Rendezvous with the Rhine

Sailing down the River Rhine at 8.45am in the morning. Did not expect the wind to be so cold, foaming hard! Only wearing a tshirt with a windbreaker. River breeze indeed. The sights of the Rhine are slowly floating by… It is Germany! An amalgamate of modernity, defined by concrete and steel, together with the more traditional lines of brick houses and shop fronts.

Rewind a little and it’s the Gutenberg Museum. Mainz, the city we are living in, is the birthplace of Johanes Gutenberg, inventor of the printing press! How cool is that?

The water of the Rhine is a murky brownish green. It’s placid depths suggest monsters lurking… Giant river crocodiles, sea serpents, multi-limbed monstrosities, with snapping jaws, sharp beaks, and flesh-rending claws. Oh dear. Any moment one of these beasts could crest the surface and munch on me!

The wind is really crazy and I’m feeling the cold. How do these Germans walk around in a tshirt and shorts? Time to head belowdecks.

The view is superb. Far in the distance there are rolling hills, covered in dark trees. Little hamlets and towns decorate the landscape. Broad swathes of green drawn across the land, sky painted in a million elegant shades, clouds placed deliberately and delicately within. When people build their houses far inland, do they think about how beautiful they look from so far away? The treetops are really far away and they invite you to think about the sheer amount of distance in between you and that arboreal denizen. Who can fathom such immensity and such scale? Nothing man-made can compare to Nature… No painter or architect can compare to the hand of God. Oh my. Pure and simple enjoyment. I wonder what the trees will look like in the deep of autumn! Fiery reds and golds set alight by the rays of the sun, cloaking the land in flame. Or the stark beauty of winter, defiant dark trunks standing against the pure white brilliance of fresh-fallen snow. Wow! The landscape is sublime. Reminds of Tyger! Tyger! Burning bright. What could frame this fearful symmetry?

Question: if the vineyards are on the slopes, how do they harvest the grapes?

Met an American lady on the boat, had a fascinating conversation. Doing her PhD dissertation in 2 weeks, on sustainable agriculture, from Utah, moving to San Francisco. Conversation spans how awesome Germany is, obesity in the US, types of rice, healthcare systems, education and how to get kids to read, military service and conscription and paperwork… Wow! Meeting people is the best.

There are castles everywhere, in different states of repair and disrepair. They are wonderful! And the bike roads are the Roman roads of 2000 years ago, repaved and done up. Oh dear. All that humanity and civilization…

We end up at this place called Braubach. And we end up eating this thing which is made from the liquid fat of frying pork… The lady likens it to PORK BUTTER. It has bacon bits in it. Oh my. Delicious. Eat on bread with salt and butter. It is smooth and buttery and salty, with a touch of crunchiness from the bacon bits. It’s really good but I feel guilty eating it oh dear.

Time for more food blogging. We try this Rhine chilli con carne – beans corn capsicums carrots onions. It comes with a perfectly done pork kebab: tender and flavourful. The turkey salad is wonderful, because fried turkey chunks have never been so moist! The juice is sealed in wonderfully. There’s this fried potato dish, which is thick potato slices fried in bacon and caramelized onions and spring onions. The potato absorbs all the goodness of the bacon and is fried till the edges are crispy. Ooh la la. This is delicious.

Touring the castle now. Its called Marksburg. Truly the defensive emplacements dominate the surrounding terrain… With an elevation of 150m and steep hills the entire surrounding area is a giant killing ground. Whoa.

Finally tried the legendary rhubarb pie from a German bakery. It’s mostly sour, between a prune and a plum, with a note of tangy sweetness. It’s good! I like it. It looks like it might be related to a fig?

In Germany, Rittersport marzipan flavour is 0.89 euro. That equates to instant buy.

And now McDonald’s wifi is allowing me to upload three entries at once.

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