you. It took us over an hour and a half to get an order of fajitas and a burrito. At least the food was surprisingly decent.
After lunch it was getting late and we only had time for one museum, so we visited the Wallraf-Richartz Museum. This impressive museum houses artwork covering every genre from the 13th century through the 19th century, but has an especially large collection of medieval devotional artwork (which I was not particularly interested in). We need to go back so we can visit the Ludvig Museum that has an amazing collection of art from WWII onward.
We took a detour through the German countryside on our way home.
Sunday and Monday were spent going to BBQs, doing laundry, going to my knitting group and the grocery store, and studying in the park for our German class.
at 9:39 AM