Fireworks on the Rhine Cruise

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September 9th 2013
Published: September 9th 2013
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Each bakery tries to outshine the last.
t's been a big day! I stayed in a little pension, which in this case means a few rooms above a business. My room was fine; I could turn around in the bathroom AND in the shower! However, the business below was a nice little open-air bar that had a party going until 4:00 a.m. I considered the addage, “If you can't beat 'em, join 'em”, but I just couldn't do it! I had breakfast on their little breakfast terrace. European breakfasts are always a little quirky to us Americans; there was an assortment of what we could call lunch meat, some cheese, and hard rolls. Cochem is a really pretty, traditional German town which sits on the edge of the Mosel River, and like most of these little towns, there is a castle on the hill above town. There's a song in there if you look closely, and you can bet I was often singing it. I wandered around town, soaking up the great atmosphere. They have a tram which takes you on a 45 minute tour around the place, so I hopped on and tuned my headset to “English”. It took us across the river to get a better view from a distance. Then I rode a chair lift to the top of the riverside cliff just to see the view. By mid-afternoon I was dragging my suitcase back to the train station to head to Bacharach, another traditional German wine town. While I was on the platform, waiting for my train, there was a group of 6 young men who were having a bachelor party. The groom was wearing a white paper painters' coverall, and they had made circles of different sizes all over this paper suit. Each circle had a certain amount of money written on it. The guys were soliciting women to buy a circle and cut it out with a little pair of scissors. The idea was that it would eventually expose most of him through the large holes, and he was wearing only underwear. For your donation, they were giving you a little bottle of some kind of liqueur. I had to be a good sport, so of course I got involved.They were very nice guys, and they enjoyed practicing their English with me. Most of them had an open beer in their hands, and I asked them if they could drink anywhere they
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I bought a 3 euro circle.
wanted. They said they could, and they were amazed that in our “land of the free” it would be illegal to be drinking on the train platform. In a few minutes, a security man approached them. I thought they would be in trouble for the beer or cutting the clothes off of this guy, but apparently those things were fine. Instead, he reminded them that they couldn't smoke in that area! That was pretty surprising to me, because most people smoke, and they can do it almost anywhere! The train route was beautiful with the Rhine on one side and steep cliffs of grape vines on the other. All of the grape growing and harvesting work is done by hand, and some of these cliffs are up to 60 degree angles. Most of these grapes produce white wine such as riesling, spatlese, eisewine, and gewurztraminner. When I arrived in Bacharach I immediately found my hotel and got checked in. I stayed at the Hotel Kranenturm, which was once a crane tower on the Rhine River. There was once a crane that was used to load barrels of wine on the Rhine ships. The crane tower has been turned into a very interesting hotel. I have a tiny little room in the tower, and the windows in the bathroom open out to the Rhine. It's really very nice. It was time to head down to the river to catch an evening cruise to see fireworks on the Rhine. I had made this reservation a while ago on the internet. They sent me a couple of emails, but since they were in German, I didn't know what they were saying. I ran them through Google Translate, but they still didn't make sense. There was a music/booze festival going on in the riverfront park, so I thought I would check it out first. I thought I had read that it was going to be a folk music concert, but it was a guy with a keyboard and taped accompaniment, and the first song I heard was “Pretty Woman.” I also heard several other American oldies and a couple of country songs. What a disappointment. I had a bratwurst of some sort, served to me by a girl from Missouri who had only been here a few months. Then I headed to the boat, along with a lot of senior citizens who looked just like any one in Fulton County, Illinois, over the age of 65. Americans may be fat, but Germans are trying to keep up. We cruised on the Rhine, seeing that nearly every small riverfront town has a very old castle sitting on the cliff above. Some of them are still beautiful and others are just shells. If they made it through the Middle Ages and Renaissance, they still had a couple of World Wars that gave them trouble. The views were wonderful. There were several of these cruise boats that all gathered near Oberweisel for fireworks over the river. Following that, I thought we would head back to Bacharach. As we were sailing along, there would occasionally be an announcement in German. I would always look around at the other people who boarded with me, but nobody seemed to be concerned about the announcement, so I always figured when they moved, so would I. Quite a while after I thought we were supposed to get off, and after a stop or two, I suddenly realized we were past Bacharach! I found a ship employee who could speak English, and he told me we had passed my exit an hour earlier. I later found out that the people who got on the ship in Bacharach with me, had actually been picked up earlier in the day and brought to Bacharach for the music fest before returning to the ship for the cruise and fireworks. So I thought these people would be returning to Bacharach, when they were actually going back to other towns. Panic! I realized how stupid I had been. I got off the ship at the next stop which was Bingen-Rudesheim. Music history folks...remember Hildegard of Bingen? Same Bingen, except it was midnight and they had several thousand people in the middle of a huge wine festival street party, with a live band playing “Hang On Sloopy” (I swear it's true!) I was alone, 20 miles from my hotel, and ready to come back to the U.S. I asked a group of policemen where I could find a taxi, and they suggested I try the next street. One of them also told me the last train would run in 1 ½ hours. The train station was quite a walk in the dark, and then there would have been another walk in the dark when I reached Bacharach. I went further into the street party in hopes of finding a taxi, but no luck. I saw a nice-looking middle-aged couple with a teen daughter and asked them where I might find a taxi. They said I would need to go the taxi station, but that I shouldn't walk there alone in the dark. So, they offered to take the taxi station. They were the nicest people, and made sure I was lined up with a taxi before they drove away. German people have been so nice and friendly. They totally remind me of Fulton County people! Very common, good, hard-working people; my favorite kind! So I had a taxi bring me back to Bacharach and deposit me at the door to the hotel/tower where I'm staying. It cost me about $40, and it was worth every penny! At that point, I was considering how to cancel the rest of my trip and come home. Lack of knowing the language, and then traveling alone was not a good combination last night. However, I was back to my room safe and sound...thanks to help from several different nice Germans along the way. Now that a couple of days have passed, I am looking at what I wrote, and it really doesn't sound all that stressful. Believe me, it was!


10th September 2013

Good times in Germany
Sally, I had many good times in Germany, usually involving wine, beer, and food. Being a guy and 22 yrs old, if I didn't have a place to sleep, I just looked for a thicket and lay down on the ground. Only real trouble I got into was for hitch hiking on the Autobahn. "Was machen sie hier/ heir ? (Said the guy driving the Porsche with the red lights on it.) I got my first ride in a Porsche, to the next exit. Noel

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