25 April 2013

Train to Bacharach

Today we are mixing a few days into one.  Sorry.

On the 25th we made our way by train further up into the Rhineland.  It is a beautiful trip that you are supposed to by boat.  Unfortunately this was not possible for us, and we took the train.  This is still a very good way to see the country side, as you are close to the river looking up to the hills on the opposite bank.  You cannot get a good view of your side of the river, unless the train goes around a corner, but you do get to see all the small towns and castles on the peaks.  Well worth doing.
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On arriving in Bacharach we made our way to tourist info, and a very nice zimmer frei run by a little old lady and her husband, the local bee keeper. B01 A nice room overlooking a back square.  The houses it looks onto are all built at different stages, from Vakwerk to concrete.  It is a small history lesson from the window.  A nice place, good bed, shower and everything you need.  A great breakfast with lots of fresh caramelly honey, jams and meats.  Perfect.

Gorgeous vakwerk houses.

Gorgeous vakwerk houses.

The town of Bacharach is nestled on the side of the river with an old castle on the hill.  It is pretty steep countryside, but that has not prevented the farmers from growing grape vines on the slopes.  Although I would not like to be the one picking them!  It is almost a sleepy little village, and walking along the river you get a good view of it.  Originally surrounded by a fortification wall, there is not that much left.  Just where the railway lines use it, and houses back onto it.  There are a few small tunnels, just wide enough for a car to go through.  These are also the only ways under the railway.

the ruins of an old cathedral.

the ruins of an old cathedral.

Although it is UNESCO listed, this has not changed its charm at all, and most of the buildings have had a lot of care and attention paid to them over their lives.  They are all painted up.  Many with small pictures or sayings painted directly onto the facades.
Walking around town and up the hill to the castle,we followed small tracks along the base of the original fortifications.  Mostly made from bricks and the local shale.  A couple of towers dot the side of the hill.  These would be normal if they had all their sides.  However the original ones have only three sides with the fourth open to the elements.  A couple of these have been turned into private residences, with the missing wall being put up, another is in its original condition with the last being repaired to represent how they used to look.
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The castle, Burg Stahleck, on top of the hill is stunning. A mix between castle and villa.  There is a large central tower with fortifications surrounding it.  The buildings are within these fortifications and butt up against the tower.  It has been used as a Jugend herberg or basically a youth hostel since the 1920’s.  This has preserved the castle in good condition. We originally wanted to stay there, as I would love to sleep in a castle, but it would have been impossible to drag our bags up the narrow, steep dirt tracks.  There is a road there, but we have no idea where it came from.  We must admit that only the fit would make it.  Or at least make them fit.

Castle Stahleck, with great views over the Romantic Rhine.

Castle Stahleck, with great views over the Romantic Rhine.

A Tower that has been turned into a house.

A Tower that has been turned into a house.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Later we found that the town is a lot larger than we had assumed, as it stretches up through a small valley on either side of a little stream.  Discovering a micro brewery we had to sample their wares, and discovered that you can distil beer into liqueur!  This was fantastic.

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Although the weather was no longer as nice as the last few days,with patches of rain, and a generally cold and misty outlook, it is still a fantastic place to visit and gave us a small idea of why the area is so famous,even if we couldn’t stop to check out every small town.

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