Castles from above and below. This is the second blog on our Europe’s Rivers and Castle cruise on AmaWaterways AmaDante. Here’s our first day blog.
Today we had a choice of visiting either the town of Cochem or the Koblenz. As we had previously been to Koblenz we choose to go to Cochem. This was about 45 min bus ride from the cruise ship but well worth it. Today is a castle day to be sure.
Most of our time in Cochem was spent at Reichsburg Castle. The castle sits on top of the town watching over the Moselle river. Parts of the castle date from the year 1000. The exterior has been fully restored to medieval times. Reischsburg literally means “Imperial Fortress” and when you’re looking out over the valley surveying the town and river below, you feel very imperial. The interior tour was interesting but was mostly filled Renaissance and Baroque furnishings – hardly medieval. When looking at this castle you really get a feeling for what life might have felt like 500 to 1000 years before.
The castle sits on top of a very steep rock outcropping, making getting to the top a bit challenging. The standard approach was to take a small mini bus through town and up to the entrance gate – that’s what we did. Others walked / hiked up to the castle. We did however walk down the hill after the tour was done. This didn’t require too much effort but did afford us of new views and perspectives of Cochem.
We were able to spend some time touring the little town itself. Very well preserved medieval structures with typical narrow and winding streets. Some highlights include a mustard mill where you can try a bunch of different mustard flavors a well preserved gate to the city. The pictures below provide some examples.
Looking up at Castles along the Rhine river Gorge
After lunch we sailed down the Rhine river through an area with over 20 castles. While the cruise manager narrated and told us the backstory of each, castles could be spotted along both sides of the river. These imposing structures were all strategically placed on the high ground. While many are in ruins, several were fully restored and several more were in use today as hotels and such.
I spent about half the time on the sun deck so that we could have a 360 degree view. It started raining, so we moved to the main lobby which still gave us lots of great views. We spent most of the time between castles talking to other passengers generally “shooting the breeze”. It is amazing how when traveling you tend to bond with fellow passengers remarkably quickly. The afternoon was relaxing, interesting and thoroughly enjoyable. We saw history, talked about the present day and dreamed a little of the future.
Evening in Rüdesheim
After diner we stopped in Rüdesheim. Some people went to the music box museum. We opted not to do this since we’ve already been there. Instead we head into this very small but lively town for a local drink. With the AmaDante cruise manager leading the way we were treated to a RüdesheimCoffee which consists of local brandy, coffee, whipped cream chocolate flakes all served in a special cup. Worth the short walk! Our first impression upon entering the bar was that we were back in Pennsylvania at Bethlehem’s Musikfest – the band was playing traditional German music just like at home. The town is full of pubs and restaurants and seems to cater to both local residents and tourists alike. We walked back to the ship by about 10 pm. This touring business is hard work after all.
A few words on food
I just want to make three points on the food
- Portions are just right. Because the portions are correctly sized, even at lunch you can afford three courses. Lots of different tastes without getting full which I really appreciate.
- Quality and variety are excellent. Such interesting dishes – today’s lunch for example was a mustard Reisling soup and baramundi (fish). Excellently cooked with unique flavors we have not had. The soup was obviously locally influenced – another nice touch.
- Food issues are very well respected. I recently started eating gluten free – it just makes me feel better. So the other day at dinner i was concentrating on telling our waiter about the gluten free diet, but totally forgot to remind him of my Rosemary allergy. Luckily the maitre’d caught the dish going out and prevented it from being served. That’s doing his job to be sure but we were grateful for his attentiveness. For the lunch buffet, he always tells me what I can have what I can’t. Furthermore all menu items on Ama ships are coded with various food allergy symbols to let people know what’s available.
Second day impressions
Castles both near and far really set the tone for the day. A full day with different activities in the morning, afternoon and evening but we never felt rushed. As we leave the Moselle River and are well into the Rhine, our understanding of Roman, Medieval and modern German has greatly increased. We met even more people today with even more different perspectives on life. Dinner conversation revolved around whom we cherish in our lives. We were surprised that some believed that was too big a word to describe their relationships. We disagree but value the different viewpoints. After all, getting different viewpoints is what travel is all about.