The sun deck on Emerald Star proved to be the perfect vantage point to see a myriad of castles, popping up along the riverbank so regularly it felt as if they had been specially constructed for the pleasure of the river cruising population. The scenery was staggeringly beautiful: rows of pretty houses spread out like a ribbon along the river, colourful churches standing tall in the centre of the towns and villages and, of course, the castles themselves, proudly sporting flags atop their battlements.
Our guide, Brigitta, joked that castle tennis was about to begin and as we looked left and right we were transported to another time, hearing stories of lost love and revenge linked to each castle: Sterrenberg and Liebenstein (the love triangle of Henry, Konrad and Angela) and Rheinstein and Reichenstein (Helmbrecht and Gerda's love triumphing against the will of Uncle Gunzelin)
After a morning of breathtaking views, the afternoon proved to be just as enchanting. I don't know if the fabulous weather had something to do with it, but it seemed everywhere we looked, Germany was putting on a show for its visitors. The castle cavalcade completed, Rüdesheim beckoned. A classic wine village, famous for its narrow Drosselgasse lane with back-to-back taverns, it is also the home of Siegfried's Mechanical Musical Instrument Museum. Housed in a beautiful 15th century building, which is an attraction in itself, all manner of exquisite musical boxes are on show, from self-playing pianos to the tiniest nightingale chirping in a silver box. If you ever owned a jewellery box with a ballerina twirling around inside, you will adore the curiosities found here.
Rüdesheim is also famous for its Asbach brandy and whilst we didn't have the time to visit the distillery on this visit, I managed the next best thing that evening on the terrace after dinner - a special Rüdesheim coffee made with vanilla cream, sugar cubes and flambéed Asbach brandy. Prost!
More photos from the Rhine Gorge and Rüdesheim below:
|Pretty village of Niederheimbach|
|Pfalz castle which used to collect tolls from river traffic|
|The town of Oberwesel|