Thursday, December 25, 2008

Onward towards Stephi!

So we leave Belgium and head for Germany and our beloved Steph.

The winter days all seem to start the same - with the very late arrival of the morning sun, grey and somewhat bleak. Being overcast, the weather remains warmer rather than cold, for which we are both thankful.

We head from Liege into Germany off the autobahn and onto the smaller local highways that take us over the tops of mountains where the snow from a week ago is still melting on the roadside, down twisting and turning hairpins (boy the car corners beautifully!) into the valleys where even after one decent snow and melt the rivers run fast.

We had left without having breakfast (still full from the Thai meal the night before) and by 11 am we are getting hungry. At Monschau we come across a handmarket outlet that specialises in hand blown glass and we decide to have lunch there. Schintzel with pommes frites (french fries) and salad followed by struedel for Michael and waffles with kirsch (cherries) for Maria. mm mmmm!

Then we head for Koblenz and the Rhine. Before we get into Koblenz, we turn south for St Goar and the areas that I visited in 2006. By this stage it is getting dark and when we reach St Goar, it is fully dark with both the Burg Reinfels and the Cathedral lit. It is such a beautiful site. We stop so that Michael can take some photos and I try to phone mum (but can't get an answer) and so I phone Donna (sister) to tell her we are there again. Of course, time calculations are not always the best when you are all excited and I calculate Australian time behind us instead of ahead, so wake her at 4 am - don't laugh - it could be YOU next time!!!

I suggest that we head for Bacharach just a little further south to stay for the night. Like St Goar, it is all lit up for Christmas. Somehow however, it feels more special as the streets here are very narrow and paved with cobblestones worn through the ages. We look for accommodation but find that mny of the hotels and guesthouses are closed for the winter and those that are not are fully booked. It is getting later now - about 6:30 pm and very dark. We decide to puch through to Mainz and so hit the open road again. Although we are travelling along the Rhine, it is dark and we can only sense the river. We pass the Loreley Rock again with the tower lit. Further south, we come to the river bridge across to Bingen close to where the Nahe River joins the Rhine. As this is a much larger town, we call in there. We can get into the City proper quite easily, but again are having trouble finding somewhere to stay. Finally, one hotel we call at knows of another that has vacancies and calls ahead to the Hotel Krone. At this point, so long as the bad lies flat on the floor, we could not have cared what it was like. It turns out to be very comfortable and on the river, adjacent to the very busy rail line between Koblenz and Mainz. But there kitchen is closed for the night so we venture down the road to the next guest hotel where Maria has a traditional meal of Siedfleisch and Kartoffelknoedel (potato dumplings) and a local Rhine Reisling and Michael has a german mixed grill and mashed potato. Both were excellent and Maria finishes with Apfelkorn (apple schnapps).

Then to bed and a good sleep.

Breakfast is served in the restaurant and consists of typical german bread rolls with cold meats (such delicious parma ham) and cheeses plus coffee and jams etc. A great start to the day's journey. Today, we head for Stuttgart along the autobahn - closer to Steph . . .

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