Frankfurt, Ruedesheim, & Rhine Cruise
It was time for my annual vacation and after short listing destinations, I narrowed down to Germany – a country that offers diverse experiences across all age groups. I decided to include two theme parks; although in Germany there are as many as 7 theme parks to choose from. There is the ‘Europa Park in Rust’, which is close to Freiburg. Then there is ‘Legoland’ of the famous Lego Company of Denmark which is half way between Munich and Stuttgart.’Phantasialand’ and ‘Moviepark’,close to Cologne and in close proximity to Bonn as well as Dusseldorf are in the Ruhr Valley. Then there is the ‘Heide Park’ near Hamburg and ‘Holiday Park’ which can be accessed from Frankfurt, Stuttgart or Heidelberg and finally there is the ‘Hansa Park’ which is easily accessible from the Baltic Coast.
We started from the Mainhattan of Germany, the city of art and culture, Frankfurt. We were to spend a couple of days in this very important business city of Hesse before heading south into Freiburg and the region of the Black Forest and finally to Bavaria in the south.
We arrived into Frankfurt and were transferred to Hotel Bristol, located very close to the Hauptbahnhof or the main train station.Our entire travel was to be by train starting from Frankfurt and ending in Munich.
After check in and a quick meal we left for the Frankfurt City Tour. The 2 ½ hour city tour starts from the main train station, covering the famous skyline of Mainhattan or the business and banking district, the museum embankment, Old Sachsenhausen, St Paul’s Church and you get an opportunity to alight and walk around the Roemberg and visit the Goethe-House or the Main Tower’s rooftop observation platform 200 metres above street level.
Frankfurt am Main is a very cosmopolitan city and would undoubtedly be termed as the Commercial Capital of Germany as it is the financial and trade fair hub not only for Germany but for the European continent. During our short stay in Frankfurt, we got the opportunity to go up the Frankfurt Main Tower and get a spectacular view of the urban development and sky scraper from the top of the 55 storey building.
One of the interesting highlights of our sightseeing tour was a visit to the historic area of Roemberg, which is a city within the city comprising of the Roemer Town Hall, the Frankfurt Dom or Cathedral and the St. Paul’s Church which is where the first German National Assembly was held in 1848 and is known as the cradle of German democracy.
Frankfurt is also a city of museums and more than 200 million euros have been invested into the unique museum landscape. Those who have followed the works of Goethe must visit the historic museum situated at 23 Grosser Hirschgraben which exhibits the life and works of this famous poet and his contemporaries. The Goethe House,a typical 18th century homeprovides interesting insights into the life style and the routine of the Goethe family.
Frankfurt is also famous for traditional apple wine which has been associated with the city for over 250 years and we visited a local apple wine restaurant Wagner to try ebbelwei or stöffche as known in the local dialect.Traditionally, the apple wine is served in a blue grey crockery jug known as Bembel and a traditional drinker of the apple wine would drink it straight although it could also be had with lemonade.
The old Sachsenhausen where you find restaurants like Wagner is to the south side of the Main river, a wonderful place to cruise and see the city of Frankfurt. An ideal river cruise lasts between 50 minutes one way or 100 minutes return from the Offenbach Watergate from where you can view the impressive skyline of Frankfurt and cover interesting sights en route to the Griesheim Watergate.
Whether you want to do day trips to Mainz and Wiesbaden and onwards to the Rhine Valley or a dinner cruise, the Main river adds yet another dimension to explore Frankfurt.
One can make day trips to Heidelberg, Wiesbaden, Mainz and the romantic Rheingau with its castles and vineyards from Frankfurt. The Upper Middle Rhine Valley – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – is where we planned to head next, to the city of Rüdesheim, to take a scenic cruise on the river Rhine.
We had a long day ahead of us and the best way to travel within Germany is by train as there is an efficient rail network across the 16 Federal States. We boarded the regional express train known as RE which took us from the Frankfurt Main Station and into Rüdesheim.We arrived at the Rüdesheim Railway Station and we had a couple of hours to explore this wonderful town before boarding the KD (Köln Dusseldorfer) cruise to St. Goar and onwards to Koblenz.
The Upper Rhine Valley offers the most stunning scenery as the riverscape is dotted with castles and age old townships and is one of the most picturesque and romantic locations of not only Germany but across Europe and has been inspiration to several painters, artists and authors from across the globe.
Rüdeshiem belongs to the state of Rhineland Palatinate of which the city of Mainz is the capital. Known for its world famous Rheingau Riesling wine, the cuisine of this region is world famous especially the Ritterschmaus or the knight’s meal and the Rüdesheim coffee. The famous Drosselgasse is a street adorned with shops and boutiques.
On our arrival at Rüdesheim, we first took a short walk around this beautiful town before taking the cable car up to the ruins of the Ehrenfels Castle from where you get one of the most picturesque and breathtakingviews of the vineyards and the Rhine Valley.The colour green predominates the regions as you see vineyards everywhere and for lovers of nature and the countryside, an overnight stay in Rüdesheim is well worth it. Rüdesheim also hosts wine festivals and a very interesting Magic Bike Rally, one of the largest European Harley Davidson events in early summer every year.
The capital of Rhineland Platinate is Mainz and that of Hessen is Wiesbaden which is one third the size of Frankfurt. Wiesbaden has 27 hot springs and the interesting part of this region is that nowhere in Germany are two capitals Mainz and Wiesbaden so close to each other and separated by a river. There are wine distilleries to ensure that you can even get wine without alcohol. One of the places to visit is Asbach, a shop which houses selective wines of the regions along with the original Asbach chocolates, Rüdesheim coffee sets and connoisseur glasses. At Rüdesheim you will also find KätheWohlfahrt, the most exceptional Christmas specialty store in the world. Another must visit store off the main shopping street of Drosselgasse is Siegfried’s MechanischesMusikkabinett where you can see and hear one of the largest German collections of selfplaying musical instruments from the 18th to the 20th Century.
As you go up the seilbahn or cable car in the direction of the Ehrenfels castle you get one of the most spectacular views of the Loreley Valley and it is not surprising to note why Rudesheim is one of the 70 UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Sites globally as the region is extremely rich as a singular cultural entity of great beauty with a rich landscape.
There is lots one can do in and around the area, whether it’s a visit to the 1000 year old Brömser Castle or the red wine village of Assmannhausen, or a hiking or biking trail or board the winegrower train or even play golf in one of the golf courses in the area.
It was time for us to board the KD ship to move in the direction of Koblenz and our next stop was at St. Goar, where we would be visiting the Castle Rheinfels on the little Castle Express.