31 May & 1 June
Our second day in Bacharach also happened to be our wedding anniversary. As we had been to see castle ruins the day before, we decided to go and see an intact castle. We were tossing up between two near the little town of Trechtingshausen south of Bacharach, Burg Rheinstein and Burg Reichenstein. We decided on Reichenstein as it was a shorter walk from the town.
We actually ended up being a bit disappointed with it. They seem to be more interested in attracting functions, especially weddings, than tourists, although they do put out tourist promotional material, so I'm not really sure what their target audience is. There was absolutely no interpretive signage, printed or audio guides, although they had photos of weddings everywhere on the lower level. It was also poorly lit- although we saw electric lights everywhere, none were turned on. Daylight could still get in but lighting would have made the place look better. To our surprise, we were also the only ones there.
We still enjoyed getting to go inside a castle, especially as there was access to the top of one of the exterior walls with a good view of the valley. It also didn't cost very much so we didn't feel ripped off, although we did wonder if our time would have been better spent at Rheinstein, or even at one of the castles near Koblenz, a 40 minute train trip down river.
We decided then to take the train down to Bingen and get the ferry across the river to Rudesheim. Once we got to Bingen though, it began to rain, and didn't look like it was moving on anytime soon. We decided it probably wouldn't be worth paying for the ferries to and from Rudesheim just to spend only an hour or so there in the rain. So, back on the train we got to Bacharach, after first buying our onwards tickets to Belgium for the next day.
We chose a little cafe overgrown by climber vines for dinner. We chose a cheaper place as we had already had a few more expensive meals in Germany, and decided we would have a fancier anniversary meal in Belgium. However it was very good value, and André had a rabbit dish. We also got very German desserts- apple strudel with ice cream, and a black forest (schwarzwald) ice cream sundae (vanilla and chocolate ice cream with cherries, chocolate sauce and cream).
The next day it was time to move on to Brugge (or Bruges) in Belgium. Our trip required a few change overs - first 40 minutes to Koblenz, then on to Köln (Cologne), then a high speed train to Brussels in Belgium. We had a bit of a break in Brussels before catching a regional train to Brugge.
Our pension ended up being a very short walk from the train station, just inside the old town. We got there at about 3pm so after we checked in we had time to wander into the town square and investigate the shops, including taste-testing the fries that Belgium is famous for. Not terribly impressed, and the whole eating fries with mayonnaise is weird. They still offer you ketchup though (I don't know why Europe has adopted the American term) which André liked, especially as Belgian ketchup seems to have more sugar in it than Australian tomato sauce, and a spice that I first thought was cinnamon but now think might have been nutmeg. For dinner we found a cheap little döner & kebab shop among the more expensive restaurants in our area with a friendly owner who lives upstairs from his shop.
The daylight hours in Brugge were crazy. It was the furthest north we had been in several weeks, and now that it's summer, it didn't get dark until about 10:30. This resulted in some late nights because it just didn't occur to us to get ready for bed while it was still daylight!