Germany

Our journey through Germany took us to several small towns while avoiding the large cities. This gave us an opportunity to soak in the sun and enjoy the beautiful countryside. Why would anyone ever want to leave?

Towns like Bacharach and St. Goar stand right at the river’s edge. Looming behind the towns are large rolling hills covered with vineyards. This is wine country. Again, why would anyone ever want to leave?

View from Postenturm Tower
Bacharach, Germany
Postenturm Tower
Bacharach, Germany
Vineyard Covered Hills
St. Goar, Germany
Hotel Altkölnischer Hof
Bacharach, Germany
Grapes
Bacharach, Germany

Castles

You would think that these majestic castles would be few and far in between. Well, nope, that isn’t the case. On the middle portion of Germany’s Rhine Valley, there are over 60 castles. You can literally look left and right and see more castles.

Before Germany was unified in the late 1800’s, each castle represented a separate, independent territory or guild. This meant that ships had to stop their vessels and pay tariffs at custom stations associated with each castle. Can you image? That was some serious taxing!!

Rheinfels Castle
St. Goar, Germany
Katz Castle
St. Goar, Germany
Castle Auf Schönburg
Oberwesel, Germany
Stahleck Castle
Bacharach, Germany

Somber Reflection

The peaceful, serene Rhine Valley countryside is enchanting. However, there are signs everywhere reminding us of a not-so-peaceful past. 

Thomas, our local Bacharach guide, shared stories of how the town was affected by Hitler and the Nazis during World War II. Stahleck Castle was used as a detention center for youthful opponents of the Nazi regime and as an indoctrination camp for young Germans. Many Jews were killed or taken to detention camps. Through the town, you can find stolperstein or “stumbling stones”. They are memorials of local Jews who lost their lives during the war.

But examples of antisemitism go back even further. In 1289, a shrine was built to honor a local teenager who mysteriously died. The Jewish community was unjustly blamed which resulted in the killing of over two dozen local Jews. The Wernerkapelle Ruins are the remnants of that shrine.

We also took a sobering trip to Dachau Concentration Camp. Our local guide, Claudia, told us about the rise of the Nazis. It was horrifying to see how quickly a government can change and commit atrocities against its citizens. For more information, please read the detailed account of Day 6.

Thomas said there is a growing concern because many young Germans do not believe the Holocaust even happened. 

Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Stolperstein/"Stumbling Stones"
Bacharach, Germany
Wernerkapelle
Bacharach, Germany
Dachau Concentration Camp
Dachau, Germany

Group Highlights

Rhine River Cruise
Germany
Night Watchman's Tour
Rothenburg, Germany
Dachau Concentration Camp
Dachua, Germany
Pilgrimage Church of Wies
Freising, Germany

Personal Highlights

Plönlein
Rothenburg, Germany
Walking the Ramparts
Rothenburg, Germany
St. Jakob's Church
Rothenburg, Germany
Never too early to Christmas Shop
Rothenburg, Germany

Local Cuisine Spotlight

Zwiebelkuchen and Federweisser – A German specialty that is only available for a short time in the fall.

Federweisser is partially fermented wine. Yeast is added to the grapes for a rapid fermentation process which results in a high level of carbonation. It is served unfiltered which is why it is cloudy. It must be served before it fully ferments and is only available in the region where it is made because it cannot be bottled for shipping.

Zwiebelkuchen is an onion cake. It can be made any time of year, but it is traditionally paired with the new wine.

Our server at Zur Höll in Rothenburg recommended this appetizer. Individually, each tasted great. But together, it was an explosion of flavors. We are so glad we were in the area at the right time!

 

If there is a special restaurant you want to visit, check their reservation policy. Even in a small town, during the off-peak season, it is possible that seating will not be available without a reservation.

Nightlife

Dusk
Rothenburg, Germany

Nightlife was slower paced in Bacharach and Rothenburg. OK, everything closes very early, but we enjoyed walking the enchanting streets at night.

Town buildings and ruins were nicely lit. In Bacharach, there was a thunderstorm one evening during dinner.  The streets glistened with the reflection of the lights.

Ruins (lightning lit sky)
Bacharach, Germany
Street After Rain
Bacharach, Germany

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Use the menu links below to navigate to each individual day’s page. Caution: Information overload or travel wanderlust may occur. Proceed at your own risk.