Image Source: IshitaPhotoIdeas
Suggested Starter: Click below to listen to the beautiful ‘Lorelei’ sung by the Scorpions…
Lorelei, the mystical rock, soaring more than 120m above the Rhine still stands in the midst of the swirling currents, near St. Goarhausen, Germany. The mystery & the myth still float in the mist. Lorelei, the maiden singing the most beautiful song may perhaps lure the hapless sailor to his death, even now. And so goes the German folklore…
The legendary Lorelei still captivates & intrigues the minds of the the thousands of visitors who visit this place everyday. The Rhine is well known for its romantic interludes. But, it is here that the Rhine loses its romanticism. It curves itself to form the steepest ‘U’, as if to desperately defy the ‘Romantic’ tag that has been conferred on it. As if like a rebellious teenager. There is no denying that the Rhine is absolutely dangerous adorned with rapids & reefs & more than a few boats & vessels must have been capsized at the spot where Lorelei Rock stand!
Situated in the the Upper Middle Rhine Valley, the Romantic Rhine Region between the city of Bingen and Koblenz, has been declared a UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE. In this stretch of 65 kms there are more than 40 ruined castles & palaces, all along the Rhine. Each ruin has its own story & each castle has its own legends – some happy & pleasant, while others are laden with heavy grief.
As we drive along the Rhine, the castles & palaces dotting the entire route pop up almost as we inhale! The quaintness, the decay & dilapidation, the rumbles & the remnants – everything add to this region’s charm. This indeed is Heritage. A heritage that is rightly preserved against the test of time. Reeking of the strife & strength, battles & betrayals of the various rulers, one can sense the importance of this trade route. The castles had strategic positions and were used for the collection of tolls – each ruler contended for power & supremacy in this region. Each castle reflected it’s owner’s status.
Today, the castles stand as silent reminders & important witnesses to the history of the region.
Let’s get back to the present – the Romantic Rhine in the Rheingau Region & let’s get back to Romance.
The connotations of Romance here are many –
WINE & ROMANCE
RIVER CRUISES & ROMANCE
RUINS & ROMANCE
CANDLELIGHT DINNERS & ROMANCE
SUNSET & ROMANCE
ROMANS & ROMANCE
Originally,the Romans were responsible for growing vineyards around this region. The Romans brought their culture and, most important of all, their wine to the Rhine. At present, the Germans are doing a fine job so that Rheingau can boast itself to be the best wine – producing region in Germany. This is also the Reisling Paradise. It also boasts of Eiswein, the most expensive & the most famous among wines.
I am most certain that the sailors at Lorelei didn’t get lured to their deaths just by listening to Lorelei singing. They must have also been drunk from the delicious wines that are produced on the vines scattered over the beautiful Valley of Lorelei. Eiswein is a dessert wine & just like desserts, the sweet taste of each sip that we took long back still lingers on – in our memories & in our senses!
We had become absolute Rheingau addicts. We drove along this route many a time, at many a mood & many a season. We drove in Winter when the trees were barren, covered with crispy snow flakes. We drove in Spring when the small pink flowers were about to bud. We drove in Summer when the vibrant greens dotted all the slopes. And we drove in Autumn when the leaves turned brown & dry & were about to blow off the branches.
Again, we drove the next Winter, the next Spring, the next Summer & the next Autumn.
And again, the next Winter, the next Spring, the next Summer & the next Autumn…
We saw the apple trees, the cherry trees, the fig trees, other fruit trees & a whole lot of grape trees. We saw grapes in various shades of green. We also saw the Rhine. And finally the Rhine saw us.
The Rhine saw us the first time I ventured out of our new german home, with my little girl in the pram & I was brave enough to go out for a Rhine Day Trip from Frankfurt with a close friend visiting us. The colour of the surrounding valleys that day was brownish white as Autumn had just passed its mantle to Winter.
The Rhine saw us when we bought our car & my husband got his german driving license. We strapped our screaming little brat in the car-seat at the back & drove straight to the region. It was our first drive away from the city. The Rhine was murmuring gently at the shores while the little brat was screaming! The colour of the surrounding valleys that day was absolutely white.
