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After three days and nights in Amsterdam, our next stop was the Rhine River of Germany.  Our CouchSurfing host Rainer lives in Montabaur, about twenty minutes from the river.  Because of intense traffic in Amsterdam, we arrived at his house well after dark, after getting lost a couple times and even driving through the pedestrian only part of his town.  But we arrived safe and sound, and Rainer offered us a selection of sausages and cheeses, including the famous bratwurst or blood sausage.

riding the ferry with our CS host Rainer across the Rhine River to the town of Boppard

The next morning, we rose early and headed to the Rhine River.  Our first stop was one recommended by Rainer, and we very much enjoyed walking through the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress to a spot that overlooks Koblenz, on the Rhine.  It was a wonderful introduction to the river valley.

We had three main objectives for this day:  Tour a Rhine River castle, ride on a boat on the Rhine River (a Rhine River cruise), and enjoy the famous Christmas Market in Koblenz.  We arrived at the Marksburg Castle just five minutes after the first tour began.  Since time was short, we decided to skip the castle tour and merely drive down along the Rhine River to see what we can see from the road.  When we passed the Rhine River cruise company that we chosen (the only one that runs this time of year), we changed our minds again and decided to head back to the castle for the next tour and then to catch our cruise later in the day.  After taking the ferry across to Boppard and seeing the church and the Roman Ruins there, we ferried back across the river and drove to the castle for our tour.

The tour guide knew English, but he spoke with an extremely strong accent, which we could have understood, except that he also mumbled and had a bad lisp.  All of this made the tour nearly impossible to understand.  Add to that the fact that he constantly was pushing us to hurry up, so that we couldn't even take the photos we wanted, and the tour was a bit disappointing.  However, we did get to see the inside of the Marksburg Castle, an authentic Rhine River castle.

Here our guide is explaining that "sott" was more valuable than gold and was kept in this special box where it would stay dry.  After his explaining about the "sott" for about five minutes, Dave finally figured out what he meant.  Andrew and Rainer, however, asked what he was talking about.  Like them, Dave had at first thought he was saying "sod", as in soil that is used for planting grass.    The guide overheard our whispered conversation and kept yelling at us, "sott. . . sott. . . sott".  Dave finally explained that he was trying to say, "salt".

After the castle tour, since we had already ridden across the Rhine River twice, on the ferry going to and returning from Boppard, we decided to skip the very expensive tourist cruise, changing our minds yet again, and headed for the Koblenz Christmas Market, which turned out to be a few booths scattered around downtown Koblenz selling Christmas items and foods.  We enjoyed a few different kinds of tasty treats and even purchased a traditional German Christmas drink of Tipp des Pages Mon Cherie.  It is fruity and hot and has wine and is topped with whipped cream.  Quite yummy.

After the market, we walked around Koblenz a bit and out to the Deutches Ech, the German Corner, where there is this monument to German Emperor Wilhelm I.

The next day, we rose early again and headed south, toward Switzerland.  We stopped on the way at Heidelberg, Germany, so that we could see this very interesting castle and the remains of one of its walls.  We didn't pay for the tour, but we were able to walk out on top of part of the castle keep for a fantastic view of Heidelberg.

Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Rhine River area of Germany

Lucerne, Switzerland

the Swiss Alps at Murren, Switzerland

Bern, Switzerland

the French Alps

Geneva, Switzerland

Lyon, France

Paris, France

Rouen, France

Normandy Beaches of France

Brugge, Belgium



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