浪漫莱茵寻堡记ROMANTIC CRUISE DOWN THE RHINE
莱茵河中游一段延绵65公里的水路被誉为“浪漫莱茵”，迂回蜿蜒，风景壮阔。河的两岸，还因为拥有超过40栋中古世纪城堡和许多秀丽的葡萄村庄而在2002年被列入世界遗产。A 65km-long stretch of the River Rhine offers expansive and spectacular scenery, with more than 40 mediaeval castles and picturesque grape-growing villages lining its banks
莱茵河于我，就是梦中的那一条河，流淌着神话、传说，曾赋予多少文人墨客浪漫的遐想。你可以在拜伦、大仲马、雨果、席勒的文章里看到它 的身影，也可以在贝多芬、舒曼、布拉姆斯、瓦格纳的音乐里听到它的呼吸。它是文学和音乐的缪斯，美丽而遥不可及。但我终于掂量着它的分量登上了Uniworld寰宇河轮的S.S. Antoinette号，开始期待已久的莱茵河之旅。八天七夜，全程顺流而下，沿途停靠德国城市凯尔（Kehl）、曼海姆（Mannheim）、吕德斯海姆（Rudesheim）、科布伦茨（Koblenz）、科隆（Cologne），最后在荷兰阿 姆斯特丹下船。
当天我们起了个早，上岸后先参观沃洛 斯城堡（Schloss Vollrads）。这是位于莱茵高（Rheingau）地区最古老的酒庄之一，早在1211年，这里就有了第一次葡萄酒销售记录。酒庄的标志性建筑是一座雄伟的方塔，建于古罗马废墟之上，周围都是画中有诗的田园风景。
小镇鼎鼎有名的画眉鸟巷（Drosselgasse）异常迷人，宽不过3米，长140米，却有着琳琅满目的特色小店、餐馆、啤酒屋，游人如织，一步一景。离小巷不远处，还有德国第一座音乐盒博物馆Siegfrieds Mechanisches Musikkabinett，收藏了18世纪至今各种造型音乐盒和古老留声机，其精密的机械运作、精巧的雕刻装饰，简直可媲美艺术品。我在里头流连忘返，差点耽误了上船的时间。
My heart soared as I boarded my River Rhine cruise around dusk in the small German town of Breisach. This was in April and spring had brought along with it dazzling changes in the air. The waters of the gurgling Rhine glittered at my feet and there appeared to be no limit to the broad skies overhead. The sun appeared ethereal, casting its crimson rays onto the waters of the river. Everything felt like a dream.
To me, the Rhine is the river of my dreams. It has fed legends and myths, as well as the romantic reveries of many a writer and composer. It is the beautiful muse of literature and music: beautiful, yet out of reach. But then, I finally made the move and boarded the S.S. Antoinette, owned by Uniworld River Cruises, for my cruise down the Rhine. For eight days and seven nights, we sailed downstream and made stops at Kehl, Mannheim, Rudesheim, Koblenz and Cologne before finally disembarking at Amsterdam.
Unlike cruises at sea, river cruises use much smaller ships that carry far fewer passengers and you do not get a boundless sea view. However, you are compensated with the beautiful scenery you sail past and a cruise along the river is really the best way to experience the Romantic Rhine.
The Rhine is the longest river in Western Europe with a length of 1,233km. It originates in the Swiss Alps and flows through Liechtenstein, Austria, France and Germany and into the North Sea at Rotterdam in the Netherlands.
The original itinerary of my river cruise covers almost the entire length of the Rhine, beginning at Basel in Switzerland and travelling past the southern French-German border before entering Germany at Rheinstetten. The vessel then travels northwards for over 1,000km through Germany. Unfortunately, as the water locks at Basel were under maintenance, we had to drive from Basel to Breisach to board the cruise, thus missing the section of the Rhine that would have taken us through the city of Basel.
The Rhine’s best scenery is not found in its upper reaches but in its middle section, a 65kmlong section between Bingen and Koblenz known as the “Romantic Rhine”. Here, the
river meanders through the Rhine Valley, with new vistas appearing at every turn of the corner. The banks of the river were listed as a World Heritage Site in 2002 thanks to the more than 40 mediaeval castles and several beautiful grape-growing villages along the way.
Our boat made a stop at Rudesheim on the morning of Day 5, a small town in the Black Forest region of Germany with a population of less than 10,000.
Blessed with both mountain and river scapes, as well as mysterious castles and charming alleys, the town is filled with vineyards as far as the eye can see. Traversing from one town to the next, one can easily sample excellent local Rieslings.
We woke up early that morning and, after arriving on shore, we first visited the Vollards Castle. Home to one of the oldest wineries in the Rheingau region, the first wine sale here was recorded in 1211. The landmark structure of the wine estate is a majestic square tower built upon Roman-era ruins, surrounded by a picturesque pastoral landscape.
Rudesheim is a typical European town with streets lined by rows of beautiful mediaeval-era wooden-truss structures. Looking at the local residences, bunkers, wooden bridges and moat, you might be forgiven for thinking you’ve entered a fairytale world.
The famous Drosselgasse is exceptionally charming. A street that is just 3m wide and 140m long, it holds a dazzling variety of speciality shops, restaurants and beer houses. Just a stone’s throw away from here is Germany’s first museum of music boxes, the Siegfrieds Mechanisches Musikkabinett. The exquisite decorations on these devices make them practically objects of art in their own right. I lingered a little too long here and almost missed the boat.
At 4pm, we set off for Koblenz and the most beautiful section of the Rhine. The excitement on board was palpable as people started congregating on the deck. There, we took in the view of both shores while listening to the commentary on the public announcement system.
