All morning we cruised the Rhine River. Since leaving Budapest the upper deck (the sun deck) has been closed due to the low lock clearance and the low bridges but now the Rhine runs wider and has much more clearance. The captain has a smile on his face. I am sure the responsibility of bringing this ship ($$$$) and all his passengers safely through the waters that we have just traveled is huge. Now we arrive at the town of Rudesheim. We are told that there are 10,000 citizens, 5,000 living in the town and another 5,000 in the surrounding areas, and have 2.5 million visitors a year. Now my question would be…if you have 2.5 million guests a year (which we find VERY hard to believe) why would you have nothing, no signs, no placket, no directions, nothing, in English? What percentage of those guests speak and read only German?
High above the town is the Niederwald Monument. We are given tickets to a gondola ride which was built in 1954 and still uses the same cars. It will take us to the top where our guide will explain what we are looking at.
The surprising thing about this monument is the sheer size. It is hard to imagine how big it is until we are told that the smallest figures (all 133 of them) are actually life sized as well as the horse that is depicted. The views are phenomenal.
While we are riding in the gondola we saw people walking these wide, winding roads through the grape fields. The sun is shining and we are not in any hurry as our ship will stay in port here overnight. How about a leisurely stroll back to the ship? Our guide directed us to these steep uneven stairs but tells us once we get beyond a distant restaurant that we will hook up to the gradual path. We get beyond the restaurant but now have have entered into “the land of no return” since it would be nearly impossible to retrace our steps up again. There is s sign but it is in German, so we keep going down on the path we have started. It’s a drainage ditch, it’s a broken brick overgrown with grasses path. It is everything but a wide leisurely path. Our legs are shaking by the time we reach town again. We have time to get back to the ship, have dinner and head out for another tour, this time to Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Cabinet.
The current owner is the son of the original owner and collector Siegfried Wendel. Our cruise director, Sebastian LeRoy, worked in this shop in 2001-2002. There are almost 350 mechanical instruments spanning 3 centuries big and small and all ornate. Cabinets are opened and inside is exposed music instruments that all orchestrate together to produce every type of music.