Travel Dreams Come True: TWO DAYS IN THE RHINE VALLEY

Rhine Valley 3My college boyfriend had three crushes: Asian girls with giant racks, me (not Asian, no giant anything to speak of) – and Germany. I could never understand that third one: for me, Germany was not country to be visited. It wasn’t even a place — but a concept.

Growing up in the USSR, I was instilled with only one association with Germany – that of my Motherland’s enemy in the Great Patriotic War and the greatest military adversary in history. That was it, the only context within which I (and dare I say millions of others in the former Soviet Union) could think of Germany. That association stayed throughout the “thawing” of the Gorbachev years (even though by then USA has long replaced Germany as USSR’s #1 geopolitical/nuclear/ideological foe) and a good decade into Russia’s post-Soviet era, during which Germany, ironically, became arguably Russia’s strongest European partner. Eventually Germany also became that place that was really clean and made good cars, but if you asked me to come up with a visual association, there’d be none – no beer and sausages, no gingerbread houses and lederhosen, not even Berlin Wall and Brandenburg Gate – nothing, save for Tiger and Panther tanks. #MadeInUSSR

So when College Boyfriend raved about German food, landscape and castles, I thought he was a bit mad. Never mind the fact that by then I had a poster of Neuschwanstein Castle on my dorm room wall – somehow it wasn’t in Germany but in some place I could never visit and which possibly mightn’t even exist in Real Life.

Fast-forward half a decade, and a seven-hour layover on my way from Prague to New York takes me right to Munich. And OH! – the Gothic spires of Marienplatz, the pastel-colored townhouses, the clean and fast transport, the super-polite people, the glorious food and drink! I stuffed my face with as many pastries as my ridiculously short accidental visit would allow, and resolved to come back to Germany right then and there.

Yes, like a good little Russian/carb addict I decided that a country was worth visiting because I liked their bread.

As I perused Google Images and travel blogs, my German pièce de résistance began to take shape: the Rhine Valley.

Rhine Valley 7 Rhine Valley 12Rhine Valley 13 Rhine Valley Castle 2 Rhine Valley Castle 1 Rhine Valley 2 Rhine Valley Castle 4 Rhine Valley Castle 5* * *

Five things make the Rhine Valley an Ultimate Anna Destination:

  1. Gorgeous nature / landscape /scenery, perfect for hiking and photographing
  2. It’s a wine country (of the rare kind of wine I actually enjoy – white, dry, sour)
  3. Water! Boats! Water!
  4. Quintessential German architecture – tinder-beamed houses and flower boxes galore
  5. Castles! I just love castles (Romanticism is strong in this one)

The Rhine Valley delivered on all counts, the main one being that it was stunningly beautiful as I had imagined. The dramatic Upper Middle Rhine Valley stretches for 65 kilometers and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Most Valley sights are located between the tourist village Rüdesheim and the city of Koblenz. In-between you are treated to vineyard-covered slopes and medieval castles perched up precariously like falcon nests.

Rhine Valley Castle 3The German and I spent two days in the Rhine River Gorge – driving the Rüdesheim to Koblenz stretch on the first with multiple pit stops, and taking the boat tour on the second. If you have the option, I strongly recommend doing both – the Valley looks and feels very different from the car vs. a boat. Driving is a great way to explore the dozens of nearby villages, castles and hiking trails, and there’s no better way to relax from all that sightseeing than by taking in the beauty of the Rhine River on a leisurely cruise with a glass of chilled Riesling in your hand.

Rhine Valley 1PRO TIPS for visiting THE RHINE VALLEY:

There are many Rhine Valley boat tour options that leave from Frankfurt, Mainz or Rüdesheim and go to Koblenz. You can actually sail even farther up to Bonn and Cologne, but it’s a more developed, less pretty area; however, the valley of the Moselle River, which flows into Rhine at Koblenz, is just as picturesque as the Rhine Valley and in spots even more so.

Some package deals, like those offered by Viator, include city tours of Mainz or Frankfurt, stops at Rüdesheim, castle visits and wine-tasting. Others are more of a basic hop-on, hop-off ride. We used the KD Rhine service – timetable here. For more ideas on what to do in the Upper Middle Rhine Valley go here. Rhine Valley Skies 1Reserve combination tours well in advance as they get sold out during peak tourist season (summer; wine harvest), and check out the schedule of all boats in advance too: they move at a rather slovenly pace and sometimes with long gaps in-between the rides. The Rüdesheim-Koblenz-Rüdesheim trip becomes an all-day affair if you want to come ashore anywhere along the way.  Bon Voyage!Rhine Valley Rhine Valley 17 Rhine Valley 18 Rhine Valley 15 Rhine Valley 14 Rhine Valley 6 Rhine Valley Skies 2

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35 thoughts on “Travel Dreams Come True: TWO DAYS IN THE RHINE VALLEY

  1. Asian girls with giant racks? Hahahahaha.

    Germany is beautiful, it’s the land of sausage, beer, the Autobahn, Felix…I’m so happy you are a convert, and the photos are just amazing! Which castle will be yours, darling Duchess?

    • YOU know who I’m talking about 😉
      Personally, I like that brooding castle with stormy clouds… I’d love to stay in one, just imagine waking up with THAT kind of view!

  2. OHHHHH! Your pictures are breath-taking! I have a love affair with Germany as my husband is half-German, but we have yet to visit the Rhine region. German Rieslings are my favorite, and one of these days we’ll finally make it there. Thanks for the awesome write-up!

  3. Pingback: RHINE VALLEY: 4 PIT STOPS (But None at a Castle) | Home & Away

  4. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is how you sell a destination! The Rhine Valley hasn’t really been on my radar and when my parents suggested it, I was like “sure, but how about Croatia??”. Now I totally want to go, thanks to your awesome photos! 😀

    • ***Takes a bow***
      Rhine Valley is an EXCELLENT choice for a multi-generational family destinations. It’s easily accessible from the Frankfurt Airport. There are lots of cute places to stay/eat/see, more active folks can go lots of hiking and castle-climbing, those who want to chill can shop and drink wine all day long. And it’s just. So. Pretty!

  5. I can’t quite remember how I stumbled upon your blog now, I think someone I follow on Twitter shared it your Rothenburg post, but hello! 🙂 Am really enjoying your posts on Germany and these photos are glorious. I live in Wiesbaden – I married a German and have been here five years – and have often taken the train back from London when I visit my family: the train journey from Koblenz to Mainz right along the Rhine is one of the most beautiful trips I know. I am so glad you enjoyed your visit to this region 🙂

    • Christie, I am so glad you found the blog, whichever way you came here 🙂 There are many more Germany posts in the pipeline – at least half a dozen or so :))))
      I think if I were taking your train journey, I’d be hanging out by the window with my camera the whole time!

  6. I am glad you liked Munich, and that the German bread convinced you to come back hahaha
    The Rhein Valley is amazing, another thing I haven’t visited yet. That’s the problem when you live in a country, you don’t visit nearby places!

    • I’m totally guilty of that travel sin in Russia – I rarely get out past my own backyard. Rhine Valley is another spot where the Germans are telling me that wow, they really want to visit it after this post. Like, if anything, I would have expected it from the foreigners but not the locals, you know? So strange 🙂

  7. ‘Love this post and your photographs. Really lovely. And now you see why “The Music Producer” and I will never be parted coming from a country of such beauty. Even Berlin is beautiful, if you know where to look. Yesterday, we spent the day by the lake and took a ferry and had a few beers and a sausage. And it was glorious.
    In Berlin!

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