Coffee and Wine in Rudesheim

Sailing the Rhine aboard Avalon Waterways’ Avalon Expression. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Friday, September 15, 2017

I can’t get enough of this massive, wall-to-wall panoramic window in my Panorama Suite aboard Avalon WaterwaysAvalon Expression. Every morning, I open my curtains to reveal another amazing tableau on the Rhine River.

Today’s scene: a striking sunrise over the hills and valleys near the famous Lorelei Rock as we made our way southbound towards Rudesheim, Germany. Compared with the colourless grey backdrop of Cologne last evening, the vibrant rays of amber sunshine were enough to make me dress and go up on deck, camera in-hand, to take as many pictures of our beautiful surroundings as I could before these first rays of light disappeared.

This morning, a beautiful scene presented itself outside the windows of my Panorama Suite. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Avalon Expression sails southbound on the Rhine…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…towards the famous Lorelei Rock. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Shortly after nine o’clock, Avalon Expression came to the Lorelei – a famously narrow stretch of water on the Rhine. Marked by a massive, 433-foot high vertical cliff face and bookended by several serpentine turns, this portion of the Rhine was known as a deadly and treacherous one in days gone by.

Located at kilometre 554.2 along the Rhine, the Lorelei’s waters are 80 feet deep – some of the deepest on the Rhine. The story behind it goes like this: sailors traversing these waters were so entranced with a beautiful young maiden (Lorelei) that they ran their ships aground on the rocks and were never seen again, victims of her beauty and the lure of her siren-song.

Now, one man – the young Prince Palatine – was so enamoured with Lorelei that he had to see her for himself. His “passionate yearnings” were not returned, and he met the same fate as the sailors.

Approaching the Lorelei (the cliff face on the left). Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

While the legend of the Lorelei is just that, this serpentine stretch of water is still quite treacherous…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…and busy. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

His father, the Duke Palatine, climbed the cliff to avenge his son’s death. Legend has it that in order to escape to safety, Lorelei threw her necklace from the cliff into the waters below, which rose up and carried her away. No word on how the Duke reacted.

An alternate theory, proposed by yours truly, is that this just happens to be a really tricky stretch of water that modern technology and communication has managed to make navigable. Your pick.

As we cruise southbound along the Rhine this morning, a look at what’s happening today aboard Avalon Expression, courtesy of the Avalon Waterways Daily Newsletter:

  • 6:00-7:00am: Early Riser Breakfast (Lounge).
  • 7:00-9:00am: Full Buffet Breakfast (Restaurant).
  • 9:00-10:00am: Late Riser Continental Breakfast (Lounge)
  • Noon: Light Lunch (Lounge)
  • Noon: Full Buffet Lunch (Restaurant)
  • 1:00pm: Avalon Expression arrives in Rudesheim
  • 1:30pm: Included Feature – Visit of Rudesheim
  • 4:00pm: Mini-train ride back to the ship
  • 4:00-4:45pm: Coffee & Cake (Lounge)
  • 4:45pm: All Aboard. We sail for Miltenberg.
  • 6:45pm: Port Talk – Miltenberg (Lounge)
  • 7:00pm: Dinner (Restaurant)
  • 7:15pm: Panorama Bistro (Lounge)
  • Afterwards: Evening Entertainment with our onboard musician, Titi. (Lounge).
  • 9:00-10:00pm: Happy Hour
  • 10:30-11:00pm: Late Night Snack

As it turned out, Avalon Expression was alongside at Rudesheim shortly after noon, and at 1:30pm, we set out on a preview of another excursion that will be offered beginning in 2018 on Avalon’s new Active Discovery on the Rhine river cruises: a hike, gondola ride and wine-tasting.

Avalon Expression, docked in Rudesheim, Germany. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Located at Rhine kilometre marker 526.7, Rudesheim is one of the most famous cities in Germany’s Rheingau region. It’s known for its Drosselgasse – a pedestrian-only street filled with nothing but shops, wine bars and taverns.

