Rhine & Bacharach

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July 17th 2017
Published: July 17th 2017
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After I got to my hostel in Cologne around midnight, I realised that I was the only one in the dorm room. There was no luggage, clothes, or any sign that anyone else had come in. The hostel was like a large house with three floors, and I think the owner lived on the top floor. I’d asked the owner that morning if there were other people arriving and he said he was fully booked. The reception closed at 8pm though, so if people weren’t here by now then they wouldn’t be coming. Well that was enough to freak me out! I was instantly convinced that this was some sort of scam to rob/murder single travellers. I had a key to the room, so before I locked the door for the night, I literally searched every cupboard, wardrobe, under each bed, bathroom…basically the entire dorm. My mind was working on the basis that I definitely did not want to lock someone IN the room with me. The windows were those type that open in three different ways, so I locked the buggers and decided it was better to sweat for the night. I got ready for bed, went to the bathroom to brush my teeth, and saw that the sink drain stopper had a picture of a skull and cross bones on it. Who the f*ck wants THAT in their bathroom?! ….. so my brain jumped to the conclusion that I was probably going to be poisoned by the water supply.…obviously.

That night I slept with my multitool (thanks Nick), my keys, and a fork under the pillow. Yes, a fork. Well nothing exceeds like excess!

Anyway, absolutely nothing happened, and in the morning at breakfast, the owner said that he had waited in during the afternoon at the hostel for the group of people to arrive but they never showed up. ‘Shit group’…he said.

I think I just *may* have let my imagination get the better of me. Shame really, as I could have had a really good sleep in a room by myself if I hadn’t been in constant ‘prepared to stab someone in the gullet with a fork’ mode. Oh well.

That morning after breakfast I made my way back on the U-Bahn to the train station, and caught the train from Cologne to Koblenz. Well, at least I tried to. The train got about three stops in and then there was a load of German being spoken (absolutely no clue what) before the train started going in reverse back to Cologne. I found out (from a group of Irish people on their hols) that the they had been told there was a problem on the track and the trains weren’t moving until it was cleared. I got back to Cologne station, checked the timetable, and there was another train leaving for Koblenz in 15 minutes. There was no message to say that it was delayed or cancelled, and there were people waiting for the train at the platform, so I joined them. The train came in, I boarded, and there were no more problems all the way to Koblenz. Damn those Germans work quick!!

The train to Koblenz followed the Rhine river quite closely, and, the hostel guy was right! Apart from the river itself, there is nothing of interest to see along this stretch. A boat trip would have been a bullshit, rip off, waste of money. I started to feel a bit bad now about thinking him a thief/killer and preparing to stab him.

When I got to Koblenz station, I followed the signs for the Rhine and walked to the jetty for the boat cruises. The jetty had a notice on it that, due to the low ‘tide’ of the season, the boarding point was about 800m downstream. I started to walk (with TP of course), and as I was walking, I started to doubt my direction of travel. I had instantly started walking in the direction of the river flow… (downstream right?!).....and then the internal mental debate started. Are you SUUUURRREEE this is downstream? ....Yes! said brain…. Then……But what if it isn’t? What if the river flows upstream, so downstream would be the opposite way?..... Don’t be a knob of course this way is downstream! Why would it possibly be upstream? Rivers don’t flow up! …….and so on and so forth. But I stuck to my instincts, no thanks to you, Brain!...and FINALLY (knackered from about the 10 mile walk!...which was only really 800m) found the landing platform for the KD line river cruises. You would think though, that on a linear river, that whoever wrote that notice would have just said left or sodding right! I am asking too much for frigging arrow?!

I bought my ticket at the KD stand, boarded the massive boat, and found my seat for the next four hours on the top deck…..where the bar was located!

The boat trip was very pleasant and relaxing. We were now going UPSTREAM…. (i.e. AGAINST the current!) so the trip was fairly slow. The scenery was mostly green hills of forests or agricultural land, dispersed with castles and houses. Every half an hour or so you would come to a village and the boat would make a stop for people to get on or off. As luck would have it, I was travelling on a Sunday, so you could hear the church bells tolling all along the river. I got talking to two American women who were sat behind me. There was a woman in her late seventies and her sister in law, a bit younger. The older woman, finding out I was English, stated to tell me that she had lived in London for two years to study, and had also lived in Switzerland for the same. She lives in Virginia now but was originally from Germany. She still had a hint of a German accent. She said that when she was 16, she cycled along the Rhine from Bavaria to Cologne and back again. She said it took her two weeks in total. She said she saw a maximum of two cars per day, but plenty more young boys! She was coming back in her seventies to see the Rhine again, but this time by boat.

As nice as the river is, four hours cruising along it was enough for me, so I was glad to arrive at Bacharach – which is truly stunning!

Bacharach is a very old German village which looks, to me at least, like it shouldn’t even exist anymore. I got to the town and found my guest house (the hostels were all full so I had no choice but to book into a single room with an on suite and breakfast included….oh darn! 😉 ) then I took a walk into the town for sightseeing and dinner. I found a little courtyard with a restaurant in the middle, which was surrounded by the old buildings….and a wine cellar!

The town itself looks like a Hollywood film set, and not at all in the tacky way. More in the way that you can visualise Heath Ledger riding in on bare horseback (Hair in the wind and everything) and having a sword fight with the mean King (I imagine being played by Keith Allen) to save the beautiful long blonde-haired damsel in distress (generic skinny blonde-haired blue eyed cow) stuck in the tower on the hill – and yes, there is a tower on the hill! It’s a real life fairy-tale village.

I ordered a glass of wine, which was lovely and full-bodied and made in Bacharach, and asked the waitress if I could pay on card for dinner (running short on euros!). I regretted asking the question before she even gave the answer. Of course you can’t pay on card here – it’s still the 13th bloody century! They still trade in goats! Luckily, I had enough cash to order something I didn’t know and couldn’t pronounce, and it was actually quite tasty.

After dinner, I wandered around the town, and took a staircase up the mountain towards the tower. The views were amazing over the town and Rhine, and the higher I climbed, the nicer they got! I took probably a hundred pictures here, not wanting to miss anything.

When I climbed back down to the town, the restaurants had turned on all their little pretty lights and people were drinking wine in the courtyards under the hanging vines. It was beautiful, and I would definitely recommend a visit.

As it turned to dusk, I walked back to my room and took a nice long shower (with a proper towel!) before heading to sleep.

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