Day 1: Speyer
Today is Sunday, May 6, 2019, and we will meet in Speyer at 2:00 p.m. for our walking tour to coincide with the Rotary International Convention in Hamburg. We have a total of 27 registrations. We will row with church boats 200 km down the Rhine to Sankt Goar.
Anne and I are on our way to Sankt Goar. For us, the ride starts at the end. In Sankt Goar we drive to the ramp where the boats are pulled ashore. There we have an appointment with Achim, who arrives with the empty boat trailer only a few minutes after us. Car and trailer are parked and secured. Then we too set off for Speyer.
In Sankt Goar I show Anne the boathouse of the water sports club. We have organized luggage transport from hotel to hotel everywhere. But at the end of the tour we no longer need a hotel. The train station is waiting for us there for the return trip or the onward journey. And it is no longer a matter of course that train stations have luggage storage. In St. Goar, the tourist information takes over this task - if it is open. "It's a holiday," they explained to me on the phone. But a call to the chairwoman of the Wassersportverein St. Goar 1924 eV solved this problem. Of course we can store our luggage in the boathouse of the club. Thank you!
We stop briefly in Bacharach at the landing stage of the Bacharacher Ruderverein 1884 eV. In a narrow bend with sandbanks, docking at the pier is not entirely unproblematic. But the water level is high enough to get over the sandbanks.
Around 13:00 we arrive in Speyer. With us come Judith and Paul from Lucerne, Paul from Rosenheim, Maria from Berlin. Already since yesterday Ionella and Valer as well as Liana and Sorin from the Rotary Club Blaj are in Speyer.
The welcome meeting is moved to the terrace because of the good weather. After the organizational instructions, the IFoRR shirts ordered for the occasion are handed out to all participants present. Before Hans-Jürgen Große from the RC Speyer brings us to the cathedral, let's take a quick count: We will row tomorrow with 21 people plus 3 non-rowers makes 24. Paul from Neuss will come tonight. Wolfgang and Christoph from Mainz will come tomorrow morning. Fits!
In front of the cathedral we meet 3 members of the RC Speyer. The incoming president Ute Bahrs was my contact person. As host, the cathedral priest Bender welcomes us. The guided tour is taken over by friend Münchbach, a trained lawyer with an almost inexhaustible knowledge about Speyer and its history.
We visit the cathedral. Through the city we then go to the Judenbad. And on the way to the beer garden of the Domhof brewery, we pass the magnificent baroque Dreifaltigkeitskirche (Holy Trinity Church), which was also built in Frankfurt and where Goethe was baptized.
The end of the day will take place together with our friends from Speyr in the Domhof. The way back to the hotel leads us past the Museum of Technology. The hustle and bustle of the day has given way to an illuminated silence.
Day 2: From Speyer to Worms
Monday 9:00 am: Departure to the new boathouse of the Speyr rowing community. Yesterday morning Heidi and Achim have already launched the Neuss boat Bolly. With the support of Norbert Herbel, Charlie is also in the water in no time. The rowers are distributed to the boats. We cast off!
Before we turn into the main stream of the Rhine, we do some maneuvers in the Altrheinarm.
On time we reach the landing stage of the rowing club Ludwigshafen at noon, where Harald as representative of the rotarian rowing team Rhine-Neckar with his wife Gabriele is waiting for us. The restaurant in the boathouse is closed today, but the owner has prepared a warm meal for us. Frugally we drink the provided water. Don't they have wine here? Yes, they do. And it tasted good, too.
We continue in the direction of Worms. In the raft harbor we look for the jetty of the 1st Wormser Schwimmclub Poseidon. The shuttle bus that is to take us to the hotel is ready. In the lobby of the Parkhotel Prinz Carl, friend Heigl of the RC Worms-Nibelungen is already waiting to guide us through the city. The small group of English-speaking rowers will be taken over by friend Bentz from the same club.
At the cathedral the stands for the Nibelungen Festival are being set up. The Jewish cemetery is idyllic with its many old graves. Since 1868 there is the Luther Monument in memory of the Diet of Worms in 1521, where Luther defended his theses. A downpour ended the tour.
In the evening we meet with Worms Rotarians at the winery of Andreas Schreiber, president of the Rotary Club Worms-Nibelungen. The weather has calmed down, but Andreas has taken the precaution of having the house covered. We enjoy the conversations with numerous Rotarians from both Worms clubs and the Rotaract Club Worms. We drink excellent wine with good food. And we are thrilled by the Indian inbound, who eagerly absorbs everything worth knowing about wine in theory and practice and passes it on to us!
Day 3 from Worms to Mainz
We cast off and listen (to) Paul's commands. Those who were not fully awake after the short night, are now. Hans-Jürgen wanted to row only one day. Wolfgang from RC Simmern is now in the boat for him.
