Der Romantisches Rhein
I got off to a late start today. Two reasons: I needed to find reliable Wifi and second, I needed to get my mobile phone working. I forgot that all shops, everything (I mean EVERYTHING) is closed on Sunday in Germany. I did get a SIM card, but you have to register it with the government and… they don’t do that on Sundays. So in the video above, you see me start further south than I did and get to Rudesheim (that was last night… a glitch in my app). Then I go back to Geseheim – that was this morning to go to the Deutsche Telekom store and get a phone card.
But then, I head north through the Mittel Rhein (Middle Rhine). This is a UNESCO World Heritage site because of the many castles and vineyards, and the areas unique history from ancient times to mideval to the modern industrial revolution. The Roman Limes (“Limits” – a border wall) started just north of this stretch – I’ll stop by a reconstructed Roman Limes tower in a day or two. The castles – mostly rebuilt during the 19th century when a wave or Romantic Nationalism swept Germany and the “Vater” (Father) Rhine was considered one of the most important areas to the German nation.
Of course this nationalism and love of the Rhine isn’t necessarily surprising. We have our places, like New York or the Rockies, or Washington DC, that define America. So it is no wonder that as the Allies strted to threaten the Rhine during the last days of World War II, German resistance increased as American, British, and French troops approached Vater Rhein. I’ll be passing the bridge at Arnheim in a few days and talk more about this then.
My day was pretty tiring though – in all about 40-50 miles instead of the planned 30. Not what I intended, but when you backtrack you double your miles (there and back again). It was also pretty hot for Germany in June. In fact it was pretty hot for me… even though it was only about 80 degrees and not humid. I think I’m turning into a true Pacific Northwesterner…
But, I did find an Esso gas station and bought the most amazing flavored water with electrolytes. My sister has a book from Matthew Inman, a cartoonist and runner. He talks about getting into running and a hellish 10k run in Japan. He was chased by a swarm of bees, cut by some bamboo or grass, and it was hot and humid. But near the end of his ride he found this strange Japanese drink and it was like heaven. I kinda had a similar experience. This stuff was awesome!
Anyhow, the views of this river are superb. Pictures can’t do it justice. I should have taken a panorama… maybe I will tomorrow. The steep slopes and rocky outcroppings soar thousands of feet into the air. I could almost imagine Julius Caesar’s legions looking across from the occassionally flatter eastern side (it is often steep on both sides) and thinking – “How do we get across and subdue those wild German tribes? We have pacified Gaul, but how much further into this wild wooded land will we go?” Caesar only crossed the Rhine once, on a Legionnary built bridge, to subdue the Sugambri and Suebi tribes. He retreated back to the east bank within days.
At 6pm I made it to Campingplatz Sonneneck just north of Boppard. It is a nice campground, but German campgrounds are very different from campgrounds in the U.S. The U.S. has ample land and beautiful natural spaces – the mountains, rivers, and wilderness of the United States is really our ancient natural heritage, not unlike the castles and wineries of the Rhine. That’s why we have the National Parks and should support and protect them. But I got off track.
German camping is kind of like a fancy KOA or private RV campground. Some trees, for sure, but also a swimming pool, showers, mini-golf, wash machines, and a restaurant. I’m writing this at the Sonneneck restaurant right now, sipping glass of half-dry Hamm-Boppard Rhine Wine after a meal of lasagne (c’mon… it looked super yummy after 40 miles, give me a break!). Next bedtime.
Hope you all are having had a great Monday! Gute Nacht and bis spater!