|On Friday, April 16th, we headed south
towards Frankfurt-am-Main to begin our exploration of the Rhine Valley.
The Rhine River stretches between the Alps and flows into the North Sea,
passing numerous castles along the way. Our destination: the
area between Mainz and Koblenz, which, according to our guidebook, is
the most scenic. After a long drive (and a incredibly long traffic
jam), we were finally in Rüdesheim, on the east bank of the Rhine
Valley, and ready to explore. We originally thought we'd have time
for a quick preview of Saturday's highlights, but found ourselves almost
in Koblenz before turning around. What we had intended to be a
quick 1 - 2 hours drive ended up being a 6-hour trip up and down the
Rhine, with castles (and ruins) appearing around each bend of the river.
Although we like to think of castles being medieval fairy-tale
structures, complete with knights in shining armor, they were built by
feudal lords and land barons made rich by charging steep tolls for using the Rhine River to
transport goods. Not quite the romantic stereotype, but they are
still quite amazing to see. On Saturday morning, we again headed
north on the east bank, making numerous stops along the way to
take pictures or wander through some of the small towns. Tourist
season hadn't quite started, so we had the road to ourselves. As
we approached Koblenz, we decided to ferry across the river and spend
the rest of the day exploring the castles and ruins on the west bank. Sunday morning we
had just enough time to tour one more castle before heading back home.