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I was doing a clean out the other day and came across something wrapped in tissue paper. It was a handmade glass leaf. Not quite stained glass but beautiful nonetheless. It is very contemporary and would look beautiful hanging in a window.
There are a number of things I love about it. It reminds me of something I had as a child bought in Holland and the look of it brought back so many fond memories of my times visiting Holland when I was little. I am an Australian, born to Dutch parents but have always felt a huge connection and pull to my Dutch heritage.
So there was that reason. The other, possibly more important reason, was that I bought it in the little town of Bacharach, Germany, nestled alongside the Rhine. I was by myself and if you have read any of my earlier posts you will know that at that stage of my life, that was a big deal. I didn’t do things by myself, my confidence was pretty low. But that trip was when things really changed. And this was a day that I had fought for, so I could spend it by myself.
Back when we did this trip (2010), I wasn’t into taking photos that much, so I apologise for the quality or lack thereof. For some, I have been able to source better images so that you can see the beauty of Bacharach.
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Our Stay in Bacharach
We were staying in the hostel in Burg Stahleck, a 12th century fortified castle perched above the town of Bacharach. The kids were 10 and 14 at the time and I thought they would love staying in a castle, and being a hostel, this made it affordable.
I am not a fan of hostels. I don’t mind camping or B&B’s and cheaper hotels, and I love apartments, but hostels not so much. We had a private family room so there was ample space and our own bathroom, but bunk beds which I don’t fit into that well.
But the castle itself was interesting and my favourite part was the courtyard where you could sit and watch life go by on the Rhine below. Magical. And the views from our windows were breathtaking.
We had been travelling for over a month as a family of four, and without getting into details, things were challenging on a personal level. And up to that point in my life, before that trip (you can read some of the background here at Our Beginnings), I hadn’t really done anything on my own, nor had I wanted to. That was just too scary. But planning that trip had started to build my confidence and after a week in New York with just my daughter, the confidence had started to soar (about bloody time, I was 41 years old!!!).
As part of the trip planning, I had asked everyone to give me some input into what they wanted to see. The Porsche Museum in Stuttgart was flagged when we decided to visit Germany on our way through Europe. On a whim, I decided not to go. Cars are not my thing, now I can appreciate them. But not that much that I wanted to sit in a car for a couple of hours each way with a family, that quite frankly, I needed a break from.
So I bravely decided (don’t laugh) to spend a day on my own. Of course, that meant I had to catch up on the domestic duties first, like the laundry. I mean wasn’t that my role as a wife and mother? [insert sarcasm here].
My Day in Bacharach
We had already explored the town of Bacharach together so I felt comfortable enough wandering around. It is a delightful town and really is a “chocolate box” town full of timber frame houses and cobblestone streets.
From the castle, a path leads to the town below. I found it a little steep in some places, but overall it was a pleasant walk through the forest before coming out next to the Ruins of the Gothic Wernerkappelle. From there I made my way into the town.
I stocked up on items at the local supermarket. I am a bit of a freak about supermarkets when I’m travelling. I love seeing what they have available, what’s the same, and more importantly, what’s different. I love trying new things and a lot of my “souvenirs” are things I buy in supermarkets.
After that, I looked around the shops. It was a chance for me to duck into the places I had spotted before but couldn’t explore because of the family.
And that’s when I found the art glass store. I had a lovely time chatting to the glass maker choosing something to buy. As any traveller knows, getting things home is a real challenge and we were travelling for almost three months with two kids, so lots of extras were being bought.
But make it home it did, but to this day it is still looking for the perfect place to be hung. Life after that trip changed immensely for me and I hope that by the end of the year I will have finally settled in a place I have been dreaming about and will hang it in a place it deserves.
After wandering for a while, I headed back to the castle. I was keeping a blog – Travelling with Attitude – now available in an ebook, so I spent a happy few hours catching up writing, reminiscing and planning our next few days. I sustained myself by eating cake and coffee, purchased at the front desk of the hostel (I mean who doesn’t have authentic Black Forest Cake in Germany?)
As mentioned before, the courtyard of the castle overlooks the Rhine and the valley of Lorelei, so it wasn’t hard spending time here.
And to top it all off, I ended my day of solitude with a cup of wine purchased for the sum of €6 at the front desk (what else did they have hidden at that front desk?) If I took the cup back I received a €3 refund, but in the end, I bought two cups to bring home and am transported back to that afternoon overlooking the Rhine everytime I use one.
St Goar & Rheinfels Castle
Explore the towns of St Goar (10 minutes by train from Bacharach, running every hour) and visit Rheinfels Castle, easily accessible from St Goar by taxi, foot or car.
Open 9 am – 6 pm (last admission one hour before closing). The castle is closed between November and March. Tickets are €5 (cash payment only), and don’t forget to bring a torch!
Visit Marksburg Castle located above Brabauch and accessible by a KD Rhine boat from Bacharach.
Guided tours are the only way to see the castle and take about 50 minutes. English speaking tours run at 1 pm and 4 pm during the summer season. Everyone is able to join the regular guided tour and will be provided with a brochure in their own language.
Opening Times: 10 am to 5 pm from March to November
Ticket Prices: €7
Burg Stahleck is a youth hostel that has private family rooms. This hostel is very popular for families with young children and offers a kid's program through school holidays. Best to avoid these times if you don't want to deal with kids everywhere.
Options from Private Rooms to Entire Homes are available in the Bacharach area including some lovely timber frame homes in the town.
We had a car which made things easier, but then that also comes with the hassle of parking as well. I would love to explore this area again someday and it won’t be with a car.
Travel by Train - Eurail – Rhine Valley Line Scenic Train
Travel by water - KD Rhine Pass to get around – KD Rhine
Located approximately 50 km from Koblenz and 87 km from Frankfurt, Bacharach is located in the Rhine Gorge. It has a population just over 2000.
The Rhine Gorge is really like something out of a fairytale with castles dotted as far as the eye can see, timber framed medieval villages and towns, friendly people and great food and wine.
From the town of St Goar and the Rheinfels castle to Bacharach, you can spend relaxing days castle hopping. Immerse yourself in another time, indulge your historic passions and step back for an experience you will never forget. I loved the Rhine, and I will be back to conquer more castles!
Cindy Reid is the founder of Travel Charm. Cindy has travelled extensively both personally and with her groups. She has now combined her love of art, food and travel and hosts Painting Trips to Europe and continues to explore and roam in Australia.