Where the Rhine and Mosel Rivers come together.
Well, now that the group trip is over, it is kind of tough to remember the first couple of days, especially the first day. It seems so long ago. But first, before I get into the specifics of day 1 of our group trip through Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, France, and Lichtenstein, let me just say that it was an amazing trip. I saw snow-covered mountains, beautiful lakes, castles, forests, and had some experiences and saw some places that I will never forget.
First was breakfast. The cafeteria people had packed our breakfast the night before, so I was eager to see what they packed. It was rather interesting. A cheese sandwich, a ham sandwich, an apple, a Capri Sun pouch for juice, and…a Snickers bar. Now everything else I can understand, but a candy bar for breakfast? Oh well, I ate it anyway.
The bus we would use for the trip pulled up, and I climbed in with everyone else. The driver was a great guy, he was always positive and very skilled at showing me he really could fit the bus through some places that I was sure he could not get in through.
the schedule was a stop at the Deutsche Eck, which is where the Rhine and Mosel Rivers join together. It had a giant statue and the point between the rivers with flags along both sides, like in the picture. The statue was pretty bad proportionately, and if I am saying that, then it must be pretty obvious. It was a nice spot, but I was looking forward to the cruise, and can't remember much about the Deutsche Eck.
Next on the schedule was a cruise down the Rhine River. We made it to the landing area in plenty of time, after driving the entire morning. The cruise was about an hour long, and was really nice. There were forests to look at, lunch to eat while on the boat, and castles every so often to take pictures of. Right before we had to get off the boat we passed a statue of the Lorelei, who, according to legend, was a girl from the Rhine Valley who sang so beautifully that passing sailors crashed their boats on the treacherous river rocks after her.
After the cruise the bus met us and took us to the Residenz Palace. The palace
was the home of a series of Prince-Bishops who ruled the area. The building itself is a large Baroque structure, painted inside with Italian-style frescoes, with gardens all around the outside. It was entered into the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1981, and is a lavish example of over-the-top decoration and embellishment. We had a short tour there which left some things to be desired, but we did not have much time to spend there anyway.
After the Residenz, the bus took us to Rothenburg. Here we would spend the night at the Roter Hahn Hotel, and see the medieval Criminal Museum the next morning. The hotel was a couple of blocks from Market Square, the center of town, so a good location inside the town walls. Evidently this is a big tourist town, because there were a lot of shops around. My Rick Steves pages informed me that this is a big Christmas shopping destination, which would make sense if anyone wanted anything medieval. Not even cars were allowed through the streets!
I would be remiss if I did not mention dinner before closing out this day. The salad and bread were okay, but the highlight
was venison goulash, which was basically pieces of venison steak in a gravy with a sweet red sauce (I am guessing that it was mostly berries and wine) to go on top, and noodles to mix into everything else. It might sound kind of strange, but it was really good. It is deer-hunting season in Germany right now, and the waiter said that the meat was fresh (I hope so!), so that made it even better. Well, that and the red sauce. After that I went out and took a few pictures that did not come out well, and went back to hotel for some sleep. End of day one of the group trip.
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