Visiting the "Romantic Rhine" region had been on our bucketlist for years, home of the sweet whites and storybook castles. In fact, it had been on our bucketlist for so long, I no longer really care for sweet white wines. This region still turned out to be one of our very favorites. On the way we stopped in Cologne to tour the gothic Cathedral, the Kolner Dom, famous for its sheer size. Also on our list- Kolsch. Brewed solely in Cologne, it is the only place to have a truly authentic Kolsch. The Dom was magnificient, the Kolsch was very tasty, the lunch was... eh. Being a pescatarian at the time, I soon came to learn that the German menu had very few options for me. This lunch was my introduction to Kartoffels, which we got to know quite well over our eleven day stay in the country. We soon realized they made an appearance somehow in every meal, whether front and center or hidden beneath salads. Kartoffels came pickled, baked, mashed, fried, sauced, sliced or diced. In this particular meal they were breaded, fried, and completely soaked through in oil. I decided to stick to the beer instead. Jason was happy with his sausage and side of Kartoffel salad. Hello Germany!
We arrived during the shoulder season, before the town is taken over with tourists. The streets turned out to be completely empty and we had the tiny medieval town of Bacharach all to ourselves, only spotting a few locals when we really looked hard for them. Tucked into a bend of the Rhine River, the sleepy little town was probably the most storybook of anywhere we explored on our European adventure.
After a full day of traveling on trains and checking into our Airbnb (top floor apartment in the town center with a view of Burg Stahleck) we knew we immediately needed wine, so wine we did. We tasted twelve wines served as a flight on a carousel while enjoying the last of the day's sun, sitting on the patio of the highly recommended Weingut Fritz Bastian. We agreed that every single one was delish!
The next day we rode the ferry along the Rhine River and then traveled by milk train to the town of Moselkern up the Mosel River. Moselkern is an even tinier Medieval town that appeared to be completely vacant, not another soul in sight. We followed our very nondescript directions (to the tune of- walk 100 steps and turn left at the red door) out of town, along a creek, and through the forest to Burg Eltz. Let me just say, listening to songbirds while following alongside a meandering stream that eventually leads you over a stone bridge and right into a 12th century medieval German castle was one of the highlights of our trip. The Eltz family is still living in the castle 33 generations later. The Burg Eltz hike is a must!
On our second full day in Bacharach we rode the ferry to the ruined castle of Burg Rheinfels in Sankt Goar. Before exploring the ruins we had cocktails with a view from the rooftop bar. I would highly recommend this order of things- cocktails followed by explorations. We were like kids running through the ruins and we had the place to ourselves (pretty much everywhere else we went in Europe was completely overran with tourists). We had so much fun we almost missed the last ferry back to Bacharach and had to turn our hike into a downhill sprint. Hey, I had to figure out some way to sneak a run in!
While riding the ferry along the Rhine, you order your drink and then just sit back and watch as one castle passes by after another.
After returning to Bacharach late in the afternoon we hiked up to the castle we had been eyeing out of our kitchen window, Burg Stahleck, which more recently had been converted into a hostel. While the castle itself wasn't all that interesting, the hike was gorgeous and the lighting was perfect for taking photographs.
I also want to mention one of our favorite restaurants we found during our trip was Stueber's at the Rhein Hotel. We actually ate there twice. It was one of the only times we went back to the same restaurant twice. When we travel we usually try to go to a new place for every meal so we can experience more. Traveling nearly five weeks and eating out for pretty much every meal, we actually managed to follow this for the most part but the Rhein Hotel drew us back in for more. We got five star service, quality, experience, everything. On our last night, we also ducked into this very cozy and hobbit-like wine bar called Kurpfalzische Munze and finally found where all the locals had been hiding. The Rhine Region was very romantic indeed!
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