Saturday, 4 October 2014

Day on the Rhein (by Gail)

Every once in a while, Mom gets the idea to go on a day trip. It can be to a castle or a garden show, a museum or on a boat tour, but there are always three things: public transportation, sore feet at the end, and either Dad or I not knowing about it until the night before. As skeptical as I was about today's trip, I must say that it did not disappoint.
First, let me make one thing clear: the beginning was not my idea. I cried, I begged, I threw a fit, but my parents were adamant and deaf to my pleas. You are right to gasp in horror, for I had to get up early on a weekend. A weekend, if you please, when I could have slept the blissful sleep of the weary, but no. They made up some excuse about how we had a bus to catch or something, but is that any reason to rouse a poor little child out of her nice warm bed? If it was up to me, we would have caught the afternoon bus or perhaps a bus tomorrow or the day after, at some nice, reasonable time such as eleven. But why on earth would they listen to me?

However, the day could only get better after such a dreadful start. The bus ride took about an hour, but it was a beautiful trip along the Rhein river, and it passed quickly. After getting off, we wandered into the city, which I'm sure would have been beautiful if I could have seen it; but the gift shops thought otherwise. Let me tell you, it was tourist heaven. The worthless and only-slightly-less-worthless merchandise lined the shelves in tourist trap after tourist trap. One could go in and never come out again.
Emerging dazed and about forty dollars lighter, we stumbled upon the Medieval Torture Museum. It got good reviews on TripAdvisor, and clean bathrooms were worth far more than the modest entrance fee, so we went in. Let me just say that it was good that it had been a while since I had eaten, and Mom was looking positively green; but at least the bathrooms were nice.

After a bit more shopping, we got in the line to ride the cable cars up the mountain. It took forever, but I will be the first one to say that it was absolutely worth it. To be stuck in a long line and then a hot, noisy engine room, and then to get in the car and have it swing up into the cool air and silence… no words can describe it. There were sweeping views of the river and vineyards for at least ten minutes as we glided our way through the air up the mountain. It was heavenly.
Cable cars
Grape harvest, as seen from the cable car
When we reached the top, we strolled leisurely to the Germanic monument overlooking the river. It was originally built as a thumbed nose at the French for having lost the Franco-Prussian War, and is thus covered with German symbols and mottos. After admiring it for a few minutes, we had a picnic lunch and then moved on.


At the top of the hill, we took a hike, with lots of sweeping panoramic views that are not actually all that fun to read about, so let me just say: it was really beautiful. There were lots of vineyards and various pretty scenery, with lots of overlooks and trees (more of the latter than the former, although sometimes it seemed the other way around.) 

Sweeping panoramic view

When we were done, we took the Seilbahn down, which was kind of like a ski lift but in both directions. It was not quite as beautiful and felt quite less secure, at least to Mom. I liked it a lot, but her outlook on heights is a little less sunny than mine, and I'm surprised the bars didn't bend under her iron grip. However, we made it to the bottom okay and took the ferry across the river, where the ice cream was delicious, and then onto the train home. All in all, a very satisfactory day.

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