06 October 1999 - Eltville, Kiedrich 07 October 1999 - Darmstadt 08 October 1999 - Mainz 12 October 1999 - Wiesbaden 14 October 1999 - Rüdesheim
We didn't actually work every day. There were days that they needed to press the grapes we had picked, and since the weather was good they wanted to wait as long as possible. We wound up working 9 out of 18 days. The other days we went exploring the area.
The first day off we took a daylong walk through the vineyards from town to town (each with a 1000 year old church) and discovered a 1300 year old castle which robbers had used to raid the towns from. It is so cool that you can walk through these little villages, you are in a town, churches, stores, houses, ATMS, and then you pass a wall or a road or just an imaginary line and you were in vineyards! And then you can walk for 20 minutes and come to the next town! (We got lost at one point because the Autobahn was not on our extremely accurate topo map. Michael said that was because the people didn't want the Autobahn to be built and they were so annoyed about it that they just didn't put it on the map!)
We spent a day exploring the town we were in, Eltville, and its two or three castles, markets and pedestrian streets. It was a very pleasant little town with walking along the River Rhein and lots of wine (of course).
Another day we explored Wiesbaden (a town with baths... but we didn't go, unfortunately) and another day Mainz... I expected Mainz to be very interesting, but it wasn't... mostly because the center was damaged very heavily during the war... Wiesbaden was a wonderful town, partially because the Americans spared it because they wanted it for a base! In all the places we went to we were looking for wool pants for me, but found nothing!
We had a couple of those terrible travel days where nothing goes right, missing trains, paying too much for tickets, wandering around hungry... one day we went to the little town of Ruedesheim... seemed like a good idea, but it was tourist hell... disneyland of the Rheingau! We took the ferry across the river to Bingen which was nice, but rushed back only to find that the cable car over the vineyards was closed early! Arrrgg.
On another of our days off we went to Darmstadt. My great great great grandfather Joseph Michael Host Jr. emigrated from Darmstadt to Wisconsin. We did some research at the city archives and explored the town. It is a wonderful city, with a large university. We sat by the woog (swimming lake) and walked to the Russian Orthodox church. Nicholas II the last Czar of Russia married a princess from Darmstadt and so they built a church for when he visited. It is gorgeous, extremely elaborate. We also learned in this town that a great, cheap snack in Germany is to buy a liter of organic milk!!!
There were crosses and other monuments throughout the vineyards, because,
as Michael said, "wine makers are very superstitious!" So when ever
there is a good year, they erect a monument.
© Copyright Mark Canizaro 2000
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