Thursday, August 17, 2006

Rhine, Germany Road Trip: Koblenz, Stolzenfels Castle and Boppard

So I am doing this road trip from the Netherlands. This will be my first road trip on my own. I have gain enough courage and have followed my new passion, travelling. My late superstitious grandmother have told me before many times, “Because you have a mole on your feet, you wil go places.” Hmm…

Koblenz, Germany

View to the Church of our Lady in Koblenz.

First stop: KOBLENZ

The city of Koblenz is 2000 years old and is situated strategically between two great rivers, the Rhine and the Mosel. I would have thought that Koblenz was impressive, and although I enjoyed my time here, it did not really held up to my high expectations.

I was brainwashed by what I read on internet forums about how majestic the Rhine River is and that it is a must to take the whole day boat trip (to and fro) from Koblenz all the way down to Bingen. The reason to this are the magical castles along the river banks, the pretty villages, the nature expanse, the rock cliffs and mountains, they are all simply breathtaking, well catch22 – if the weather is good.

This is the route for the first leg of my road trip on the Rhine:



After this leg I am going to the Mosel area.

Since I arrived a bit late in Koblenz, I missed the last boat trip that leaves around 14:00. The next day I did some driving along the Rhine River going south and I thought to myself, why would a (boring) slow boat ride be better than a car journey along the River Rhine?

It is true that with the boat you can see both sides of the river banks, you can freely take photos of course, and you can buy time to gawk at the stunning castles and lovely scenery. But to me, I realized that the car was much more fulfilling. I have more freedom. I also have endless opportunities to stop, enjoy the scenery and take photos.

In addition, I can easily swing from one location to another, village to village, castle to castle, than say, being imprisoned for 4 to 5 hours inside a one-way (or retour) Rhine River boat ride. There is just no flexibility and I do not like that at all.

Ehrenbreitstein Fortress

Ehrenbreitstein Fortress

Koblenz

The river bank views.

Koblenz Germany
Baldwin Bridge

The Baldwin Bridge

Here are my Koblenz visit highlights:

1) I was rained down while checking out interesting places in Koblenz and got stuck in Deutsches Eck together with the other Asian tourists.

I don’t know though if those Asian men were on a business trip here because they were all dressed sharply in their business suits. Or were they really real tourists, just dressed in business suits (I mean why?!) with cameras in tow. Well, judge for yourself.

2) I got a parking ticket (was this a forewarning to the imminent major Luxemburg ordeal?!) and I had to go to Sparkasse Bank to pay. Yeah right, go spark my ass. I am being sarcastic because the bank charged me with a €3 commission on top of the parking ticket penalty.

3) I received a lot of stares from people because I am alone wandering around the city center. I got more stares when I had dinner, alone.

People kept their steady gaze towards my direction, like I am suddenly an interesting living specimen to inspect and ogle. Is my hair too big? Did my mascara smear across my face? Or, is it the first time for people to see a woman traveling and dining alone?

4) I lost my way back to the hotel after dinner. I took the wrong exit and ended up in the dark highways leading to the village of nowhere.

A combination of being a woman, not a local here, unfamiliar of the roads and the environment and driving alone in the dark highways with death defying cliffs and river valleys, well very late into the night, is for sure not a good idea. Or I am just not used to this. Not yet.

I got really uneasy. Alarm bells were ringing in my ear and I was desperate to find a place to exit or turn around. In my mind – What if someone will suddenly stop me and put a gun on my head? I watched to many bad movies as you can see.

Well, I got safely back to the hotel that night. I had to remind myself to take it easy as this is my first road trip.

Koblenz Picture Gallery:

Koblenz
Koblenz

Typical half-timber house in Germany.

Koblenz
Equestrian statue of William I

Equestrian statue of William I, Emperor of Germany on the Deutsches Eck.


The Asian tourists in suits.

Deutsches Eck and Dikasterialgebäude

At the Deutsches Eck.

Koblenz

The many sights of Koblenz.

Koblenz
Koblenz
Koblenz Churches
Jesuitenplatz

Jesuitenplatz (Jesuit Square).

Ludwig Museum

The Ludwig Museum.

Second Stop: STOLZENFELS CASTLE

The next day, I went searching for the village called Marksburg on the other side of the Rhine River but I couldn’t find any road signs leading to this place. My ANWB map didn’t also indicate the town, perhaps it’s a minuscule town? So instead, I went back to Koblenz and headed towards the direction of Boppard, St. Goar and Bacharach.