We have the longest stage ahead of us. 35 km to lunch in Steckler's restaurant at the lido of Oppenheim and then another 19 km to Mainz. In Oppenheim we pull the boats out of the water onto the beach and marvel at the tranquility and idyllic location. Oppenheim, in the Middle Ages a free imperial city on the Rhine, is far away. The Rhine has sought another bed.
For dinner is set in the house, here it has rained. Incomprehensible, because we did not get a drop of water on the Rhine.
At 14:30 o'clock it goes on. Past Nierstein, the Rhine island Langenau. The weather remains dry, but a headwind comes up that makes the last 7 kilometers hard work.
Suddenly the fight against the waves stops when we reach the Mainzer Winterhafen and row to the pier at the boathouse of the Mainzer Ruderverein, which the landlord of the boathouse restaurant Frank Buchholz has made available to us. We have a "recovery sip" before heading to the nearby Favorite Hotel in Stadtpark.
For dinner we meet with Mainz Rotarians at the Weinstube Bacchus in one of the oldest half-timbered houses in Mainz's old town.
Day 4: From Mainz to Rüdesheim
The next day exceptionally does not start with rowing. The morning is dedicated to sightseeing in the city of Mainz.
We meet our city guide in front of St. Stephen's Church. The church windows were designed by Chagall. Their blue coloring bathes the interior of the church in a peculiar atmosphere. We walk down to Schillerplatz with its Fastnachtsbrunnen fountain and continue towards the cathedral. Every time we look at a pedestrian traffic light, we see a Mainzelmännchen. And why are some street signs blue and others red?
After visiting the cathedral, we walk back towards the boathouse. We pass the maritime museum and take another look at the Roman ships found in 2009.
At the boathouse a feudal picnic awaits us, prepared by Anne and Gudrun and set up with the help of Wolfgang from Simmern in Hunsrück. We look out over the Rhine and the mouth of the Main River opposite.
With a little delay we are back in our boats, leave the protective harbor and row past the Mainz cityscape and Biebrich Castle into the Rheingau with its beautiful wine villages. In the Rüdesheim marina, the two shuttle buses and Anne and Gudrun are already waiting to take us to the hotel. Relaxing drink, showers, changing clothes and we are ready for the evening program.
We have arranged to meet our friends from RC Bingen on the other side of the Rhine. It is too late for the passenger ferry; we have to go to the car ferry. So, besides a boat ride without any effort of our own, we have a long walk behind us when we arrive at the "Vinothek" and are welcomed by the president of the club Klaus Becker.
Good wines, good food and good conversation. And a glance at the clock: the ferry only runs until midnight!
Day 5: From Rüdesheim to St. Goar
Today we row through the World Heritage Site of the Middle Rhine. The vacant seats on board have been filled by Simone and Hans-Hermann. We see the Niederwald Monument above Rüdesheim. The mountains are getting very close to the river. It seems that on every mountain there is a castle: Ruin Ehrenfels, Castle Rheinstein, Castle Reichenstein, Castle Sooneck, the Heimburg, Ruin Nollig and Ruin Fürstenberg. And in the river we pass the Mäuseturm behind the mouth of the Nahe.
When Stahleck Castle comes into view, we know that Bacharach is not far away. The water is so high that the sandbanks are no problem.
On land we are met by Dieter Römheld, a member of RC Mainz, and his wife Andy, who have descended from their second home, even higher than Stahleck Castle, to show us the old town of Bacharach.
We ordered lunch from Josch, who runs his restaurant in the RV Bacharach boathouse. Everything is made fresh and tastes excellent to those who have enjoyed the food. Our eyes wander to the clock. The train is waiting in St. Goar! Wrong: The train is not waiting! Good, if you have not planned too tightly.
In St. Goar, Anne is already standing at the jetty of the water sports club. Bolly docks, Remmer and Paul disembark, can change in the boathouse and catch their train to Emden or Rosenheim.
In the meantime we have arrived at the ramp in St. Goar-Felten. We pull the boats onto the trailers.
Klaus and Vera drive with Achim's car and boat Bolly to Neuss. Michael and Christiane take the opportunity and drive along.
Simone, Walter, Harald and Christoph drive with Daniel, who brings the boat Charly to Mainz.
Wolfgang and Hans-Hermann are almost home.
We return to the boathouse, change clothes and get our luggage. The end of a boat trip.
So only 13 people are sitting in Peter's Brauhaus in the old town of Cologne in the evening: Achim and Heidi, Paul and Anne from Neuss; Valer and Ionella, Sorin and Liana from Blaj; Judith and Paul from Zurich; Maria from Berlin; Hartmut and Anne from Mainz.
And before we go on to the RI Convention in Hamburg the next day, we see a Gothic cathedral after all the more or less Romanesque cathedral buildings. Even the man from Mainz has to say: The people from Cologne had a hard time with their young cathedral, but nevertheless: Not bad!
After this experience, we are already thinking about next year. With church boats on Lake Chiemsee?