Saturday, September 27, 2014

Bacharach on the Rhine River

The Rhine River

After a few days of vacation on the Mosel River, why not head to the Rhine River?  The two scenic valleys are no more than a 30 minute drive from one another.  Even if you don't spend an overnight on the Rhine, take a drive, a train, or a KD day cruise from any town to any town between Koblenz and Mainz to see an endless parade of castle after medieval castle.  It's really exciting to be the first to spot one and shout out, "There's another one!"

We stayed a couple of days this summer in an absolutely gorgeous little town called Bacharach on the west side of the Rhine.  Most of my German relatives in Bavaria have never heard of Bacharach, yet it is often pictured in ads for Rhine cruises.

On the right side of the photo above you see the ruins of St. Werner's Chapel from 1289, and on the left you see the picturesque St. Peter's Church.  We got these terrific views of the town on an evening hike up to the Stahleck Castle above the vineyards.  The castle is now a youth hostel, Jugendherberge Burg Stahleck, and I would highly recommend the exciting experience of staying in such a historic structure.  (We did not, unfortunately, because it was booked months in advance of our arrival, so make your reservations as soon as possible.)  The hostel has rooms not only for backpackers but for families too, and it is clean and well-staffed.

Stahleck Castle on the Rhine, now a youth hostel.

The village of Bacharach is perfectly charming.  I just melt over the cuteness of half-timbered, fairytale houses with geranium-filled flower boxes, and Bacharach had me oohing and aahing all over the place. There are lots of narrow winding streets to meander, too.

Bacharach's ancient city wall still remains largely intact in some areas, as well as ten of its towers throughout the town.  We made a fun game out of finding each one.  In fact, we slept in one - at Hotel Kranenturm, another accommodation I highly recommend.

Bacharach's Market Tower

Hotel Kranenturm, with Castle Stahleck on the hill.

One of the highlights of our three week summer trip was riding bikes for miles along the Rhine.  The skies threatened rain the entire day, but thankfully never caught up to us.  We rented our bicycles from a friendly, animated, America-loving shopkeeper at Hotel Hillen on Langstrasse for 10€ per bike per hour.  Ask him where he's visited in America and he'll probably throw in an hour for free (after he's done talking your ear off.)

The river walk on the shores of Bacharach is park-like and lovely, with rows of historic buildings, just like in Cochem.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Cochem on the Mosel River

If you google "most charming villages in Germany" you will likely come upon a small town called Cochem on the Mosel River.  That's how I discovered it.  And since it is located relatively near Dusseldorf, where we arrived from the States, I made it our first overnight stop on our trip this summer.

What to see in Cochem?  Large castle?  Check.  Cute half-timbered houses?  Check.  Charming town square?  Check.  Romantic river-side strolling?  Check.  Plus steep wine vineyards all around and delicious Mosel wines to sample.

I can't believe we hiked up to the castle the same day we got off the plane after a 12 hour flight, but we did.  The walk is not strenuous and the views of the valley are lovely.  The guided tour of the castle is relatively brief and therefore inexpensive - we paid 14.50€ for a family ticket.

Construction of Cochem Castle is thought to have begun in the year 1000.
Views of the Mosel River valley from Cochem Castle.

The town square in Cochem is one of the prettiest I've ever seen.  This photo was taken from the second story window of the Rathaus (city hall):

Cochem town square.

Below the castle along the river is a colorful row of historic homes and buildings, making a stroll on either side of the river very scenic.  We walked several miles every evening on the beautifully landscaped paths and bridges.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

My Daughter's Personal Secretary

This last year was spent entirely on getting my daughter into college.  Certainly I take no credit for her acceptance to nine top-notch U.S. universities, for it was her 4.7 GPA, excellent ACT test scores, AP coursework, Girl Scout Gold Award, chamber orchestra viola playing, and ballet dancing talent that made that happen.  She did it all on her own.  But the indecent hours she spent on studying and activities in high school left zero time for scholarship applications, financial aid forms, letters of recommendation requests, résumé revisions, transcript and test score releases, merit award appeals, email correspondence, or tracking deadlines.  For that, today's high school seniors need a personal secretary.

It is no exaggeration when I estimate I spent about 10 or more hours a week from October through June as my daughter's executive assistant.  Truly, I am baffled by how colleges expect these kids to keep up the grades and intensive extracurriculars required for acceptance while simultaneously meeting all the universities's administrative preconditions for admission!  The Common App didn't really make things much easier, as many schools don't accept it, and even when they do there is still a unique essay to write for each application.

I tell you, planning a summer trip to Europe was on the back burner all year.  I wasn't even sure I wanted to go. On the one hand, I treasured the idea of spending weeks of quality time with my kids, especially my daughter maybe for the last time, but on the other hand, what if she didn't have enough time to prepare to go off to college?  What if I didn't have enough time to emotionally prepare for her to go off to college?  In the end, we left the decision up to her, and she didn't hesitate to say yes, she wanted to go back to Germany.  I'm proud of my young Europhile.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...