Monday, July 14, 2014

Europe Day 4: The Rhine River and Schoenburg Castle Hotel

Sorry for the long break between posts.  Back on track now...

The next morning in Heidelberg, we wandered the Haupstrasse until we found a bakery that was open (a difficult task!) and got coffee and pastries.  The food was good, but definitely like my parents warned us--prettier than they were delicious!  And on our way back to the hotel to check out...a pigeon got my Dad!  After a quick change of clothes, we headed toward the Rhine River.  James is an electrical engineer, so he took about 1,000,000 pictures of power lines, plants, and wind turbines...but this is one of the better ones.  Haha.

Everywhere we turned, there were castles.  Seriously, at some points along the river, we could see 3 castles without turning our heads!  We toured the Burg Rhinefels in Saint Goar and spent way more time there than I thought we would.  I think I'm officially a castle nerd. We looked at almost every square foot of the castle...walking through old mine tunnels, checking out the views, exploring the brewery room, and dreaming about a wedding in the Big Cellar (that part may have been just me). There was a family with two young boys having a picnic in the grass and it really made me want to move to Europe.  Can you imagine packing up on a Saturday morning, driving to a castle for a picnic lunch, and having supper at the Hofbrauhaus all in the same day?  Sigh.

Bacharach was our next stop along the river.  I loved the architecture in this small town and we had a delicious lunch and glass of wine in a restaurant courtyard in the middle of town.  (Sadly, I forgot to take photos of our food before we had devoured it!) 

 Because the region is known for its wine, we felt we had to taste the Riesling ice cream--and it was heaven!  Mom got a scoop of it while I got (translated) "herbs of the forest" flavor and we shared both.  Mine almost tasted like a basil-mint hybrid, and it was good, too...but I could have eaten my weight in the Riesling one!

After lunch, we headed to check in at the Castle Hotel Schoenburg just down the river in Oberwesel.  (I will warn you, though, if you plan to stay...let them carry your bags up for you!  We didn't think the walk looked that long and our bags weren't large...but it wore us out!)  Our room was so much fun!  We overlooked the courtyard and our shower even had a lion's head with a water spout.

We spent quite a while touring the expansive garden at the castle.  There was a huge outdoor chess set (the pieces were waist-high!), a treehouse library (a dream!), a South African-themed hut, and even a bocce ball court!  Mom and James enjoyed that while Dad and I enjoyed the lounging chairs and the view of the Rhine. :)  At this point in the trip, we all really needed a relaxing afternoon!

We had drinks outside on the terrace (champagne with raspberries for the girls and beer for the guys) before our formal dinner that evening.  The meal was four courses including salmon, veal, spargel, and crepes Suzette for dessert!  It was very leisurely and took two hours.  We loved the relaxing time and the waitresses in their native costumes.  :)  

I can still feel exactly what it was like standing where this photo was taken.  This is the picture that makes me want to go back the most.