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  • Day767

    Rhine Valley

    July 12, 2019 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    With some stormy weather forecast, we decided to head over to Camping Sonnenstrand on the outskirts of pretty Bacherach, on the banks of the Rhine River, to sit it out.

    This area of the Rhine cuts through deep slate mountains, which are covered in rows and rows of vines. In 2002, UNESCO designated this 65km stretch of river as a World Heritage Site. Pretty villages of half-timbered houses are at every bend and medieval castles, most of which were built by local baron robbers who extorted tolls from merchant ships by blocking their passage with iron chains, perch high above.

    Tiny Bacherach is described as one of the prettiest villages and the description fits perfectly. A short walk along the riverbank and then through one of the thick arched gateways and we were inside the medieval half-timbered old town, which is surrounded by a 14th-century wall. From the castle above, which is now a youth hostel, the views of the town and vineyards below, sitting alongside the river, were magnificent, even through the sky had turned grey.

    From our pitch, we could see for ourselves how busy the river is. Everything from rowing boats, to sailing boats, to river cruises and ferries and even enormous barges moving goods and containers up and down were using the river continuously. We were told that due to the direction and strength of the current that it takes 3 days for a barge to get from Rotterdam in Holland to Basel in Switzerland but only 1 1/2 days back. We could see this for ourselves when traffic suddenly seemed to stop dead on the water and then had to push hard with the engines to get going again. It kept us occupied while the stormy weather passed through.

    A bike journey took us along the west bank, through the villages, up to Koblenz after which we got a bit lost before we found our route down the east bank on the opposite side. Unlike the Mosel which has plenty of bridges crossing the river, the Rhine has many less and car ferries are used frequently to get across. We used one ourselves on our journey back to the campsite. It was all very efficient, just like the local trains which we also used to get back having walked to the next village 4 miles away.

    Luckily for us, the Dutch campsite owners were Formula One fans and so the four of us sat and watched the British GP and saw Lewis Hamilton make history becoming the most successful British driver ever by winning six British Grand Prix.

    Although surrounded by vines, we didn't manage to taste a lot as we were often out and about on the bike. A good reason to return.
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