A couple of weeks ago, we headed out with some friends for Rhein River cruise. This part of Germany is pretty stunning. The Rhein is, and has been, a major transportation route for hundreds of years. It flows from the Alps in Switzerland north to the North Sea, meaning that it is a cheap, efficient way to move goods between the interior of Europe and the coast. It also has a climate perfect for wine! The middle Rhein (roughly between the Frankfurt area and Cologne) is lined with vineyards, castle ruins, small towns, and stunning scenery.
We cruised from Bingen to Sankt Goar. On the map, they are only about 30 kilometers apart, but the cruise up took about an hour and a half. Unfortunately, forecast high for the day was roughly 105°F and the boat didn't have air conditioning, but it did have lots of windows that allowed a nice breeze in when we were moving. Nevertheless, it was still hot.
As we traveled north, we passed a number of castle ruins. Germany used to be comprised of many small ''kingdoms'' (for lack of a better word), and the castles were a way to ensure that the appropriate tolls were collected along the river. Today, they are majestic ruins sitting atop the hills, overlooking vineyards, small towns, and the river. Many of them are open to the public to explore. The boat we were on had information on each castle that we passed in German, English, and Italian.
We disembarked the boat in Sankt Goar, one of the cutest little towns I have ever seen. Our destination (after lunch of course), was the castle on the top of the hill. Check back next week to see pictures from this awesome castle we were basically free to explore!