Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Heidelberg, Germany

Heidelberg viewed from the castle
On Tuesday we arrived in Heidelberg, Germany, which has a baroque old town and a free and famous university.  We toured the castle which overlooks the town.  It was abandoned over 300 years ago. The castle is not totally restored as it takes some money to keep these castles up and operating.  Stage productions take place in the courtyard. The castle boasts the world's largest wine barrel that could hold 50,000 gallons of wine.

After the castle tour we were on our own to walk around town. We celebrated John's birthday there.
Courtyard of Heidelberg Castle where a local production of My Fair Lady is rehearsing

Interior of castle where walls are being renovated
World's largest wine barrel

Rehearsing for My Fair Lady in a castle courtyard.

The Middle Rhine

Leaving Marksburg Castle aboard the Ingvi
Leaving Marksburg Castle behind we proceeded on the Ingvi up the Middle Rhine River which is the most scenic on the trip.  There's castle after castle after castle.  One reason for so many castles is that the river narrows through here and in days of old the towns and knights, etc wanted to regulate traffic on the Rhine so they built castles. It was also a handy way to protect families and troops if attacked. They put them up on hills -- easier to defend, of course.  I didn't write down all the names of the castles but there are whole guidebooks written on the castles of the middle Rhine.

Myths and legends abound, the most famous being Lorelei, the beautiful siren of the rocks who lured sailors into the raging deep water and to their doom.  She sat and sang sweet songs to them at night.  This legend has produced many songs and poems, the most celebrated is "The Lorelei" by Heinrich Heine in 1823.

In 2002 in recognition of one of the world's oldest and most magnificent cultural landscapes, UNESCO declared the Upper Middle Rhine Valley a World Heritage Site.
Yet another historic town on the French side of the river from the deck of the Ingvi
As we sailed along for about two hours our guide, Boris, gave us a running commentary on what we were seeing as we sat on the deck of the Ingvi. It was a wonderfully pleasant afternoon and a day filled with castles.

These are only a few of the castles in this section of the Rhine. A few are still in ruins, some have been renovated, one or two are hotels or private homes.

Narrowest part of the river, Lorelei Rock on the left

John surveys the vineyards that produce all that nice Rhine wine

How'd you like to live in this relic in the 13th century?

Castles and Vineyards along the Rhine