I was last here way back in 2013, when we stopped to visit the Christmas Markets that line the streets in December. While the streets are far less chaotic in September, make no mistake about it: Rudesheim is popular with international and local German tourists alike.

The picturesque town center of Rudesheim…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…and the cable-car lift that will take us…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…up the hills. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

All the better that our Rudesheim Hiking & Wine Tasting excursion would be taking us away from the crowded tourist center, up to the famous Niederwald monument perched on the hillside high above the town. And to get there, we’d take a picturesque cable car journey over the local vineyards.

Hopping aboard the Seilbahn Rudesheim at the uppermost reaches of the town, where Christopelstrasse meets the Oberstrasse, we soared high above the local vineyards in open-air cable cars that provided some amazing photographic opportunities.

Originally built as a cable railway in 1884, this was replaced with today’s cable car system in 1954. Throughout its history, its entire purpose has been to transport visitors to the Niederwalddenkmal – the Niederwald Monument, with its statue of Germania that was constructed to memorialize the Franco-German war. Opened in 1883, it served as the basis for modern tourism throughout Rudesheim.

Riding the cable car…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…over the beautiful German countryside. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

From the Germania monument, we were invited to walk down through the local vineyards, where we had a tasting – in the middle of the vineyard, next to freshly-picked grapes – of a 2016 Riesling by Georg Breuer. Our guide was the Breuer family’s Susanne Breuer, who runs Breuer’s Rudesheimer Schloss hotel in town. German through and through, Breuer’s friendly but no-nonsense attitude was absolutely perfect for this tour. “I don’t answer your questions,” she commanded us, “until you pour the wine into your glasses. If there is the wine in your glass, I answer the questions for you.”

The Breuer family couldn’t have been more accommodating as we tasted Riesling right in the fields before continuing on to the family cellar in town, where we dined on local cheese, sausages and sampled the Breuer family wines.

Finally, we walked down through the vineyards of Rudesheim…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…with a local wine tasting…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…among the vines. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Then, there was time for more wine and cheese in a local cellar. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Finally, we ended our tour with something that every visitor to Rudesheim has to have: the famous Rudesheimerkaffe, or Rudesheimer Coffee.

Set within the gardens of Breuer’s Rudesheimer Schloss hotel, our host prepared the largest cup of Rudesheimer coffee I’ve ever seen. Made with locally-produced Asbach Uralt brandy, coffee, shaved chocolate and generous helpings of whipped cream, this boozy concoction really hits the throttle on the afternoon. It’s the perfect drink for days with inclement weather and cooler temperatures; even though the sun had decided to come out by the time we began walking back to the ship, the Rudesheimer Coffee helped warm things up.

At Breuer’s Rudesheimer Schloss Hotel, our hosts…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…whipped up the restorative Rudesheimer Coffee. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

If you’ve never been to Rudesheim before, you might want to take part in Avalon’s included Walking Tour of the old town, which includes a visit to the whimsical enclave that is Siegfried’s Mechanical Instrument Museum.

For those who have been to Rudesheim before and are looking for something more, you can’t go wrong with an afternoon of panoramic cable car rides, wine tastings, and walking down rolling hills and valleys. A great afternoon I won’t soon forget.

Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Our Voyage Report from onboard Avalon Waterways’ Avalon Expression continues tomorrow, with a hike and wine tasting in Miltenberg, Germany.  Follow along with our latest cruise adventures on Twitter: @deckchairblog.

Avalon's Magnificent Europe - Amsterdam to Nuremberg

September 12, 2017Amsterdam, NetherlandsEmbark Avalon Expressionin Amsterdam
September 13Amsterdam, NetherlandsCulinary Walking tour in Amsterdam's Jordaan district; Dutch Painting Class
September 14Cologne, GermanyCologne Off the Beaten Path
September 15Rudesheim, GermanyHiking and Wine Tasting
September 16Miltenberg, GermanyHiking and local flavours excursion
September 17Wurzburg, GermanyHike to Marienberg Fortress
September 18Bamberg, GermanyCity cycling tour & Rauchbier tasting
September 19, 2017Nuremberg, GermanyDisembark Avalon Expression

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