Wednesday, May 08, 2013-Day 19 At breakfast we noticed the ship had pulled into a nondescript moorage somewhere along the river Mains. We found out that the crew was busy raising awnings and setting up deck chairs on the sun deck as we were to be allowed on that deck for the next section of the trip.
A while earlier, we had moved from travling west on the Main River and joined the rhine to move south and West. At Bingen the Rhine makes a right angled turn to flow north and the time of passing below low bridges was over. It was shortly after passing Bingen, and around 11 am, that Vlad, our cruise director began his commentary on the castles of the Rhine Valley, this stretch between Bingen in the south and Koblenz in the north. He went on to give us the history of the so-called “robber-baron” castles as castle after castle came and went. It was most interesting. a quote from our brochure say, “History has often painted the lords of the castles along the middle Rhine as extortionist menaces to hapless travellers. It is less-well known that they were responsible for keeping the towpaths along the river in good shape, and that the toll collected therefore could just as easily be considered a tax. That said, the difference between a robber baron and a tax collector may have been lost on most contemporaries.”
This stretch of the Rhine Valley is absolutely gorgeous. The four of us on deck discussed what a fine time could be had in slowly driving and exploring the small towns along the length of the river, and in this stretch in particular. The castles were majestic. Some are now owned and run by the state as youth hostels, some are privately owned and operated as museums, and only one is authentic, not having been re-built in any way. That is the castle Marksburg at the town of Braubach.
Later, the ship docked at Braubach and we were taken to the foot of the castle by bus. After a short, steep uphill climb (Cynthia and Lynore remained on ship) Don and I along with many others explored the castle with our guide. It is in fabulous shape, and is a credit to those who care for it. After an hour in the castle, we descended to the buses and went back to the ship which had moved on downriver and docked at Koblenz. We went ashore again at Koblenz and while wandering through ascenic area, we heard a brass band warming up. When we got to the source of the sound, the band was from the Ottawa Fire Department of all places! They were (we assumed, because many of them looked like they would not be found at the top of a ladder truck) retired fore-fighters and wives, on a tour of certain European countries. Some time later, they marched to the gangway of of our ship and were given a shot of Schnapps each by the crew of the Idun. What an advertising gambit that was! It had been another full day!
Goodbye for now and God bless