The river is lined with a dense constellation of heritage sites, and mediaeval churches and villages are a common sight along the way. The vineyards that hug the valleys and hills tell of a long history of engagement between man and nature. Little wonder it became a wonderland in the dreams of writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and a natural paradise in the heart of dramatist Heinrich von Kleist.
While the Rhine does not originate in Germany and also eventually flows out of Germany, the most important natural sights of the river are concentrated within Germany, and the sights of the Middle Rhine Valley leads one’s heart to surge. A fellow traveller on the boat quipped: “We paid our fare precisely for this.”
The castles scattered along the banks of the Rhine each come with their own beautiful moving stories. Take, for instance the Rheinstein Castle. Built
as a summer palace for the Holy Roman Empire in the 14th century, this was rebuilt in the 17th century in the New Gothic style. Opera singer Hermann Hecher purchased the castle in 1975 and opened it to the public after restoration works.
Pfalzgrafenstein Castle is another must-visit site. Located on an islet, the castle was built in 1327 and was a tax collection station until 1866. During the Franco-Prussian War, the Prussians used the castle as a beachhead to cross the river and subsequently defeat the French.
The Burg Katz (“Cat Castle”) and Burg Maus (“Mouse Castle”) were key fortresses from the 14th century. They are not far from The Lorelei, a 132m-high, steep slate rock on the right bank of the River Rhine and also the most treacherous spot along the river. German poet Heinrich Heine’s narrative poem Lorelai is about the female demon that allegedly haunts the Rhine.
Some of these castles are essentially ruins that look over the Rhine in silence, while others have become hotels or, after being conserved, tourist destinations. In the afternoon, the boat berthed at Koblenz and I took the opportunity to visit the castle Marksburg because if you wish to visit only one castle on the Rhine, it would be this one; it is the only castle that has been preserved since mediaeval times and which has survived the ravages of war.
A series of steep and uneven steps lead to the castle. When one finally makes it to the castle and takes in the view, one sees the meandering Rhine take an acute turn around the fortress. The sight of the river valley is a truly awe-inspiring one and completely different from the scenery that one sees on the boat. Standing in the castle, one can almost hear the braying war horses of the mediaeval warriors and see the bloody campaigns of war unfold alongside the love stories of yore.
We returned to relative calm with the next section of the Rhine. However, there was more in store for us. At each stop, we were taken on shore for sightseeing. These riverside towns, which all have their own distinctive characters, are highly compact with the main sights concentrated in a small area. In these towns, such as Colmar and Strasbourg in France, and Heidelburg and Cologne in Germany, one can see the beauty of architecture, culture and history. If I have to write about my experiences in each and every one of them, I will have to write another article altogether.
This was the first time I had travelled on a river cruise and the experience was incredible. I was most impressed by both the accommodation and guided land tours available. Who said cruising was for retirees?
雄踞在山崖上的莱茵石堡，原为罗马帝国的夏宫，现为莱茵河的热门景点，在城堡上可以眺望到宾根峡谷和葡萄酒村庄阿斯曼豪森的美妙景色。Rheinstein Castle, built on top of a cliff, was originally a summer palace during the Holy Roman Empire. Today, it is a tourist hotspot where visitor can gaze upon Binger Loch and...
从盘踞山上的城堡居高临下俯视孕育德国文明的莱茵大河，有一种气拔山河的恢弘气势。There is a sense of magnificence when one looks down upon the Rhine, the cradle of German civilisation, from a castle perched on top of a hill. (Photo: Woo Mun Ngan)
画眉鸟巷是吕德斯海姆镇最著名，也是最美丽的小巷，狭窄的街道两旁都是极富德国特色的葡萄酒屋和个性小店，五彩斑斓的房子美不胜收，穿梭其中有如置身童话世界。The Drosselgasse is the most famous — and prettiest — street in Rudesheim am Rhein. The narrow street is lined on both sides with distinctively German wine bars and speciality...
河轮在内河间川行，没有无边无际的壮阔风景，却有隽秀俊美的旖旎风光，是漫游莱茵河的最好方式。The cruise travels along inland waterways. While there are no expansive views like at sea, beautiful scenes still await the traveller. Cruising is the best way to tour the Rhine. (Photo: Uniworld)
S.S.Antoinette河轮装潢典雅，提供一价全包式服务。The S.S. Antoinette is elegantly decorated and provides a host of services at a flat price. (Photo: Uniworld)
Uniworld寰宇河轮堪称河上的精品酒店，其舒适度和服务水平，改变了我对“游船”的观念。Uniworld’s cruise vessels are veritable hotels on water. The comfort and service I experienced on board have changed my perception of cruising. (Photo: Uniworld)
马克斯堡立于德国城市布劳巴赫的丘陵之上，是莱茵河谷唯一未曾遭到破坏的中世纪城堡。这座雄伟庄严的防御要塞建于14世纪，至今仍保留着完整的内部空间如厨房、骑士大厅、小教堂、军械库、酒窖、壁垒和塔楼。Marksburg is located on a hill in the German city of Braubach. Built in the 14th century, this impressive and stately edifice is the only mediaeval-era...
沃洛斯城堡是全世界最古老的酒庄之一，历史学家推估，城堡的指标性建筑塔楼，是建于西元100年或200年间的罗马时期堡垒。The Schloss Vollrads is one of the world’s oldest wineries. Historians believe the landmark tower of the compound was built during the Roman era, between 100 and 200 CE. (Photo: Woo Mun Ngan)
莱茵河穿过峡谷，河道变得蜿蜒曲折，沿岸有许多美丽的小镇和大片碧绿的葡萄园，风光之美令人目不暇接。欧洲还没有哪一段大河流域能像萊茵河中游，荟萃了如此浑然一体的自然与人文景观。The Rhine meanders through narrow river valleys. The scenery is spectacular, with beautiful towns and verdant vineyards dotting its shores. There is no other major...