The Rhine saw us when we had a fight & drove along it to get our emotions sorted out. We drove along the Rhine, into the sunset & into the silence. The colour of the surrounding valleys that day was flame red. The cherry trees were in flames form the setting orange sun.
The Rhine saw us again & again as we brought with us each friend who would visit us. We would only drive along the Rhine… drive into the sunsets, into the cloudy nights, into the pale early mornings… The colour of the surrounding valleys would change from green to brown to orange to pink to yellow and then to complete emptiness!
We drove along Rüdesheim, Assmannshausen, Lorch, Lorchhausen, Kaub, St. Goarshausen, Lahn – all small quaint towns with half-timbered houses and dating back to the Middle Ages. Their narrow alleys would burst with tourists. Rüdesheim was the first historic city at this stretch as we would drive from Frankfurt. The famous Drosselgasse would come alive with live band entertainment with tourists would dance their nights away. In November, Rüdesheim would come alive in a different form – with it’s famous Christmas market.
Each town had a twin town across the river. There was not a single bridge over the Rhine in this entire stretch of 65 kms. At some towns there would be huge ferries where we would cross the Rhine sitting in our cars, while our car would be on the ferry! An Audi perched on a ferry like a medieval cargo. Trans-era Transportation, I would say!
On our night-out in the Romantic Region, we chose a town called Boppard. Bopard was also an ancient, quiet town. We chose Boppard as it was located on the western bank of the Rhine (we were familiar only with the eastern bank). We chose Boppard for another reason, the most important one -to arrive at Boppard we had to cross the Rhine on a ferry, sitting in our cars!
Boppard was once a Roman fort. Our hotel had a beautiful balcony overlooking the Rhine. Along with the murmurs of the gentle flowing Rhine, we would hear the trains shuttling by, on rail tracks running parallel to the shores. The cobbled, quiet lanes, the tourist filled lively squares, the tunes from the accordion floating by – we were transported to an era which had passed by. And transported back to the current era only by the reality of our little brat screaming in her pram!
When night unveils itself on Boppard, new adjectives are born. Dark as the alleys in Boppard. Heavy as the silence that engulfs the medieval town. What could we keep as a souvenir from Boppard? Memories, for sure, but we were longing to buy something that would transport us to the medieval ages!
And that we did. We invested a fortune on a huge, heavy, cast-iron plate which would would guard the fire in the fireplace. On the plate were etched the various coat of arms of some powerful family from the past. I was to be the queen of our ‘own’ medieval palace & was thinking of actually inscribing our family name on it. Our status, our glory, our power – everything was to be showcased by the plate & would adorn our fireplace along with the other ancient family heirlooms…
However, we immediately got a transfer to Dubai. A far-away cry from the quaint German towns, Dubai is the epitome of modern urban glitz. Here, we use fire only to light up our cigarettes. And fireplace, we don’t even have one. The family heirlooms are parked in garages and shown off as the latest acquisition of cars… I love Dubai, though. But Lorelei here seems like an unreal place in our little girls’ fairy-tale books.
And with that comes the realisation that we have been to Lorelei so many times & have come back alive. Lorelei didn’t lure us with her song… but the mystery does & will always take us back, whenever possible. And I hum out to Lorelei – ‘My ship has passed you by…’ along with the Scorpions belting out the Lorelei song –
Lorelei My ship has passed you by/ Now there’s a light that shines on the river/ Blinding my eyes from so far away Shot through the heart but now I know better As hard as it is to resist the song that you play/ Lorelei…
UnBlogging it all… Ishita
The Kolkata Konnektion: This region is famous for it’s spectacular Rhine in Flames/ Night of Bengal Fire. I wonder whether such a fire spectacle on the Rhine has its association with Bengal because of the firebrand image that Bengali women are associated with? Red fluoroscent Bengali Fire Lights the way for a stretch of 26 kms for a fleet of more than 60 illuminated ships. I can never write enough about Lorelei, the Upper Middle Rhine Valley, the Riesling or the Eiswein! Neither can I adequately describe the spectacular Rhine in Flames. But, the thought that Bengal Fire lights can put Rhine on flames is enough to put my imagination ablaze.