Day 301: Heidelberg via Rhine ValleyDecember 12, 2017 in Germany
Huge day of travel today. One of Germany's world heritage sites is part of the Upper Middle Rhine valley, where the river winds its way through a deep gorge, surrounded on both sides by cute towns, vineyards and forests, as well as ruined and non-ruined castles. The best way to see this is of course by boat, a very popular activity during the summer but not so much during the winter! There was exactly one company doing cruises, but you had to make a booking and then call up the day before to find out if it was actually running.
Thankfully for us, it was, though leaving from the town of St Goar at 12pm meant two different trains and a pretty early start! So off we went in pitch darkness at around 7:30am, walking to the bus stop to catch the bus. Not crowded, thankfully, since I really hate catching buses with all our luggage - I feel very bulky and in the way.
Arrived at the station and made the train to Koblenz with no problems, arriving around 10:15. Had a 15 minute connection before our super slow local train down to St Goar, and arrived at about 11am. With 45 minutes to kill before the boat departed, we wandered around the village a bit. Very tiny but very touristy as well, though everything was closed. Feels like the sort of place that is basically deserted outside of tourist season!
Wandered down to the ferry dock where the office was also deserted, but we could see the boat coming up the river. During winter, it starts at the far end and cruises up one way and then back the other. Even though this was the second-last stop of the upstream leg (and we were booked to start from the second stop of the downstream leg), I double-checked with the guy and he said it was fine to jump on now - so we did!
Only about 40 people on board, all from the same coach tour by the look of it, and they got off at the next stop anyway, leaving just us and two other couples! We grabbed a spot on the upstairs open deck and spread out with our luggage. Finally I could stop worrying about missing any of our three transport connections, that the boat would be too crowded, that it would be raining, or that we wouldn't have anywhere to put our luggage. Time to relax and film, the sun even poked out a bit for us!
The cruise itself was great, about two hours heading down the river. Very dramatic scenery, lots to talk about and I think the video will turn out quite well. Even saw the Lorelei rock, where supposedly the siren would lure mariners to their deaths! Nothing to do with the strong currents and under-surface rocks of course.
Intermittently went downstairs to grab coffees and a couple of snacks, though we'd brought our own lunch of - what else - bakery sandwiches. The menu looked quite appetising though a little expensive.
Finally docked around 2:20pm in Bingen, and it was back to stressing - our train was at 2:27pm so we had to basically run from the dock to the station. Not far, but not pleasant either. Made it, then two more trains on the way to Heidelberg, including what was by now a packed commuter train with people heading home from work. Eventually got to Heidelberg around 4:45pm, in the dark of course.
Only a five minute walk to our apartment from the station, though we weren't meeting the host until 5:30pm. Killed time by walking slowly, and then visiting the Kaufland supermarket next door where Shandos took about 30 minutes to stock up for the next few days.
Met the host and got let in, a nice Russian girl who has lived here for a few years. She seemed quite sweet, and had wrapped up a Christmas scarf and a blanket for Schnitzel. The apartment is a small studio, with only a sofa bed, a kitchen and a bathroom, but it'll be big enough with a bit of solid management. Neither of us could be bothered going back out, so we cooked pasta for dinner.Read more