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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Great Journey to Europe – Part VIII

Before you know it, we have approached the Loreley (or Lorelei) bend in the River Rhine. The Loreley (soaring 120 feet above the river on the eastern bank) marks the narrowest part of the Rhine between Switzerland, the North Sea and the most famous feature of the Rhine Gorge and a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Loreley represents the name given to the “feminine water spirit” responsible for the many “accidents” along this stretch of the river.

Our daily program includes the poem by Heinrich Heine that details the siren sitting above combing her golden locks and luring the sailors to their death.

The Loreley
By Heinrich Heine

I do not know what haunts me,
What saddened my mind all day;
An age-old tale confounds me,
A spell I cannot allay.
The air is cool and in twilight
The Rhine’s dark waters flow;
The peak of the mountains in highlight
Reflects the evening glow.
There sits a lovely maiden
Above so wondrous fair,
With shining jewels laden,
She combs her golden hair.

It falls through her comb in a shower,
And over the valley rings
A song of mysterious power
That lovely maiden sings.
The boatman in his small skiff is
Seized by a turbulent love,
No longer he marks where the cliff is,
He looks to the mountain above.
I think the waves must fling him
Against the reefs nearby,
And that did with her singing
                the lovely Loreley.

The locals even have a recording playing along the riverbanks that simulates the singing of a siren. Without the banter of our tour guide Gabriel’s commentary, it is just a narrow spot in the river with a tale attached. Actually, Gabriel described the sites all through the Rhine Gorge, describing the history of each castle and village we passed.

 The Loreley Bend (south side)

 The Loreley Bend (north side)
Castles and more castles; one right after another.

Just as nice and quaint as the castles are the villages and towns along the Rhine.

 Altstadt & Burg Katz
 Loreleystadt – St Goarshausen

 Rhine River Ferry running between east & west banks
 Bad Saliz

Although the weather on this portion of the trip was somewhat less than desirable, there was plenty of time to be up on the sun deck watching the view pass by.

I realize there is not much commentary today, but the views along the Rhine were fantastic and stand on their own. Knowing that I said yesterday we would be in Koblenz next, I didn’t quite make it. Do not despair, we will get there soon.

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