Today [December 23rd] was spent wandering in the vineyards across the Rhine from Bingen in Rudesheim. I took the boat over the river and began a steep ascent through the vineyards to the monument to Germany freedom built in the 19th century.
View of Bingen from Rudesheim
There is a commanding view of the Rhine valley from that vantage point.
The impressive monument was built to celebrate the reunification of Germany. From there I walked the the Neiderwald temple built in late 18th century. It was a favorite place for intellectuals like Goethe to gather and musicians like Brahms and Beethoven. This was also destroyed in the bombings but recently restored.
More sights of Rudesheim are here.
Then a lengthy walk to the Abbey of Saint Hildegard that was built in 1904.
Bingen was on the Camino to Santiago!
Road sign pointing to the Abbey
The monastery vineyards
Road side shrine
Next: the abbey.
This morning [December 19] we left Mainz and drove to Rudeschein where we boarded a boat for a cruise on the Rhine river that the Germans regard as their river. The cruise gives a wonderful view of the many castles and towns that line the river.
The Lorelei rock has a legend that tells of a beautiful blonde woman who would lure sailors to their death. The fact is that this is the most difficult part of the river to navigate so in truth many boats shipwrecked because of strong winds.
Die Lorelei by Heinrich Heine (in German)
More about the Lorelei song, which has been set to music many times
More about the Lorelei cliff itself
There are many ruins of castles on the river and there is one castle named Pfalzgrafenstein, which was constructed in the middle of the river as a place where customs were collected. Although it dates back to 1325 its present look is due to the Baroque renovations of the 17th and 18th century.
We finished our cruise of several hours and then took the bus back to Rudeschein. Once again the Christmas markets were much fun because of the festivity that surrounds it all. And the streets of Rudeschein were very medieval and highly decorated.
Towards late evening we had a wine tasting since the hillsides of this part of the Rhine are covered with vineyards. Then, back to Mainz in the late evening.
The tourist brochures speak of this cruise on the Rhine as a cruise of stunning vistas of hilltop castles, terraced vineyards, and villages of timbered framed houses. This is no exaggeration: the vistas are beautiful, with hilltop castles.