As a tourist, with limited time, I signed up for a tour bus trip. The choice was between a City Tour of Frankfurt lasting two hours or a boat trip along the Rhine River. As I had already seen some of the city, I opted for the river cruise. Now I am not normally a “group” sort of person. Normally preferring to strike out on my own, I had my doubts that I’d enjoy myself. But, when you’re on your own and have only an afternoon and evening, what else can you do?
And so, a van picked me up at my hotel around 2:30pm. At this point it seemed I was their only customer. We headed downtown to the tour company’s office where I was delighted to find at least thirty other people waiting. Not a solo expedition, after all.
It was at least an hour’s drive to the Rhine along the autobahn. The highway looked much like any you would see in Canada or the US, except for one thing. In the far left lane, cars shot past at speeds which would certainly be ticketed in my country, Canada, or in the States. I believe some people actually go to Germany to buy a Mercedes specifically for the purpose of trying it out on the autobahn. But the driving seemed entirely orderly—no darting in and out or weaving, which is not uncommon in my country.
The map below shows the route first from Frankfurt to Rudesheim [red dot] by bus and then back to Mainz by river boat.
After about an hour and a half, we got onto the cruise boat and traveled along the river for an hour, giving me a chance to try out my new digital camera. Personally, I have always preferred film cameras mainly because, I think you get so much more texture and subtlety with film. To me, it’s the difference between a video recording and a feature film. But, no doubt, a small digital camera is a great recording device. The three photos were shot showing the a medieval castle, a small town and the restaurant where we ate later on.
I should mention, of course that this boat tour took us straight into the heart of a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Lorelei Valley of unparalleled beauty. Such a site—which can be a place or monument or building—is designated by the United Nations as having special cultural or physical significance. Preservation of that site is of prime importance.
When I am traveling, I like to people watch because I am always on the look-out for ways of describing characters. I’m no good at surreptitiously taking photos of people and so, I rely upon writing down quick word-sketches of people. You never know when such a character might want to pop up on the manuscript page.
The tour ended up back near Mainz at a restaurant for dinner. Interestingly enough, two other tour members were from the book fair—both publishers, one from Beirut, Lebanon and the other from Melbourne Australia. Good conversation all round! But the evening ended on a soft/hard sell. We were treated to a wine-tasting with pressure to buy. But I don’t think there were any “takers”. After all, who wants to carry bottles of wine all the way home?