Kyra's Excellent Adventure, Part 2: Fun with Navi, or, Wait, where are we? (see Part 1 here)
After Mainz, we left to go to our hotel a ways down the Rhine River, where we would leave from the next morning to go to Koblenz to board a boat for a cruise up the Rhine. Two things to know as I write about our adventures:
1 - We rented two mini vans. One would carry up to five passengers plus most of the luggage. This was the lead car, with my dad as main driver and navigator, taking turns with whoever else wanted to drive. The other would hold up to seven passengers plus whatever odds and ends of luggage didn't fit in the lead car. This eventually became known as the party van. My brother-in-law, my husband, and my youngest brother and his wife took turns driving this car, with volunteer navigators.
2 - Our navigation went by maps, GPS navi, road signs, and my dad's memory of routes he'd driven several times before. There were a number of times when these four things did not agree with each other nor did they match up with what was actually going on with the streets. For one thing, there was road construction EVERYWHERE.
So, when we were ready to move on from Mainz, my parents went with J&Y in the lead car to pick up J&Y's luggage from the train station (remember, J&Y had come in the night before from Australia and took a train from Frankfurt to Mainz) while the rest of us, me and my husband, my sister and her husband (B&M), and my youngest brother and his wife (R&C) hit the road, my brother-in-law at the wheel. The fun started with trying to follow directions to the bridge we were supposed to use to get to the other side of the Rhine. We got to it only to find a mess of construction and the road closed. Well, find another bridge! Then as we drove past, we saw that actually only half the bridge was closed and you could get onto it if you found the secret entrance. So, following the GPS, we found a circuitous route back around (including the directions "turn left then immediately turn right", that immediate right turn being across three lanes of heavy traffic. My b-i-l, being an intrepid sort, went for it and made it).
So we're across the bridge and on the right-hand side of the river, where we're supposed to be. We put the name of the hotel into the GPS and went on our merry way, spotting castles high over the river right and left. Seriously, it was like driving through a history book. Much old. Very castles. So history.
After we'd been driving a while, the GPS said "Turn left." Well, we can't turn left; there's a river there. But as we drove past, someone in the car realized there's a ferry ramp there, as well. And on the other side of the river is a town with what looks like our hotel. So the GPS had it right! Though we couldn't figure out why we were supposed to take that bridge in Mainz to get to this side of the river when our hotel was on the other side. (Remember, at this point, we're very sleep-deprived.) We turned into the ferry parking lot and when the ferry came back across the river a few minutes later, we drove on and paid our fee, and set sail towards our hotel.
When we got there, the desk clerk couldn't find our reservations. Then she said, "Oh, there's the Hotel With Almost Identical Name on the other side of the river, about 10 km farther down. That must be what you're looking for!" She helpfully wrote down the Almost Identical Name of the other hotel and its address, and we left and got onto the ferry again. By now, we were all going on 30+ hours of no sleep, so this seemed like the most hilarious thing ever. I'm sure the ferry pilot thought we were all losing our minds.
Anyway, back on the right side of the river, we did eventually make it to our hotel, where Mom and Dad and J&Y were waiting for us. Considering how sleep-deprived we all were, it's kind of surprising we didn't end up in France or somewhere.
After a good night's sleep, we loaded up the luggage in the cars and drove to Koblenz. Due to a combination of factors, we got an impromptu scenic tour of Koblenz while looking for the place to get on the boat. We could see the boat on the river, but there didn't appear to be any way to get to it by car. Finally we just stopped on the street and walked over to the ticket booth. The eight of us kids and spouses would be going on the river cruise, while Mom and Dad drove the cars down to the town where we would disembark. I'll admit that after our adventures so far, I felt a little trepidation about letting my 80-year-old parents drive off by themselves, with all our luggage, to find their way to the next town on our itinerary. But with the tickets bought and paid for, there was nothing to do for it but wave goodbye and board the boat.
It was kind of cold and rainy that day, not very good weather for riding up on the sun deck, though some of the more hardcore members of our group spent a good amount of time up there anyway because that was where you could take better pictures. The inside of the boat was very comfortable, nice tables and chairs and full restaurant service and big picture windows. So we cruised in style and comfort, watching the cliffs and castles and vineyards and quaint little towns slowly drift past, getting caught up with each other, and occasionally venturing out into the elements to take pictures. A fine, relaxing time.
After 6 hours, we disembarked at Bingen and found Mom and Dad waiting for us. They made it without any problems, even stopping to do their own sightseeing along the way.
After that, we went to Worms (the W is pronounced V, of course), which has another awesome old cathedral. Our hotel, notable for the very cheerful and helpful proprietress, was conveniently located almost right next door, so we were able to rest up and then go look at the cathedral at our leisure.
It was the same as at Mainz. I stepped into the cathdral and the size, the sense of age and grandeur, took my breath away.
Next: A day of nostalgia.
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