Travel to Baden-Baden

It was checkout time at Im Malerwinkelbut our train didn’t come until 11. We decided to take a break and finally enjoy the outside coutryard of the hotel with a shandy from the honor bar.

Before we left I finally got my answer on how they maintain the steep vineyards. While they do walk up and down looking at the vines they also have this handy contraption.

After our morning shandy we grabbed our bags and walked down to the train station, saying goodbye to Bacharach and the Rhine. Since I waited too long to book our tickets the so the only seats left were first class. Our first long German train ride was going to be in style. We come to find out later that it is only slightly nicer in first class, but very quiet. Not sure if warrants the extra cost. I guess if you have money to burn then all means do so. I think I will continue to book 2nd class in the future – with a seat reservation. Our journey is to be 2.5 hours with a stop in Mainz. For this train trip we weren’t yet familiar with the ins and outs of the train cars (although that wouldn’t matter later).  In Bacharach it was easy since it was a regional train and we simply took and seat in the small first class section on the train (no reserved seat). While waiting for our train in Mainz for the longer leg I was challenged in trying to figure out what edge of the platform to stand on. I searched online but could not figure it out. When the train arrived we discovered the numbers outside the cars and we were pretty far away from ours. Instead of running down the platform and risking missing the train, we chose to hop on where we were and walked through about 10 cars before we got to ours. Warning – this approach will not always work because some trains have engine trains in the middle of the train that you cannot walk through. See example below in the top right corner of the sign.

When we finally arrived in Baden-Baden we look for the bus to take us to the city center area. Again working off vague instructions and bad maps we found the bus and guessed what stop was appropriate to take. By the way, the bus was quite busy the couple times we took it. It didn’t make for easy travel with luggage. The hotel suggested a taxi, maybe?

We dropped off bags at the hotel and freshened up. Of course we were hungry. We didn’t do much research on places to eat and were suckered in by the “lively” looking Bavarian beer garden. We ended up eating there and it ended up being a tourist trap; and we should have known better. The waiters were not really caring if we were there or not and the garden was quiet and boring. And the food was just blah. But if you saw this guy below in a moment of weakness you might eat there on a whim.

tourist trap

my blah meal

After our crappy meal we wandered around town a bit. The tourist office was closed but the hall that housed it, Trinkhalle, had some nice art outside.

There was also some nice sightseeing around town.

At the end of the evening I decided I wanted to get a piece of black forest cake. All the “recommend” bakeries were closed for the day so I settled on an outside cafe where I received another round of bad service. The cake wasn’t terrible though. I am not loving Baden-Baden so far.

The boat ride

After the long hike adventure of the day before, we decided for a lighter activity the next day. The plan was to take a boat cruise to a town or two. After some research we decided to visit the town of St. Goar. There are two main cruising companies. Not really knowing the difference between the two we decided on the cheapest one initially. When we arrived at the dock people were gathered outside the ramp for the one we hadn’t chosen and no one was waiting at the one we had chose. We decided to go with the crowd since they seemed to be mostly German tourists who were probably in the know anyway. We purchased our tickets for the boat and waited for it to arrive. When you purchase your ticket they ask your destination but I am not sure how they tell when you get off the boat so I don’t think it really makes a difference in the trip.  We could have just stayed on since no one checks your ticket after you get on the boat.

When the boat arrived the crowd piled in and found their seats up above in the open air space or down below where they serve meals while you cruise. We were only on for cruising so we sat up above to get the best views. Upstairs there is a small concession where to could buy drinks and snacks for your ride but we saw many Germans bringing on their own “picnic” of sorts – cheese and fruit, and bottles of wine and beer. Carlos and I purchased a beverage for our cruise.

On the way to our destination we watched the towns and cliffs pass us by.

The boat had some commentary but most we couldn’t really understand. One I picked up on was the story of Loreley It is a large protruding structure rumored to be home to a beautiful blonde that would distract sailors and make them crash to their death (Siren).

 Burg Rheinfels

Finally we arrived at St Goar and the location of Burg Rheinfels. With no map handy we decided to follow the crowds through the town assuming they were heading there.

Eventually we arrive at an incline going toward the castle, cross some train tracks and up and more stairs to the castle.

We finally make it to the top and into the ruins. There is a long complicated history in the region and the museum helps you understand it better. it was the largest fortress in the Middle Rhein Valley between Koblenz and Mainz.

We took the boat back to our town and enjoyed the relaxing cruise back. We walked by this historic house turned restaurant the night before. Kurpfälzische Münze seemed lively the night before, of course no one was there when we arrived (early bird problems) but we were tired again and not going to stay out much later. We treated ourselves to a bottle of wine and a meat plate for dinner.

It was a nice last night to our stay in Bacharach. I look forward to coming back to the region someday in the future.

The rhine vineyard hike

The Rhine Vineyard Hike

Or what I like to call it, “when Carlos tricked me into hiking 13 kilometers (8 miles), mostly uphill.”
More on that later.
The Rhine Valley is beautiful and known for its romantic boat cruises.
The Rhine river was an important transportation river for trade and whatnot. Seeing the opportunity, many set up castles and villages along the river to “tax” the boats that would pass by. It all seemed a little robber-baron/extortion like; but with out that happening, none of these cute little villages would have been formed around the castles.
Also prominent in the area is vineyards on steep hills. The grapes are used to make the village wines. We decided to dedicate some time to hiking through the vineyards. The forecast for the day was overcast and rainy. We decided to grab our ponchos and go for it.
Preparing for the hike was kind of hard. The maps we saw at the city center weren’t too helpful.

