July 19, 2012

Confessions of the Euro-fluenced: Days 13-14

After another peaceful day of travel through the green countryside, we arrived at rainy St.Goar. We've been learning that rain does not bother many Europeans. My only wish is that we would have been more prepared with rain gear. Once again, though, the rain and the coolness that it brought allowed us to finally catch up on the sleep that we have somehow lost these past few weeks.

St. Goar is a tiny town along the Rhein River in Germany. It is beautiful and truly made me feel like I was in a foreign land. St. Goar has two tiny food markets, plenty of restaurants along the main street, lots of hills and cobblestones, and a few friendly folk.

On one of the sunny days we took a cruise up the river to a town called Bacharach. (I would recommend a Rhein River cruise to anyone and everyone.) We were able to catch glimpses of so many quaint riverside towns, each with their own castle sitting high up on the surrounding hill. Some of these castles have been turned into hotels, some museums, and some are ruins. Wait until you see the pictures.... A ruined castle with a backdrop of green mountain grass and vineyards is pretty breathtaking. Once again, pictures can't do it justice.

Bacharach is prettier than St. Goar and for that reason has a bigger tourist industry. We discovered a pub that served some good broccoli soup and also a super cheap kebab stand. The kebabs were so good we took some home for dinner that night (of course I got a veggie one while Andrew partook in the eating of slaughtered, innocent animals)!

Besides the kebab, the other highlight of Bacharach was a cathedral that was in ruins. We had to hike up a significant set of crummy stairs to get to the amazing sight. You will see that, yes again, I will describe the view as BREATHTAKING.

One of the things that I try to encompass when taking photographs is the contrast between the hope in the beauty of nature and the sadness of broken down, man-made things. Thus, the ruins of the cathedral against a backdrop of a bright blue sky was quite moving. It will be something I will never forget (and hopefully will have a permanent spot on the wall of our future home).

Witnessing the cathedral against the sky reminded me of a piece of artwork that spoke to both Andrew and I one night. This watercolor and pencil piece by native Lancastrian Freiman Stoltzfus was on display in a gallery in Lancaster, PA (look under his Sacred Places gallery). I'm not sure of Stoltzfus' inspiration for the collection, but it makes me wonder if he has seen the beauty of the Bacharach cathedral ruins...

The hostel we stayed in was quite institutional. Literally. I'm not quite sure what it's history is, but it seemed to be an old boarding-school-turned-hostel. It reminded me of the all-girls school in the Madeline children's books (some of my favorites). We don't have any crazy roommate stories because we had a private room... Woohoo! Although I did have to crawl up to the top bunk and hit Andrew a few times in the middle of the night to stop him from snoring.

One of the good things about this hostel was the breakfast. We had a reserved a table with a great view of the river. And the breakfast was AYCE buffet! However, there's only so much pink lunch meat and sliced cheese that I can handle for breakfast. I've now learned what continental breakfast really means and I would give anything for a hot, greasy, bacon, egg and cheese bagel right now!

Another thing that I am slowly but surely getting used to is the idea of having to "do my business" in a coed bathroom. Sometimes the hostel will have separate stalls labeled for females only.  But still, going to the shower room in the wee hours of the morning and being greeted by five hairy men in their skivvies (Good Morning, Miss) is still a little too much for this conservative American brain.

Highlights of St. Goar:
-cruising the Rhein
-the cathedral ruins in Bacharach
-castles, green hills, vineyards
-cobblestone towns
-All you can eat breakfast with a view!
-more views than I would like in the bathroom

>Food 1
>Location 1
>Activites 1
>Comfort .5
>Hostel 0

The FLACH? 3.5 rainy stars.

Beautiful town along the Rhein River.
Rhein River cruise.
Vineyards along the Rhein River.
St. Goar.
The cathedral ruins in Bacharach.
Pub food! Love the square, wavy bowl.
The cathedral ruins in Bacharach.
The ruins.
The ruins.
The ruins.
Can't get enough!
I wish I could have gotten married here!
Kebabs + ruins = heaven.
Castle and town along the Rhein.
More ruins.
Beautiful day for a boat ride.

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