On the way to Boppard, I saw a road sign saying, ‘Stolzenfels Schloss’ (Stolzenfels Castle). I read about this small elegant castle on the internet with interest, so I made a quick decision to check it out before proceeding to the other river towns.

Stolzenfels Castle
Stolzenfels Castle

The inner courtyard of the castle.

Stolzenfels was built around the 13th century by Archbishop Arnold II von Isenburg of Treves. After numerous battles in the area, the Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm IV rebuilt the castle in pseudo-Gothic style for his Bavarian spouse Elisabeth and himself.

The walk to the castle took approximately 15 minutes. The roads were paved so it was quite a leisurely walk going up. About almost halfway to the climb, I realised that I hadn’t really paid for parking. Does this ever happened to you? It is annoying. So I stopped and debated with myself --- Was the parking free or not? Argh, I could not remember! Geez, for a 36 years old, I am so getting old. I ran back down to the little village parking lot and frantically looked for the parking ticket machines, when I saw a big blue P sign. A big blue P sign means its FREE parking.

*Sigh of relief* I would really hate to go to another Spark-my-ass bank, but I wasted an almost half climb to the castle!

Upon arrival in the castle entrance, I noticed that they have a castle tour. Since I was so taken by the enchanting beauty and mystery of this castle, I decided to join the tour. I think I paid around € 2.60. The tour was in Deutsch, and the courteous tour guide gave me a plastic laminated sheet which explained the tour details in English. Well, I partly understood some Deutsch words so I didn’t felt out of place.

The whole castle tour lasted an hour. I’ll have to give credit to the tour guide though. He was a humorous eloquent middle-aged man who took his job very seriously. At first glance I thought he could pass as a gigolo or those playboy types with their fast cars. He has that look, the body and the personality, you know somewhat sexy, masculine, rugged, and dangerous. So during the whole castle tour, I kept wondering to myself, why on earth did he settle for such a humdrum job as this?

Nevertheless, I totally enjoyed the castle experience. Even though the skies were a bit grayish, with intermittent sun rays and rain showers, the view from the top of the castle was still spectacular. Outside, by the castle entrance, a sign said that guests must not film and take pictures of the interiors and fixtures of the castle. Aha, when it’s forbidden, it becomes very, very tempting, haha. Many actually took pictures and so did I! My bad.

Stolzenfels Castle Picture Gallery:

Stolzenfels Castle
Schloss Stolzenfels

The castle sits on top of a little village. There is car parking on the river level near the village.

Stolzenfels Castle
Stolzenfels Castle

 The beautiful inner garden courtyard of the castle.

Stolzenfels Castle View
Stolzenfels Castle

Views from the castle to the Rhine.

Stolzenfels Castle
Stolzenfels Castle

One of the lavish royal rooms at the castle.

Schloss Stolzenfels
Stolzenfels Castle

The castle is very unique with its glaring tangerine orange colour.

Stolzenfels Castle
Stolzenfels Castle View

Third Stop: BOPPARD

After visiting Stolzenfels castle, I went to Boppard, the first big town that you meet coming from Koblenz on the west side of the Rhine River going down south.

Boppard, like Koblenz, is also 2000 years old. The charming little place proved to be a very pretty one and thankfully the sun was out but not for long though which is a letdown. Just like the Rhine River stretching from Koblez all the way to Bingen, Boppard is also a UNESCO world heritage site.

Boppard

Beautiful half-timber houses in the city centre.

There were many beautiful and colorful half-timbered houses standing proudly in the town square which are typically German in design and architecture I believe.

I wanted to stay longer and perhaps drive further on to St. Goar and Bacharach but my schedule does not permit me anymore. I must turn around and head over to the Mosel River valley, where the vineyards, more castles and striking villages await me for my next road trip agenda.

Picture Gallery of Boppard:

Boppard

Boppard has many of these lovely half-timber houses in the city centre.

Boppard, Germany
aldtstadthaus - Wein Haus Romer-Burg

The Aldtstadthaus in natural slate stone is also wine house.

Boppard, Germany
St. Severus Church

The St. Severus Church in the town centre.

Boppard, Germany
Boppard, Germany

Boppard's charming town square.

Boppard, Germany
Boppard, Germany

Travel Period: August 2006
Destination: Koblenz and Boppard, Rhein-Hunsrück-Kreis (Rhineland Platinate), Germany

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Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

All pictures were taken by a point and shoot pocket camera or a smartphone.

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