Long barge

We left Heidelberg immediately after breakfast for Mainz where we would board a boat for a cruise on the Rhine to Rüdesheim

It would be in this gorgeous little town where we would spend the night and then back on the river to Koblenz for 2 nights after which our group tour would come to an end. We were really looking forward to the cruise as it is such a relaxing and gentle way to travel and one can really see the scenery, which in Bavaria is positively stunning.

Long bargeA long barge with vineyards behind 

We did not divert from our set route today but we did stopover in the lovely city of Mainz where the Main River flows into the Rhine (or Rhein as spelt in German). We had approximately 2 hours to wander around Mainz before the boat left. We discovered that in this town and along this area of the Rhine, pink is a very popular colour for buildings. In Mainz a most imposing but beautiful building all in pink was the Baroque design St Peter’s Cathedral. In front of the Cathedral was a circle of concrete seats each with a design of a portion of the Cathedral sculptured into one side of it.  On other parts of the seat were sculptures of religious settings such as the Crucifixion. This was surrounded with a most beautiful garden of flowering, late Summer, yellow and white daisies. It was such an attractive setting in its simplicity.

Carving of Cathedral in a blockCarving of St Peter’s Cathedral into a stone block

Mainz Town HallMainz Town Hall

 When travelling one often looks for the well-known tourist attractions or the most striking buildings but we have learnt so much in our travels of the last 10 years. What has brought us most joy are the little things around the corner that one does not expect to find or has not heard of previously. Mainz was one of those towns. It had some very beautiful fountains, a small 2-coach train to take visitors around the city and lots of pink buildings. There was one very imposing palace-like pink building which we later learnt to be the Gutenburg Museum.

Gutenberg Museum

Gutenberg Museum

Tourist train called Gutenberg ExpressTourist train called the Gutenburg Express

At midday we boarded our boat which would take us on the first part of our Rhine cruise, to Rüdesheim. It was quite an interesting boarding as we had to walk through a boat which was moored at the pier and then on to our boat beside it. As usual, there is always one person who is late or seems unable to keep with the group and this time the lady literally very nearly ‘missed the boat’.  She could have had quite a problem getting to Rüdesheim as Jurg had already left with our luggage and would be waiting for us at the pier on arrival.

Our hotelThe hotel where we spent a night

What a relaxing way to travel from one point to another. The Rhine is a very busy river with barges and it was such a pleasure just sitting back and watching the world of Bavaria pass by. On each side of the river are kilometre signs indicating how far one is from the mouth of the Rhine which actually rises in Switzerland and flows into the North Sea at The Hague in The Netherlands. The banks were covered in vines in this area and at this time of the year were beautiful and green.  Another common site along the route were the churches of all shapes and sizes. We saw one in the shape of a boat on an island in the middle of the river and there were also some painted pink! There were also lots of castles or remains thereof.

Castle ruinsThe ruins of a castle on the bank of the Rhine

The trip from Mainz to Rüdesheim took approximately 2 hours and, as I have said earlier, Jurg was there waiting to take us to the hotel but instead of going directly there he drove us up to a view site topped by the Niederwald Monument which commemorates the Unification of Germany in the 19th Century. It was a beautifully clear day and we could see the town of Rüdesheim and the Rhine River stretched to right and left of us. There is a cable car which goes from the town up to the monument but it was not in operation when we were there.

Monument to Unification of GermanyStatue built in memory of the Unification of Germany 1871

Once unpacked some of us decided to wander around the town which is in the centre of a wine growing area. As a town it is over 1500 years old and was  first settled by the Celts. It has one very famous street called the Drosselgasse which is very narrow and always crowded. It is popular because of its old buildings and the bands which play there daily.

Historic stThe crowded street the Drosselgasse

At one end is a church tower with layers of bells and then, as we entered the main street again we saw a very tame little bird sitting in small hole in a tree. It allowed us to take photos and to get quite close without flinching. That was really special and another reason why I say that it is so important to be on the lookout for the small and interesting when travelling. It makes things so much more fun.

Tower of bellsThe tower of bells

Bird sitting on tree trunkThe friendly bird

At about 7pm 4 of us decided to try and find somewhere simple to have supper. We walked and walked to the far end of town until we finally found the only possible place – McDonalds! After a most unexciting supper we made our way back to the hotel. 

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