Thursday, March 30, 2017

Paris to Swiss Alps: Rhine Cruise (3/30/2017)

Thursday, March 30, 2017
We were docked overnight in Winnigen, arriving at 23:00 yesterday and casting off at 7:00 today, so we did not see much of the town!
We passed a couple castles, and went through a couple more locks, before arriving in familiar territory, the Rhein/Rhine River. The Moselle flows into the Rhine at Koblenz, which we visited in 2014.
The Deutsches Eck/German Corner where the Moselle joins the Rhine
in Koblenz, with a grand statue of Kaiser Wilhelm I
Former Preussisches Regierungsgebäude/
Prussian Government Building (1902-1906) in Koblenz
Kurfürstliches Schloss/Electoral Palace (1777-1794,
destroyed 1944, rebuilt 1950-1951) in Koblenz
Koblenzer Brauerei/Brewery (1970)
Now for the castles on the Rhine, which we saw in 2014. The Upper Middle Rhine Valley was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2002.
Sterrenberg (11C) and Liebenstein (13C) Castles,
known as the Hostile Brothers
There are several legends about the Hostile Brothers. One tells of the two sons of a count, whose names were von Sterrenberg and von Liebenstein, who cheated their blind sister when they divided up their father's inheritance. While dividing the gold pieces with a scoop, they turned it upside down when it was the sister's turn to measure her share. The blind woman used her share to have the cloister built at the foot of the castles the brothers had built. The wealth gained through treachery brought the brothers nothing but trouble. They became such enemies that they had a wall built to separate their castles. When the inheritance had been wasted, they tried to put their differences behind them. They agreed to meet for a hunting expedition early in the morning. The one who woke first was to waken the other by shooting an arrow at the other's window shutters. At the moment when the arrow was shot into the air, the targeted shutter opened and the bowman was horrified to see the arrow pierce his brother's heart. The unintentional killer of his own brother could find no peace; so he travelled to the Holy Land and died there.
Another story tells of the knight Werner of Sterrenberg, a widower who lived in the castle with Henry, the elder son, and Konrad, the younger son, who was a born a knight where his older brother would have made a better monk. The law of inheritance, however, had made it otherwise. Werner preferred Henry because the birth of Konrad cost the life of the mother for which his father never recovered. And as Konrad grew older, his face looked more and more like the face of his mother, which was difficult for his father to bear. The young brothers never quarreled with each other as children, despite being so different. After twelve years, Werner attended the funeral of the Bromser of Rudesheim. The deceased had also lost his wife at an early age and had brought up their only child alone, twelve-year old Angela. Werner brought the girl back to Burg Sterrenberg. After a few years passed, Konrad began to court Angela. Henry was also interested in her, though he would not dare show it. But being the eldest son, the father encouraged Henry to woo Angela, which he eventually tried, but Konrad let him know he wanted Angela. It was difficult for Angela to choose between the two suitors. Konrad had more spirit but Henry was the heir. In the end she chose Henry. But Konrad doubled his efforts to win her over. The father wanted to send his younger son away for a while. When Bernhard of Clairvaux showed up seeking young recruits to join him onhis  crusade, Werner forbade Henry to go. However, Konrad decided to join him. Before heading off Konrad sought out Angela who asked him if she would see him again to which he answered, ”If you promise to wait for me, then certainly.” She then asked if he would keep his heart free for her, and he swore “Heart and Hand.” After Konrad left, Henry began courting Angela, but she did not want to break her word to Konrad. The father resigned himself to the inevitable and built a second castle for the new branch of the family, calling it Liebenstein, because it was built for a pair in love. Years later, a crusader ship sailed down the Rhine, with a knight in black armor who was surprised to see the newly built castle above. Next to Konrad stood a woman from Greece, with black hair and eyes. She had helped him escape from the Saracens holding him prisoner, and he brought her home as his wife. Konrad came home assuming Angela had married his brother. When Konrad arrived at Burg Sterrenberg, he saw a coffin with the body of his deceased father. He drew his sword to pay his last respects, but Henry misunderstood the gesture and drew his sword falling upon his brother, especially since he was harboring hatred for the more fortunate brother, and was angry for the years of his thwarted love. Angela's heart was broken due to disappointment in love and faithfulness, and now the two brothers trying to kill each other was simply too much to take. She threw herself between the swords, and both brothers turned aside and sheathed their swords. Alone, they each entered the castle that belonged to him and locked the doors. Angela became a nun. Konrad built the famous “Quarrel Wall” between the two castles of Sterrenberg and Liebenstein. The wall, which still stands today, was built to prevent them from killing each other…
