Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Trip to Rhine Valley, Germany (July 2016)

When I hear Rhine River or Rhine Valley, I remember Lorelei. We heard the legend story and sang a long about it.

According to German legend, there once was a beautiful young lady, named Lorelei. She threw herself headlong into the Rhine River in despair over her faithless lover. Upon her death she was transformed into a siren and people could her singing on a rock along the Rhine River, near St. Goar.

I was excited about the opportunity to be on that Rhine River at last.
The Rhine River flows through the Rhine Valley. It stretches 1,320 km from the Alps to the North Sea. A significant portion of the Rhine Valley forms the border between France and Germany. Major cities have been established along the river or close to the river, including Koln, Bonn and Frankfurt. The Rhine Valley is a storybook Germany, a fairy-tale world of legends, including the Lorelei legend. It is also packed with castles, whether in use or left barren. Reportedly, there are 35 castles in the so-called Rhine George.

The Rhine Gorge is a popular name for the Upper Middle Rhine Valley, a 65 km section of the River Rhine between Koblez and Bingen in Germany. It was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in June 2002 for a unique combination of geological, historical, cultural and industrial reasons.

We visited two of many towns in the Rhine Valley via a cruise liner on the Rhine River: St. Goar and Boppard.

St. Goar:    St.. Goar has gained fame due mainly to its closeness to the Lorelei Rock, but it also has many charms. One of them was cuckoo clock factory shop.

A cuckoo clock is a typically pendulum-regulated clock that strikes the hours with a sound like a common cuckoo's call. There also are automation cuckoo bird that moves with each note. Some move their wings, open/close the beak while leaning forward, whereas with others only the bird's body is leaned forward. This has been in use since the middle of the 18th century and this was originated from the Rhine Valley.

We visited a cuckoo clock shop where the largest cuckoo clock was still in use in front of the shop. The lady who explained about the types of cuckoo clocks and how they operate was obviously passionate about cuckoo clocks.

We also stopped by a shop where all kinds of beer steins were being sold. Literally for every profession or vocation you could find beer steins. Well, they are for the beer drinkers like the Germans. But, it was amusing.

I found a postcard that showed a statue for Lorelei with a poem "Lorelei" by Heinrich Heine in Korean. Quite interesting!

We walked around the town for a while enjoying some Gothic style buildings and things of interest.

We got on board a boat that would cruise on the Rhine River and take us to Boppard, our next destination. Along the river, we found several castles. Some have been left barren but others are currently in use, like bed and breakfast. The Rhine River was running with pretty strong current thanks to ample water flowing from the Alps. The river side scenery was spectacular with picture-perfect color harmony with blue, white, green and chocolate colors.


We found many vinyards along the river, even on steep slopes. They must be supplying good grapes for making wine. Also, trains were running along the river. The view from trains must be different.

Boppard:     After one hour of cruising, we arrived at Boppard, one of major towns along the river. The town was bigger than St. Goar and streets were packed with shops, restaurants, cafes and bars. We saw a church and many tourists who carry numbers on their breasts. They must be Rhine River Cruise passengers.

Rhine Valley is well known for its vinyards and fine wine, particularly ice wine made of only frozen grapes. We participated in the wine tasting and it was an experience.

Obviously, a short visit to the Rhine Valley would not be enough to understand and make any sense out of this beautiful and history-rich area, but it was good enough to make me feel like coming back, Lord's willing. - Jeffrey

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