Map example

Most pick a town and do the circular trails from the town. But we wanted to take a trail from town to town and no maps really mapped that out clearly. We decided to google map it out before we left and determine that the next closest village was 4 km away and determined it was a good distance for me. We also dipped into the tourist office before we left to get some not so helpful maps. Finally we stopped at the grocery store for snacks and water. Due to the expected rain I decided to leave my DSLR back at the hotel.

Not really helpful

We had a hard time finding the start of the trail because there was construction going on around the trail head and an odd donkey path sign. We finally found what we were looking for and started up the stone stairs. We ended up going down the path of the trail that is basically part of the town loop to get to where we wanted to go. We could have started left, the slow glide uphill or right, stairs after stairs after stairs. We started right of course. Not on purpose, at least on my part. At least it gave us a great view of the town from this lookout point.

4 km into the hike, close to the next town, we realized the town we were heading to was not on the train route. If we walked to this town then we would have no idea how we would get back to ours (other than walking back the way we came).

At some point we decided the only way was forward to the next town on the train route – 8 more km away.  All while following the handy red wine trail signs and random chicken signs. I also thought I heard dub-step off in the distance. Skip the hike for mid day dance party? I never did really determine where the music was coming from so we just moved on.

It was lonely since not many others took this trail. And we did have some rain. But the light mist was welcome since it wasn’t enough to make things muddy and kept us cool along the way.

The views were beautiful

Pretty steep vineyards. I later find out they have a machine to help with this.

At some point my bladder wasn’t waiting anymore. There wasn’t much area to go “in the bushes” but no one else is around so I went to some brush. The only time we saw some serious hikers (only 3) it was only minutes after I had my bathroom visit. Whew close call!

So basically the up and down and pure distance of it all was more challenging than I was prepared for. I took many breaks and pushed through but times like in the picture below made me upset that we had to keep going down the mountain just to climb back up. The views were really amazing and I am sure I would have been singing a different tune if I was in better shape.

See that road across the way, we just went down it

Just when I thought I could go no more we reached the road that went down into the town Oberwesel. We walked by a couple where the woman was having a meltdown. Did her husband take her on a 12 km hike and her legs gave out? Who knows, I am just surprised it wasn’t me. I am known to have a meltdown or two when I am exhausted. This time I was good, tired, but good. We almost got tricked to hiking longer when we saw trail signs pointing uphill toward a castle. I send my husband to check it out and indeed it was trickery, the trail took us away from the town we were heading.

When in town we wandered around a bit aimlessly looking for a place to get a meal since we couldn’t handle any more walking around for a little while. After some back and forth we settled on a nice meal at the highly rated Historische Weinwirtschaft. It is located in the oldest half-timbered house of Oberwesel. The decor was very old world romantic. I definitely recommend it for a nicer meal if you are in town.

Fried blood sausage and apple slice on mashed potatoes

Pork loin in chanterelle cream sauce and spaetzle

After our meal (and wine) we stumbled back to the train station and took the short train ride back to our town. One would have thought we would just go back to the room and call it a day but it was still totally daylight out. The long days of Germany (5 am sun rise and 10 pm sunset) definitely threw us off. We decided to have a beer at the local Brauhaus.  Kleines Brauhaus is a beer garden in an old carousel. We had just enough energy to try one or two of their beers then go back to the hotel to pass out.

Creepy mannequins in the lobby of the attached theater. You had to pass by these guys for the bathroom.

Links of Interest

In German all the wine routes:
RheinBurgenWeg Touren

The hike we ended up doing:
https://www.outdooractive.com/en/long-distance-hiking/romantic-rhine/rheinburgenweg-11.-etappe-oberwesel–bacharach-nord-sued-/2807779/

Overview of the region

Arriving on the Rhine

After the delays at JFK we arrive in Frankfurt the next day but closer to the afternoon. While the first day is usually jet lag day, I did have hopes on getting in some adventure that day. A train is the way to go from the Frankfurt airport to the town we booked for the next couple days, Bacharach. I had done some train schedule research but due to our delay we missed the train I wanted to catch. Europe is pretty easy to get around but it is never simple the first couple times you try to figure out the trains. After maybe missing one more train, we finally figure out the ticket purchase booth (Hint: It needs a chip card with a PIN number – that excludes my regular credit card since I never get pins for my traditional credit cards).

The pension was going to pick us up at the train station but due to our late arrival I decided it was too much trouble to try to coordinate the pickup. Pension “Im Malerwinkel” wasn’t too far uphill from the train. After a tiny bit of map confusion we found our cute German home for the next couple days.

We took some time to decompress and then decided to go out and get trail information for the next day and get some bottle waters (since we are always of need of water). We soon find out that this cute town has closing hours and they are at 5-6 pm. Pretty much every store, tourist office, and miscellaneous place is closed by that time. No waters for us! We force ourselves into the tourist office just as it was closing and we didn’t find very helpful service. We decide to let the lady leave and try again the next morning. Fortunately our hotel had a honor bar where we could purchase waters, sodas, wines and beers. We took advantage of that amenity during our stay!

Fortunately the restaurants are open past 6, but don’t remain open too late. We decide to do the fancy dinner the first night since you never know how busy and tired the following evenings will be. I picked the fish menu. It started with a trout consommé  soup, followed by a almond crusted trout and finished with a dessert. I was pretty pleased with the first night’s dinner at the Rhein hotel’s Stueber’s Restaurant.

We wandered around the town a bit more because even though it was close to 10 pm and the town was almost a ghost town, it was still so damn light out. Ultimately sleep won against the light and I chose to wind down the night with a view outside our window with a bottle of wine from our hotel honor bar. Time to get a good night’s sleep for some hiking and sightseeing the next day.