(Our Program Director, Mieke, told a version of the last story, as she provided a narrative as we cruised along the Middle Rhine.)
In fact, Liebenstein is a forecastle of Sterrenberg, and adds to its defenses.
One of the local cookie specialties
Lunch: Dessert today was apple beignets!
After lunch, we disembarked in St Goarshausen to board motor coaches that would take us to the top of the Loreley (which seems to be the latest accepted spelling of Lorelei). Meanwhile, the Viking Hild was leaving us again!
Loreleyplatz/Lorelei Square with a relief
of the statue that sits on a spit at the end of town
St Goarshausen with Burg/Castle Rheinfels on the hill behind it
The ferry to St Goar across the Rhine River
People wondered what was on the other side of the steep slopes along the Rhine River. We were told that the whole area was once a plateau, with rivers meandering across the top. Over time, the rivers eroded deep valleys for themselves, but the rest is gently rolling hills of the plateau.
The view straight down from the Loreley
Hey! There goes the Viking Hild!
(Note the sharp turn of the Rhine, which makes navigating
at this point so dangerous; there is a sort of traffic light
that lets ships heading upriver know if any downriver
ships (who have right of way) are coming
A carving in a stone upon which Loreley sat...
touch it for everlasting love...
Tamiko attempts to lure sailors while sitting on Loreley's seat
(provided by the local Lions Club!) (KSS)
At the Visitor Center we watched a 3-D film that showed sights around the Middle Rhine.
A boy with sticks - so universal!
View towards St Goarshausen with Burg/Castle Rheinfels above it,
and the town's winter harbor below (KSS)
Here is Loreley (1979 by Mariano Pinton from Italy)
sitting in yet another spot, on a hard to reach terrace
because of construction of a "myth park" on the plateau
There are many versions of the legend of Loreley, the most popular being the one written by Clemens Brentano's in 1801, telling of a beautiful maiden with many suitors. But Loreley fell in love with the Count of Katzenelnbogen, who married a girl of noble birth. In despair, she jumped off the jutting rock cliff into the Rhine River and drowneds. She became a siren who took revenge by luring men by her song, which is related to the murmuring echo among the steep cliffs in the area. Sailors and fishermen who become entranced by her singing, either jump into the river in an attempt to reach the source of the song, only to be dashed upon the rocks, or they forget to guide their boats among the dangerous rocks and crash.
Back in the 1200s, many believed the treasure of the Nibelungen was buried at the foot of this jutting cliff, and it was guarded by the three nymph daughters of Father Rhine. The youngest of these "nixes" was Loreley, who according to Heinrich Heine's poem, sits combing her golden hair with a golden comb, while singing her alluring song.
Other versions have Loreley as a woman with mystical powers who sat on the cliff on moonlit nights (or the moonlight reflected on the surface of the Rhine looked like flowing golden hair) and sang her song luring many to their deaths. So many died that soldiers were sent to imprison her. Lorelei took off her sparkling jewels (or pearls), tossing them in the Rhine, causing the river to rise, bearing a chariot pulled by horses with white manes. Loreley jumped in the chariot and vanished, while the river resumed its former course.
Or was it that Loreley loved Roland, the knight,, who first wanted to go to war to earn honor and glory? When Roland did not return, she sang her sad songs from the top of the cliff, again causing many men to lose their lives. She was brought before a magistrate who judged she should be sent to a convent. Along the way, Loreley asked to climb the cliff for a last look at home. Along came a ship with her knight on board, and she called out his name. In wonder, he jumped from the ship to be with her and died, and she jumped in the river to be with him. Or something like that!
It could be that first came the name of the cliff, Lorelei, coming from local words meaning pure slate, luring rock, or lookout rock.
The vineyards here are more terraced
Back on the motor coaches, we were taken to meet the Viking Hild in Kaub. Soon after casting off, we were given a demonstration on preparing Rüdesheimer Kaffee/Rüdesheim Coffee, made with flambéed brandy.
Rüdesheimer Kaffee demonstration
Later there was the reception for the Viking Explorers Society.  Once you are on your second trip with Viking, you are a member, and can enjoy free cocktails and some hors d'oeuvres. The Aquavit Terrace can no longer hold all the people, since it was reported that just over half the total number (190) of today's passengers were repeaters. Some were on their 12th voyage!
Line of champagne bubbles from
the stem of the glass
A waterboarder... hmm, there must be a different term for that!
Oh, a wake boarder shows off for us (and immediately falls down!)
Our choices for dinner were the Cream of White Asparagus Soup (vermouth & lemon-scented), Herb Provençale Rack of Lamb with ratatouille, rissole potatoes and gravy, and Milk Chocolate Mousse with strawberry salad.
The Evening Entertainment was the Upside Down Duo, a vocalist and pianist performing jazz and jazzed up favorites.

Next: Mainz.

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