The Rhineland 8/10

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Western Germany: Frankfurt, the Rhine castle towns & Cologne...

Römerberg square in Frankfurt's Altstadt

Thursday, August 12th - Frankfurt

We arrived in Frankfurt at 11am Central European Summer Time. CEST is 9 hours ahead of Pacific daylight savings time. After a stop at an airport ATM for Euros, we followed signs to the airport train station where we took the S-Bahn, suburban railway, to Frankfurt's Hauptbahnhof (central train station, abbreviated throughout Germany as Hbf). Outside the Hbf front door, we caught tram 16/17 for the quick trip to the Frankfurt Marriott, where we checked in around noon. Tired after our overnight flight from Chicago and with rain threatening, we did a quick turnaround and headed out to see the city. Having visited Frankfurt in 2002 as well as making a few one-day stopovers there since, I had a good sense of what to do and see in one afternoon.

We bought passes for the S and U Bahn system and took the S-Bahn to Alte Oper. We walked from the old opera house along Grosse Bockenheimer strasse through "Fressgass" - Gluttony alley, nicknamed because of its many food shops, grabbing a bite to eat along the way (first picture below). Walking southeast toward the river, we arrived at the half timbered buildings of Römerberg Square (large picture above and second picture below) in the old city. Farther east along the river we visited the Roman ruins and the Kaiserdom (third & fourth pictures below) before heading back to the hotel to eat dinner and retire for a night of much needed sleep.

Pfalz & Gutenfels castles, near Kaub on the Rhine

A frankfurter in Frankfurt

Römerberg justice fountain

Kaiserdom & Roman ruins

Maria Schlaff Altar from 1434

Friday, August 13th - The Rhine castle towns

We woke late, ate breakfast at the hotel and walked to the Hbf where we did the initial validation of our Eurail passes at the DB ticket office and then caught the 11:08am train to Mainz, where we connected to Bingen, arriving at 12:30. We walked all around Bingen, then ate lunch at a riverfront cafe, Ritter am Rhine, before boarding the Loreley (first picture below) at 2:30 for our cruise northward. The KD Rhine cruise is free with any Eurail pass but the pace is very, very slow. Some experience doing this cruise in 2002 and advance planning helped speed things along. We traveled north, with the current, and limited the trip length to the stretch with the best castle views. The second and third pictures below and the large picture, top of page right are from the lower river section. I still don't find any significance to the legendary Loreley rock (fourth picture below) beyond it just being a rocky cliff located at the narrowest and deepest part of the Rhine.

Loreley river boat

Bingen's Mouse Castle

Lorch's Nollig castle ruins

The Loreley

Proceeding north from the Loreley, the castles keep on coming, often with quaint towns located nearby (first through third pictures below). Start to finish the cruise took about 3 and a half hours from when we left Bingen until we docked at Koblenz (fourth picture below) which is where the Rhine and Mosel rivers meet. We ate an excellent meal at Tratoria Adria near the Koblenz dock and then walked across town to the train station where we caught the high speed train back to Frankfurt via Mainz. We bought food supplies at the grocery store in the Frankfurt Hbf and had dessert in our room before retiring for the night.

St Goar & Katz Castle

Bopard waterfront

Marksburg Castle

Approaching Koblenz

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Cologne - Monday, August 23rd - Last day of our trip...


We arrived on the high speed train from Munich around 2pm and checked into the Cologne Marriott, which is an easy 5 minute walk from the Hbf. With rain threatening again, we headed out to the Cologne Dom (first picture below) located immediately behind the Hbf. After touring the inside we went around the right side and climbed the 500+ steps to the belfry (second picture below) where we got a good view of a dreary day (third picture below). Leaving the tower, we bought some souvenirs and got directions to Früh am Dom, a busy mostly outdoor beer bar I had visited on a prior trip to Cologne. After a couple quick drinks there, we walked east across the Hohenzollern rail bridge where we noticed thousands of locks with names on them attached to the pedestrian walkway fence (fourth picture below). Asking at the hotel when we returned, we learned that new lovers go to the bridge together and attach a lock to the fence that has their names printed or engraved on it. Then they throw the keys into the river, symbolizing their commitment. Cute. Back in the city, we ate dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe and then headed back across the Hohenzollern rail bridge for some night shots (large panorama picture below). On Tuesday morning we grabbed the high speed morning train (~1 hour) to Frankfurt's airport for our return to LA via Dallas.

Cologne's Dom front

Dom Bell Tower

Dom Tower top view

Hohenzollern bridge commitment locks

Night panorama shot of the Hohenzollern rail bridge

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