Fairy tale land, aka The Upper Middle Rhine Valley in Germany. As a whole program, we took an overnight trip to the Upper Middle Rhine Valley. After a two hour bus ride (most of which we all slept on because the night before + catching an early bus = no sleep), we arrived at our hostel in Bacharach, Jugendherberge Burg Stahlec, which was a medieval castle refurbished into a hostel. So basically, I was finally home. After a quick (and disgusting) lunch we walked down, down, down to the main town where we received our bikes.
Let me first start by saying it was raining. Not like a couple of drops here and there, but full on mist in my face, looks like I jumped into the Rhine River that’s flowing right next to us. But, nonetheless, we rode our bikes 10 miles to another town. Anyone who knows me knows my competitive side kicks in really fast during things like this. So, for the bike ride to Bingen, Germany, I was peddling my soaking wet tushie off, only to be passed by the boys in our group who made it an actual competition. Once in Bingen, and once I was thoroughly soaked, we took a city walk with a tour guide who was breathing a little too heavily into the microphone…To be perfectly honest, this town was absolutely boring. Well, I couldn't tell you if it was the town or the tour guide, but either way, we were over it. After the 10 mile bike ride and tour of the city, we hiked up to another castle with spectacular views.
Then, the best part of the day so far occurred – we got free gelato. It was the best gelato I have ever had, better than the ones I had in Italy. I got Nutella and Oreo flavor and savored every late bite. Once all the ice cream in the shop was emptied out, we had free time, which was surprisingly convenient because there was a wine festival going on. I’m going to pat myself on the back here, because my friends and I were some of the only kids who didn’t get wine wasted before having to bike the 10 miles back in the rain…Regardless, it was still a lot of fun. The bike ride back seemed a lot shorter (maybe because Eddie and I were talking about Chanel and life the entire way back) and it wasn’t as wet. And then we walked up the most stairs I have ever seen in my entire life back to the castle. So after sitting on a bike for 20 miles and walking up probably 5 million stairs, it is safe to say that my butt was not too happy with me.
But everything was better when we walked into dinner. It was a typical medieval dinner with wooden spoons and knives, bibs, water, wine, potatoes, pork, and apple turnover. It was hilarious and so much fun. But the end of the dinner, we were all having so much fun that no one cared our hair was curly from the rain or that we were freezing from our soaking wet clothes. To make this adventure even better, we finally got to go to our rooms for the night. I slept in the castle’s tower. I felt like Rapunzel and it was fabulous.
Then LMU did probably one of the dumbest things I could have ever imagined. They program first gave college students free unlimited wine. Then handed them torches lit with fire and took us on a hike through a forest. Luckily, we all survived, and got a good workout from it. It was actually pretty cool. Between the dinner and the walk and our sleeping arrangements, it was like we transported back in time and I was a real princess!
After the torch walk, Natalia and I stayed downstairs with a few other LMU kids and some Australians and British people we met. It was a lot of fun to be perfectly honestly. And it made staying in a hostel almost bearable.
The next morning, we woke up, ate breakfast, packed our lunches and left. We hiked down to the city center where we took a walking city tour. Our guide was great. She explained everything and even had photographs to help go into further detail. The most interesting fact was that they had vineyards on the mountains which were so steep that modern machines could not be used. Thus, everything was picked by hand.
After the walking tour, we hopped on a two-hour ferry ride up the Rhine River. It was beautiful. Every 15 minutes or so we would see another castle that would make us debate which was the most beautiful. The mountains were lush and the castles were extraordinary.
We got off the boat at and hiked up to yet another castle. This is the only castle that hadn’t been destroyed and rebuilt. Marksburg Castle was some 700 years old. We got another tour which was extremely interesting. We found out that the bathroom (which was a room with a hole in the seat that hovered over the courtyard aka your potty went into the courtyard) was in the dining hall and had no door. We also saw the torture chamber and the knights room. The beds in the bedroom were short because the act of laying down was associated with death and so people slept sitting up in hopes to escape death for another night.
After the castle, we ate the best gelato of our lives. Literally the best. Better than Italy. I cannot emphasize how good it was. I got Oreo and Nutella and oh my goodness…
Then we hopped on a train back to the good ol’ city of Bonn.