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  # 053
ASC Rhine Cruise
Bühl - Oppenheim - St. Goar
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40 Castles within 65km
(Photo courtesy: www.welterbe-mittelrheintal.de)

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Our host - Cornelius "Conny" Goldberg (ASC)


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Our destination - St. Goar
(Photo courtesy: www.welterbe-mittelrheintal.de)


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500km Rhine Cruise
In November 2006 we set out for Germany to join the ASC German RIB club on their cruise of the middle Rhine. Our travel plans were plagued from the outset by not one but two flight cancellations, a complete reschedule, and then a delay once finally on board the aircraft, so we were beginning to wonder if we were destined never to arrive. However, arrive we did, thanks to the helpful arrangements of Cornelius Goldberg (Conny to us Ribsters).

Finally we flew to Frankfurt and were able to spend some time browsing the outdoor Christmas market and sampling the local gluwein and bratwurst, before taking the super fast (180 mph) high speed train, ICE, to arrive in Bühl. There we were met by Conny, who then entertained us in his home for the evening with his lovely wife Edith. We thank Conny and Edith for their help and kindness.

The following morning we set off on Conny’s RIB for our rendezvous with the rest of the club at Oppenheim. Our good friend and BIBOA International member Peter Zurrer from Switzerland was to join up with us the following day after some 250km ribbing from the south to meet up with us at Oppenheim, and all solo too!

The first few miles of cruising along the Rhine from Bühl made us realise just what a busy river it is. In fact, the Rhine, 1320km (820 miles) long, is one of the most important commercial inland waterways in the world and supports an extensive industrial network. Huge container barges ploughed through the water, some with telescopic bridges which could be raised or lowered depending on the height of the cargo carried. Some of these vessels were corporately run but some also privately owned, and were both home as well as work to the families who operated them.

It was interesting to see children’s toys arranged in secure play areas out on deck, and washing hanging out to dry on impromptu clothes lines. The luxury family saloon vechicles and in some instances rigid inflatable boats on deck indicated that the crew were certainly not on ‘benefits’!

Having made our way through the industrial area, with factories on either side, we were looking forward to seeing the ‘romantic Rhine’ we had heard about – pretty little villages, churches and castles. We were not to be disappointed. We gradually left the industry behind and the countryside began to open up. Some 40 castles and fortresses, stretched along a mere 65 km of the River Rhine between the cities of Bingen and Coblence, constitute one of the most outstanding features of this World Heritage Site.

Such a concentration of castles within such a small area is to be found nowhere else in the world! Vineyards covered the hills on either side of the river and we could only imagine how lovely they must look in summer, laden with fruit ripening in the sun. We stopped for lunch in the small town of St Goar, named after Saint Goar who settled there in 550 and founded a Christian hostel for travellers and the poor.

Although many legends have sprung up around the saint, he was most famous for his hospitality. Considering the number of hotels and restaurants in the town, relative to the size of the population, he must have passed on this virtue to its inhabitants.

The famous rock of the Loreley, on the eastern bank of the Rhine, marks the narrowest point of the river between Switzerland and the North Sea. Here, the Rhine is only 113 metres wide but 25 metres deep. The strong current and numerous rocks have, for centuries, caused ships to be wrecked, thus giving St. Goarshausen the additional name ‘Town of the Loreley’. The legend of the Loreley tells of a beautiful young maiden with long blonde hair who enthralled the barge masters with her songs and thus led them to their deaths. A statue of the Loreley can be seen near the cliff.

The long weekend was great, with just the right combination of cruising, eating, drinking and talking. What more can you ask? It was good to catch up with old friends and make some new acquaintances too, and we thank the members of the ASC German RIB club for their very kind hospitality.

Kevin & Frances Goulding
December 2006

 



 
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