Monday, June 3, 2013

Vacationing in Germany: Marksburg Castle along the Rhine River

Today marks the end of day 5 in Germany. I'm finally getting a chance to sit down at my laptop for more than just planning out the current or next day's adventures.

Our vacation did not get off to the best start, but I still have to keep pinching myself that we are finally in Germany, after months and months of planning. (And I kept telling myself that at least it wasn't as bad as Cassie's first day in Europe.) It's been raining almost every moment since we got here, but we're trying to make the best of it.

In order to keep you reading along, I will sprinkle in photos from our tour of Marksburg Castle in Braubach, Germany. It over looks the Rhine River.

Marksburg Castle sits high atop a hill along the Rhine River

Day 0: Travel day from home to Frankfurt, Germany

Without boring you with the details, both our flights from Louisville, KY, to Newark, NJ, and from Newark to Frankfurt, Germany, were delayed. The earlier delays didn't stress us too much because we had plenty of layover cushion in Newark. But delays in Newark meant getting into Frankfurt later. (This was an overnight flight -- leaving Newark in the evening and arriving in Frankfurt the next morning. Of course we lost 6 hours as we skipped over a few time zones, so our bodies weren't sleepy until it was almost time to wake up. And if you've ever tried to sleep on a plane, you know the uncomfortable seats and constant noises don't make for a restful situation.

Nothing fancy here, just a foreboding Medieval fortress

Looking out at the Rhine Valley (much nicer views on sunny days, I'm sure)

Day 1: Castles and views along the Rhine River Valley

Because of the delays, we lost an hour or two of time on our first day in Germany. We had originally planned to drive straight (in a rental car) from the airport to Marksburg Castle along the Rhine River to catch the English tour at noon. Unfortunately we had quite a few hiccups following the GPS directions, and we ended up doubling back a few times, both on the interstate, and through the villages along the countryside. In one town, we must have driven through the same intersection at least three times. Our GPS kept telling us to go down one street, but the street was closed for construction, and it took forever to find a way out of there. On the positive side, we saw lots of quaint German villages. Interestingly, you see farmland upon farmland, then a cluster of 100 or so houses. Then farmland for a while again, then another cluster of houses. Even in the countryside, the houses aren't spread out like they are in rural U.S. I guess the farmers have to drive to their farms, because their houses were all in the villages.

Good shoes were needed to start this tour! No handicap or stroller access here, either.

Did I mention it was raining this whole time? And Jason was driving a stick shift, which he hadn't driven much since borrowing his stepdad's sportscar now and then in high school? And he had about 30 minutes of sleep overnight on the plane? Oh, and road signs were in German, of course. Made for a great time, as you can imagine.

The trip from the airport to Marksburg Castle was supposed to take just over an hour, but I'm pretty sure it took 3 hours. Once we eventually felt our way to the town of Braubach, we saw the castle high upon the hill, but we then had to figure out how to get there, which wasn't obvious. Once parked, there were many steps up the steep hill in the rain. We didn't feel like waiting an hour and a half to catch the only other English tour of the day, so we borrowed an binder with the English explanations to help us while we joined a German tour.

Cannons were used for defense

Below the window you can see the seat for the toilet. Look out below, because it was really just a hole for things to fall down outside the castle wall. Ick.

Our original itinerary included a leisurely drive up the Rhine to the town of Koblenz, then a leisurely drive down the opposite river bank to Rheinfels Castle in St. Goar, but between our delays and our GPS mishaps, we were grumpy and whooped. Instead, we just drove on to our rented apartment in Heidelberg for the night.

Lovely frescoed ceiling in the chapel

Zachary checking out the display of Medieval armor and weapons

It's quite unfortunate, because the Rhine Valley is littered with castles left and right, but we had to just jump on a highway instead of driving along the river. The rain and cloudy skies didn't exactly make for good viewing conditions anyway.

Summing it all up, day 1 was pretty much a bust. The tour of Marksburg Castle wasn't as exciting as expected. I'm sure it would have been better if we were well-rested, well-fed, hadn't just spent unnerving hours in the car, were able to join the English tour, and the weather was nicer.

Luckily day 2 was much improved. I'll fill you in on that next time. Gute Nacht! (Good night!)


1 comment:

  1. ohhh bummer! how awful. I sure hope it gets better from here. :)

    pretty pics! Love the first one, looking up at the castle!


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