Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Sunday 13th July - Koblenz to Waldagesheim

Today was supposed to have been one of the trip's highlights, the Rhine Gorge is a UNESCO world heritage site with over a dozen castles commanding a fairly beautiful and epic stretch of the river only about 70 kms long and it certainly didn't disappoint.

The start of the Rhine gorge
It's a kind of Never Never Land here now, as I cannot conceive of how these small historic towns could exist without tourism, ill-suited as they are to receiving shipments. No doubt however this area used to be crucial to control transport, so now there are the Köln-Dusseldorf boat terminals smattered along the riverbank, along with achingly picturesque little towns of half-timbered German houses, flanked on the hills by imposing castles. Most of these castles also have found a new role in post-medieval Europe as Jugendeheberge or Bett und Bike rest stops (essentially youth hostels), although having climbed up to one to have a look down the valley I am thoroughly uncertain as to how anyone is supposed to get a fully loaded touring bike up a 25% gradient hill on what is essentially a forested footpath!



castles! Probably would have given this one a different paintjob myself though.
The Loreley is also found here, a rocky outcrop more famous for its romantic poetic and musical associations than its breathtaking natural beauty. Call me an uncouth geological ignoramus if you will, but I've certainly seen and climbed some far more impressive rocks in the past.
The Loreley (Not my image, my camera was being uncooperative).

View from the castle above Bacharach
More impressive was the way the landscape has been utilised for agriculture, particularly for vineyards (this region produces Riesling, amongst other cracking wines). My hosts for the night were Sylvia, Thorsten and their mischevious little son Jan, living in the quiet little town of Walgaldesheim set in the foothills above Bingen. I had a really nice evening with them, actually staying with my first family through Hospitality Club. Also, Sylvia called her sister Kerstin 50 klicks down the road in Mainz and I stayed with her the following night. Both were lovely hosts, but Mainz was nothing to write home about, so I won't...

The road into Waldalgesheim. This is wine-growing country...
Koblenz to Waldagasheim - ? About 70 kms, cycle computer being petulant!
Waldalgesheim to Mainz - Av. 16.5kph, Max. 50.4 kph, Time 3.07.49, Dist. 51.75

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