Avalon River Cruise Blog
Avalon Affinity - Romantic Rhine 7 Night River Cruise
Avalon River Cruise - Rudesheim, Germany - October 21, 2009
We are pretty independent travelers and we have decided to break away from the group today. The group is taking the little train up to Sigfrieds mechanical musical instrument museum and going for Rudesheim coffee. We watch everybody else get on the little train looking thing they provide as transportation (pulled by a tractor, driven by a woman with a bumper sticker that says Frau-Powered). Our plan is to learn a little about German wines as we are in the home of the Riesling grape. It is about a half an hour walk around town from the ship. The town is fairly touristy because of the abundance of river boats with restaurants and souvenir stands.
We buy a ticket (6.50e) for the Niederwald Monument and cable car to the top of hills which goes right over all the grape vines growing right outside of town. On top is a large statue of Kaiser Wilhelm and a Bed and Breakfast with a very busy restaurant outside calle Wein Lokal Rebenhaus. We stop for a glass of wine (Trocken or dry) we ask and have a delightful stop on top of the hills looking down the panoramic view back towards town and the riverboat. After we ride the chair back down, we stop at some of the wine tasting booths and stores to get an education in German wine.
Riesling is the primary grape in the Rhine Valley because we are fairly far north in terms of climate. Fall is the time for the new wine which tastes like high test apple cider to us. There is new wine everywhere in big plastic jugs but it is very sweet. Much of it is only three days old (about 3-4% alcohol) and some is six days old (about 5-6% alcohol) but after that, they have to let it filter it to become real white wine with some aging. We buy a couple of bottles for Christmas and stop in a wine garden which is run by a vintner called Weingut Markus Storzel for some additional explanation of the wines in the area. Here we are able to do a tasting and some of the Rieslings had a crisper taste at this place. It seems if it is served very cold, it is better than the tasting booths in the street. He made a great Sect which is German champagne that was most to our liking once the champagne process helped to eat up the extra sugar in the Riesling grape. We bought two bottles of the sect with one to take home and one to drink tomorrow morning as we cruised through the Rhine Gorge.
We headed back to the ship and are going out to dinner tonight as an Anniversary present from my Mom. She is hoping we can find the restaurant with oom-pa-pa music that she went to on a corporate outing a few years ago but we choose a small local restaurant with no music that is filled with vacationing Germans. The restaurant, named Restaurant Ratsstube has a lovely ambiance done in burnt orange colors with a real wood burning stove. This is a family run establishment where Dad and Son are back in the kitchen. We suspect the waitress is sons beautiful wife and it looks like Mom is also in the back doing prep work in the kitchen.
We split an appetizer of Camembert cheese that is breaded and deep fried served with a salad topped with fresh made cranberry sauce and toast points. One entrée is pork chops topped with mushrooms, onions and local bacon in a rosemary sauce with potatoes. We also suspect that the German heritage is why John has such a taste for pork after traveling the country for a few days. The other entrée is Sauerbraten which is beef soaked in vinegar, red wine and some water for three days before braising. The gravy is delicious and served with 2 dumplings that are literally the size of soft balls. This is served with a big plate of home-made applesauce. We have a couple of glasses of wine and two bottled waters but the bill is only 41e. This is truly one of the best meals we have had in a long time. I love locally owned restaurants in Europe because of the quality and seasonality of the food served.
We stop at our favorite weingarten from the afternoon for a glass of sect by the wood burning stove, before going back to the boat. We are stopped again, at the pedestrian gate at the railroad crossing and are surprised to learn the next day that a few hundred trains a day pass by Rudesheim daily on the way from the production facilities and factories of Northern Germany to countries in Southern Europe. Very, very full we now head back to the ship and we see some of the crew heading out as we work our way back Rudesheim looks mostly like day tourist business as the town is pretty completely shut down at 10PM. Sleep comes easily after we walk around a little to digest the huge volume of food.