Saturday, February 1, 2014

New Car, Old Castles

Kristin seems to be most excited about finally getting Internet at our apartment.  But there was other excitement this weekend.  After a wait even longer than the wait for Internet, we have our new car.  And it is beautiful.  We both love the blue color, which is really different from all the black, white and gray cars in Germany.  When we arrived at the dealership the new x3 was decked out with a big red bow.  They told Matt he couldn't keep the bow.

After a lesson on all the features of our new car, and a quick photo op, we were on our way to exploring the Rhine River Valley. Unfortunately for Matt, BMW recommends you keep the car below 100 mph for the first 2,000 miles.  So no Autobaun speeds once we picked up the new car.

We took the new car and headed up to Koblenz, which is the northern end of the "pretty" part of the Rhine River Valley.  

We followed the road marked 42 from Koblenz all the way down to Mainz (which is where we had picked up the new car).  We're excited to do this trip again in the summer, since they have hop-on, hop-off boats for tourists to check out all of the castles along the way at a nice, leisurely pace.

We started at Ehrenbreistein Castle, which had a cool looking chairlift and cable car to get to the top.  It is now a youth hostel, so we decided not to visit.

We got great view of Lahneck Castle (Burg Lahneck) as we crossed a river valley.

We stretched our legs at Marksburg Castle, the only remaining medieval castle left along the Rhine.  The English tours are only a few times a day during high season, so we only got a chance to view the exterior.  Our guidebook says it has one of the best medieval interiors in all of Germany.  We're excited to go back and check it out.

There were a bunch of cute little towns along the way, with lots of restaurants and hotels nestled along the river banks.

Towards the end of our drive, we reached the quintessential view along the Rhine:  Pfalz Castle.  Pfalz Castle is build on an island in the river and was used to extract tolls from passing boats (i.e., made the town around it very rich).  It was a striking view at sunset.

Now that we have the car, we are excited to explore the rest of Europe.  Next weekend we are planning our first non-German adventure:  skiing in the Austrian Alps.  Can't wait!

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