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- Visiting Europe
Germany's "Rhine River Cruise"
A German Pub In Bacharach
Traveling the World
Dad was the first to discover Germany's “Rhine River Cruises”. That’s how we came to visit Bacharach, (pronounced bock ah rock) one of the country's small villages.
On an excursion aboard one of many cruise ships making daily journeys, there is lots to see. Around almost any bend of the river you’ll come across another castle perched high atop steep slopes paralleling the waterway. The slopes are home to numerous vineyards from which famous German wines are produced.
Contrary to the American perception of castles and kingdoms being a relative rarity, they are commonplace along the Rhine. Most have tours available. We visited several which displayed suits of armor, winery’s, ancient ancestral portraits and other artifacts of medieval castle living.
Traveling the Rhine in ancient times was arduous, dangerous and costly. Every castle demanded a toll for ships to safely pass through their territory or be blown out of the water from cannons lining their castle walls.
There are many towns and villages dotting the landscape along the river and most are accessible by cruise ships which come and go hourly. So, tourists can always catch another connection from any place they desire to visit. However, Bacharach seems to be the most popular destination and best representative of all the others.
We Visited Many Places
When we stepped off the ship at Bacharach, it was onto the town’s original cobblestone streets. If you ever visit such a place be sure to wear a good pair of walking shoes. Cobblestones are murder on high heels. You are immediately taken with the old, rustic, picturesque homes and stores lining the main street. The mouth watering aroma of grilled bratwurst, freshly baked pretzels and bread wafts through the air and street vendors have no problem selling them to sightseers.
There is one thing American tourists should be aware of. If you like Pepsi, Coke or other such soft drinks, you need to specifically ask for ice. We never found a place in Europe that served cold sodas. Europeans apparently like drinks (except for coffee) served at room temperature. Bacharach hosts the inevitable souvenir shops but mingled in between, authentic German eateries, clothing shops and pubs are plentiful. An atmosphere of a bygone medieval era is ever present. And the legal drinking age in Germany at the time was 16, so you know I returned to visit again...minus any chaperones.
You can learn about places by reading in books. But reading about them and actually being there are two different things. Experiencing first hand, various countries and cultures, is by far the best option if you have the opportunity and means. Many Americans have never had either. I’ve met people who’ve never left their home state. This is unfortunate. They are missing out on many of life’s more enjoyable experiences.
I was privileged enough to have been raised in a military family and able to see much of the world. During our travels, we’ve lived in or at least been through, about every state in the union. We were also afforded the luxury of going overseas several times. Dad was stationed in Germany and also Japan.
Enjoyable And Educational
Japan and the Far East were enjoyable and educational; however, the time I spent in Germany was my most memorable. My father was stationed at Wiesbaden Air Force Base, Germany in 1968. Prior to leaving the states for Germany, my Dad asked me if I wanted to go to Germany or stay with relatives
Not knowing what I’d be missing I told him I didn’t want to. He made me go anyway! Which I’m glad he did.
Before base housing was available we lived in the mid-sized town of Russlesheim (translated Russle’s Home). It was a typical German town having their own local historical tourist spots such as a castle. Russlesheim was a nice place, but living there was somewhat of an inconvenience. My brothers and I had to attend the American military dependent high school (General H. H. Arnold HS) In Wiesbaden, a fair distance away. Eventually we moved into “Crest View” base housing at Wiesbaden. The first thing my mom did upon getting us registered for school was to enroll me in a German language class. She was planning to see the country and figured a translator would come in handy.
The great thing about living in Europe is you’re only several hours away from another country and language…something my parents’ took full advantage of. They dragged us through all the neighboring countries trying to be inconspicuous…a futile effort. The six of us resembled a traveling carnival hauling along ice chests, lawn chairs, numerous knapsacks and of course a large collection of cameras. We might as well been carrying a placard with “American Tourists Here” printed on it.
Although we visited many places such as Amsterdam and Holland, the place I remember best was a small town along the Rhine River called Bacharach (pronounced bock ah rock). The town is very old, boasting homes and buildings dating back to the early 1500’s, most still in use. Even though the town is a staple tourist attraction the community manages to maintain it the way it was with most of their original heritage. The village is a must see for sight seer’s.
There are many times I wish I could’ve returned to Germany because of its’ beauty and rich history, but I no longer have the opportunity. People say “Opportunity only knocks once.” So if you have a chance to visit such a place…answer the door!