A word of advice. If you don’t like castles, wine and half-timbered houses, do not come to the Rhineland!
It was another beautiful day; we waited until it was cooler to take the dogs out for a walk through Bacharach, which is a pretty cobbled town with lovely old, timber framed houses. We walked up a pathway to the vineyards and were treated to beautiful views across the rooftops over the town.
We hadn’t taken any water with us and the doggies were hot, so we vowed to come back the following day. We dropped back to Weingut Karl Heidrich, sat on a shady table and ordered a wine tasting!
My knowledge of German wines revolves largely around the generic ‘Hock’ and the branded Black Tower, Blue Nun and the dreaded Liebfraumilch, which was expensive in the 1980s – and deemed the height of sophistication!
We chose a selection of six glasses of dry, local wines called “Diebsturm” – ‘The Tower of Thieves’. We started with a light Rivaner, ‘an everyday wine’, which we found very thin and a bit flabby. Then a ‘typical Reisling’, which was OK but a bit flowery. The 2016 Kerner was slightly unpleasant! The ‘tender Sylvaner from the foot of Stahlek Castle’ was my favourite. Then we had Blanc de Noir – a white wine made from red grapes followed by a red wine, Spatburgunder, which tasted like blackcurrant cordial!
A couple of Kiwi wine connoisseurs cum Kiwifruit farmers joined us, which was fun. They were a little more knowledgeable (pretentious!) than us about wines, but we did agree that these wines did nothing to change our views on German wines.
Following our Nose – the Rundtour
It was a cloudy, sunny day and we decided to walk up to Burg Stahlek, the castle that overlooks Bacharach. We ascended the steep steps and stopped in the courtyard to take in the panoramic views over the Rhine while enjoying an ice lolly! Burg Stahleck means ‘impregnable castle’ – although these days, the castle is a rather spectacular Youth Hostel!
We had thought to walk back across the valley to where we had been yesterday and continue to the top, but instead started following the red signs for the Rundtour. It took us on wide, shady tracks through the forest to the village of Steeg.
There we met a chap with a small pug called Ludwig. The chap didn’t seem to get that we didn’t understand German and was chatting away with us! We understood some of it; he was giving us directions, but we managed to convey that he was sending us back the way we had come! We continued upwards, following signs to Burg Stahlberg. We had mixed Burg Stahlberg up with Burg Stahlek and kept wondering why the signs said that the castle was so close, yet Bacharach about 7km away!
We wound up out of the village through more forest, with spectacular slate caverns in the rock and were treated to an awesome view of the ruins of Berg Stahlberg. “We will have to come back and visit that!” we vowed.
We continued on our walk – the direction finding was very easy with signs at every crossroad as well as along the way to confirm your choice. We were delighted that our route actually happened upon the ruins of Burg Stahlberg, to which we had vowed to return! We sat for ages, resting in the shade while drinking in the views, the atmosphere and the history.
The return walk was across open fields, bringing us out in the vineyards above Bacharach and the Rhine. The sun had come out and the views were truly lovely. A castle to the left of me, a chateau to the right…!
We were tired when we got back. We had done 13.2km and when we looked up the walk, it recommended ‘strong boots’. We did it in our sandals! Me Dad would be proud. (He once ‘popped out for a little walk’ and found himself on the top of Tiede, the 12,000ft volcano on Tenerife, in his sandals!)
Join us next time for a Fine Rhine Finale – and a bit of a disaster…
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