Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2007 - GERMANY - Bingen & Rüdesheim on the Rhine

We wanted to be up and out early on this last full day around Rüdesheim on the Rhine area. We were one of the first to be served this morning at the hotel's complimentary breakfast, but when we emerged from the Felsenkeller we were met with drizzle. Back in for our umbrellas and then off for a crossing of the Rhine to the neighboring town of Bingen.  Someone had recommended Bingen for a different taste of life on the Rhine, and Peg wanted to know more about the connection between the famous Hildegard von Bingen and the town across the river.  The weather would not smile kindly on us regarding distant views.  However, we would have a fascinating and fun time on both sides of the river - Hildegard of Bingen being the highlight for Peg - an authentic taste of Octoberfest for Keith!


. . . Where we left off yesterday. The view from our hotel room was of these rows upon rows of grapes. It was a busy time in the vineyards as the fruit was full, ripe and ready to pick.

It was a drippy morning as we took this early ferry across the Rhine to the town of Bingen to see what we could see. Our first goal would be to find a  Tourist Information office to obtain a map.

Just a couple of blocks from the river looking for an "i" sign, Peg found this colorful  building of interest. Just down the street we found the office, but it was closed - actually the whole town seemed closed. Maybe a holiday?

We couldn't find anything open so we just followed this broad & interesting walking path under an arch & up toward a castle turret we could see from a distance.

At the top of the hill we came to the Klopp Castle which is now owned by the city & houses its administration offices.  It appeared to be open, but we didn't go in.

The castle courtyard housed a very deep well that had a protective grill over the opening. Reportedly the tower provides some great views, but not on a foggy day like this day.

We continued our walk down a number of modern steps that brought us to this developed area, with a great view back at the castle on the hill. All the shops were still closed, but we were picking up some hints from informational signs. Peg was most interested to learn more about a local museum to which the name Hildegard was connected.

 Because of construction barricading, we had difficulty finding the entrance to the Historical Museum - Hildegard von Bingen & nearly gave up.  It was worth the search as there were several collections in addition to interpretive materials on Hildegard (the collection that made heart patient Keith squeamish was the display of of 2nd-century Roman surgical instruments!). 

Peg liked this gilded treatment of the wealthy parents tithing their 10th child, 8-year old Hildegard, to the church.  Hildegard Bingen is the town's favorite personality.  Born in 1098, she ultimately became a very influential abbess, healer, writer, composer, and visionary.  

This print portrays a woman of importance in discussion with others.  Perhaps those are the abbeys she founded are in the background.   Possibly the men of her audience are the notables and learned men who sought her advice.

This Art Nouveau style print also shows the regard in which she is held.   Her multitude of accomplishments have led to her being labeled a polymath.  (Something of a Renaissance Man a la daVinci, so possibly, she would be the Medieval Woman.? )

A stained glass rendition of this popular saint shows her penning a musical score.  Her compositions (some 80 in number) have been enjoyed to this day & stand as a tribute to women's abilities in the art.  [CLICK HERE for the companion stained glass piece.]

The museum also houses a series of paintings by numerous artist who were part of the entire Rhine Romantic epoch.  Romanticism aside, this is just a plain nice painting of Bingen's Basilica of St. Martin with Burg Klopp in the background.  

We walk across the river Nahe and explore a bit around the town of Rupertsburg.  This church is also dedicated to Hildegard as it houses some of her relics. In this town she founded a monastery in 1150.

Peg checks this plaque as we approach the front of the church.  The church too was closed this day, so we headed back from whence we came.

Glashaus mit Binger Sommergarten beer garden had erected this big tent to house to attract Octoberfest folks. It was lunch time & the music was lively so we went in & found a seat. It wasn't too crowded yet, but the folks were happy & welcoming.

We took a blind stab at the menu and    Keith ended up with  leberknödel (liver dumplings) with sauerkraut & brown bread & Peg got 1/2 chicken & brown bread.  The Octoberfest beer, of course, was really good.

We met a very nice man who's English was only slightly better than our nonexistent German. We somehow communicated & even were able to do some sing-alongs. Naturally Fred knew all the songs. We all knew how to toast! Thanks for your friendship, Fred!

Woops, we missed the ferry back across the river.  Gee whiz, we must look for something to do for the hour before it returns. We'd love to return to the great social life of the Octoberfest tent, but we had had our limit of beer (teetotaler Keith going over his limit with a full liter!). 

Finally something else is open in this town. We enter Eiscafé Dolomiti for a coffee & discover that they specialize in ice cream extravaganzas.  Keith had some chocolate event & Peg chose a child size "after 8". We had to run to catch the ferry.

Back in Rüdesheim, we happen upon a local wedding at the local church. Somehow the local fire department was involved as all the town's trucks were parked around the entrance where a reception seemed in progress. Many attendees were in uniform or folksy costume - e.g., this motorized escort group.

Time to be paraded off, here's a bride in a white dress with an obliging groom.  They are ensconced in a white sofa being pulled by -- well, I guess it's another tiller.  Looks like fun!

We had been saving this experience for later in the day as we hoped the fog would lift a bit; we board the "cable car." The entrance was next door to our hotel & the other terminus is at the Niederwald Park to the northwest.  

We are treated to this fantastic view of the Rhine, Rüdesheim & Bingen from the gondola.  The climb is to 203 meters creating quite a panorama. 

The total distance is a full 1400 meters & it took a very pleasant and short 10 minutes to reach this terminus. This cable experience reminded Keith of a similar experience in 2002 when he & son Patrick rode the Teleferique to the mountain above Jounieh in Lebanon.  

The Niederwald Temple was originally built in 1788. The story goes that this structure was rebuilt after the allies hit it during WWII. Noted for its view, it must have been a pretty good military observation site

We were sure that this view from the "Temple" would be even more spectacular if the visibility were not so limited on this day of our visit.

A central feature of this high park is the Niederwald Monument. Topped with a statue of "Germania," it dates from 1877-1883. The tall monument was meant to commemorate the rebuilding of the German Empire after the French-German War of 1870-71.

The logo of the "Seilbahn Rüdesheim" cable car company adorns the side of this building.  We are ready to head back down.

Peg enjoys one last look back up to the top.  

We look down at the activity in the vineyards.  We really should have a glass of the local wine while we are here.

Totally delightful to look down on the shimmering river, the islands, and the town.  

Here are the last few yards of the cable car run.  Our hotel, just to the left of the terminus, awaits for our last night in Rudesheim.  

But first we head a short distance down the hill from our hotel to Breuer's Rüdesheimer Schloss's Wine Restaurant that publicize that they are followers of "Slow Food."

Here we order a glass of the excellent local wine.  It was very nice ... the ambiance & service were pleasant . . . . and it was slow. Almost on cue, this establishment's carillon in the tower began to play its hourly melody.

Our final meal was rather late that evening. Just a few doors from our hotel we patronized the Stadt Frankfurt Restaurant (photo from next morning). Our beers were Krombacher.  Peg had Bratwurst (sausage) & Keith had Rinderroulade (beef roll). 

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