Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Barging down the Rhine


One of the greatest characters of my German holiday was the mighty Rhine river, which flows from Switzerland, through Germany, past Bonn and Cologne, and through the Netherlands to the North Sea. My sister and her family are lucky enough to live 5 mins walk from the river, so I spent much of my trip walking up and down its banks, or crossing via car ferry. And then on our last day, we took a cruise along it upriver to a gorgeous old town called Linz.

One of the main things that struck me about the river was the volume of barge traffic travelling up and down it. Whether transporting mounds of bulk coal, pipes filled with oil, or stacks of containers, the traffic was unceasing. The car ferries frequently had to wait for a couple of barges to pass before they could make the next trip across. It really highlighted how important the Rhine still is as a working river.

It's therefore little wonder that cruising along the Rhine, or visiting castles in the Rhine valley, are two of the iconic things to do as a traveller in Germany. We didn't get to many of the castles unfortunately, and had to wait until our last weekend for the cruise season to start, but at least we had a small taste. And in the meantime there were always the river banks, with endless paths along both sides, to explore.

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