Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Rhine River

After four nights in the Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, we are now in Paris where we have an internet connection again. Before I tell you about Paris I will tell you abour our four days in Germany. In some ways it is not surprising that we had no internet connection in Germany. We found the area where we were, at least, to be more of a rural area without all the connections you might find in other places. In that sense it reminded me of Indiana. We panicked at one point because Castle Liebenstein where we stayed one night did not accept credit or debit cards. So we gave them all our cash and then found it very difficult, actually impossible, to find a restaurant that did accept our cards. The worse point was when we bought some things at a drugstore, including snacks, only to discover that they did not accept our particular credit card. They did accept one that looked a lot like it but was actually different. We were wondering if we could eat and sleep. But fortunately the next castle where we stayed, Burg Stahleck, did accept our card.
We rode our bikes for five days, picking them up in Mainz on Thursday and then taking the train to Koblenz, from where we rode to Schloss Liebenstein. Unfortunately we got lost. I assumed that as long as we had a river on our right, we were on the right track. Unfortunately there is another river in that area, the Lahn River, and we ended up going down it. It was getting late by the time we figured this out and fortunately we could again take a train to get to our destination. Schloss Liebenstein is the castle on the right of the first picture, and it part of the "enemy brothers" with Schloss Sterrenburg on the left.
Jacob and Isaiah loved being in the castle. Jacob called the gift shop paradise. He was so excited that he couldn't stay out of there.
While the first photo is of the castle from the Rhine, the second is of the Rhine from the castle. We had a beautiful view of the river and fortunately were able to take a taxi up to the bluff overlooking the river.
While these first couple of days in Germany were focused on the beauty of the Rhine and experiencing its many castles, we also have an Amish Mennonite reason to be here as well. The Rhine River was the passageway for Amish and Mennonites out of Switzerland and into other parts of the world, whether it was first of all Alsace, France, not so far away, or a little farther down the river into the Palatinate, Germany, or down to the end of the river at Rotterdam, Holland, where they could depend on their siblings in the faith, the Dutch Mennonites, to help them settle in Holland, which a few did, or to find a way to America, which is what most did. So the ancestors of most Mennonites of Swiss background passed through here at some point.

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