Time Patrol: Germany 1980

1980. A while ago. We were living in Paris then. Decided to go Germany and visit friends. Took the train to… Mainz, maybe… or Koblenz? Honestly I can’t remember. From there we traveled by boat on the Rhine. To the North. Stayed in cute little towns along the river. I would say it is probably one the best ways to discover that part of Germany for the first time.

Many a castle dotted the way. Schloß so-and-so, “destroyed by the French in 16-something”. Castle X, “destroyed by the French in” …. History in Europe is unavoidable… and also short of memory. One tends to remember only WWII (on the French side), when the fact is, Louis the 14th ravaged the Rhine and the Palatinat in the 1600’s. Obviously the string of castles along the Rhine were mostly destroyed… Then rebuilt! Until the next war.

The Rhine was high in the summer of 1980. Floods are common in Europe. In Germany, in France, on the Danube too… River cities are somewhat accustomed to it.

A few feet higher, that house and church would have been in trouble.

Vineyards everywhere on the banks of the Rhine. Delicious wine in the cellars. See how the vines are planted? Vertically. Possibly for the rain to slide down the hill?

A flooded Schloß, isolated in the river. That particular castle must have been very difficult to take.

An older view of the castle. Not mine. Came from a guide. See how the waters have receded? And the brown colour, which was probably the original. Look at the vineyards climbing the hills. People have been making wine there for 1500 years. Plus change.

Back to 1980. From our little boat on the river. It’s called the Pfalzgrafenstein castle. Started as a toll in the 1300’s. One had to pay taxes to transport merchandise on the river. Though most Rhine castles were destroyed at one time or another, the “Pfalz” (try pronouncing that without stuttering) was never conquered or destroyed.

“Haben sie einer zimmer frei? Mit früstuck, bitte?” “Ja, ja! Zwei personen?”. Do you have a room with breakfast?

The Fuchs (Pronounce Fux = Fox) “garni” was a charming “bed and breakfast” in Andernach, a cute little town along the Rhine. The little fox seems to have read La Fontaine, climbing to eat some grapes…

The “garni” was complete with a wrought iron door. Früstuck awaited us the next morning with hard-boiled eggs covered with a knit wool cap to keep them warm.

Then, after breakfast, you can walk the old streets. Not sure whether this was Andernach or Bacharach. In the second half of the 80’s I traveled extensively in Germany (and Europe) for international projects. I was always shocked at how “modern” big German cities looked. Most were destroyed by Allied bombings in WWII. Not the little towns. This house was built in 1368… Still there… despite our 2,000 years of European civil war.

Love the details on the façade.

“AltdeutscheWeinstube”, under the white swan, it would mean old German Wine Tavern. At the corner of Liebfrauenplatz, which if I’m not mistaken, would mean the “Loved woman square”?

To end this post, old Gutenberg (c.1400-1468), in Mainz. He basically made our Western civilization possible, when he invented the modern print. No massive book publishing without him. Without books, Descartes, Spinoza, Voltaire, Diderot, Locke, Hegel et al. would not have received the massive diffusion they did and their ideas would not have reached millions.

I hope my German friends will forgive my faulty German. Thank you all for flying Equinoxio Time-Space shuttle. Stay safe. It ain’t over yet. 🙏🏻😷

81 thoughts on “Time Patrol: Germany 1980

  1. Nostalgia!!!! We drove along the Mosel once, smaller than the Rhine, but otherwise quite similar. I can imagine that it is easier to see all the castles from the water. On the road, one can see the castles on the other side of the river. On the same side, they were usually hidden from view.

    I read somewhere that most wines are grown on hillsides, because that way all the plants get the same amount of sun for most of the day, not shadowing each other. Sounded plausible to me.

    In German, everything with “Liebfrau….” has to do with the virgin Mary, and I think the English equivalent would be “Our Lady …” So the German wine called “Liebfraumilch” would be “Our Lady’s milk”.

    Historical memory is very selective I find … 😉

    Thank you for this trip to the past!

    • Bitte schön. Mosel on the French side right now is in a bad situation virus-wise. never been there.
      In France there are hills with vines all around. The wine tastes different from one side to the other. same grape, same earth, just different sun exposure.
      I didn’t know that. Thank you. Liebfraumilch is well know worldwide, I didn’t realize it was related with Mary… One learns all the time. (I really do need to do something about my German. Can’t stay in the middle of the road like that. I need to spend a little while in Germany. In the summer. Not the winter. ❄️

  2. Mooi Brian! So the Loreley didn’t sink your Rheinfartschiff? 🙂 I got pictures like yours on my hard drive. Went from Koblenz to Oberwesel (we camped near the Rhine) and afer that climed one of those grapevines. They are steep! In the Netherlands Rhine wine doesn’t have a very good name, to sweet, to mediocre. But in the area itseIf I tasted some mighty fine rhine wine (as, for that matter, along the river Moselle (or Mosel). Another great Time Patrol. Tot ziens!

    • Lorelei was on holiday in Spain when we went. yes they have good wine. I actually didn’t know there was wine in Holland. The weather doesn’t seem too good for wine. better for beer. 🍻
      So we have indeed put our feet in the same steps.
      Stay safe.

      • Well, in the Netherlands actually some wine is produced, but in small amounts. I was referring to German Wine sold here in the stores. And yes, beer! After years of only a few big breweries that all made the same uninspiring ale like beer we now have plenty of smaller breweries making exellent beers, matching even those made in Belgium, the Kingdom of European beer making. So: yay!

      • Yes, it’s a global phenomenon about beer. I’ve had delicious craft beers all the way to Asia. All the better for the consumer. Tot ziens.

  3. Fantastic recollection of your German meanderings, Brian. What a special time you had in German and enjoyed all that wine from the ancient vines. The age of these villages stagger me. They were thriving at a time centuries before my own country was colonised and even present on a map. Such history! Those half timbered buildings are a delight to see.

    • Old Europe is fascinating in that respect. People have lived in the very same spot for 4,000 or 6,000 years. We had a house in Normandy that was 2 centuries old. Stone walls 2 or 3 ft wide. The church of the little village was 14th century. And the roads? Had been there for centuries.
      All well?

      • Amazing place to live! Lucky you! An amazing experience. All well here, Brian including the ups and downs of life of course. I like that you are showing us your travels as we do not know what the future holds travel wise. Was there any disadvantages to life in these villages that were a time warp into the past?

      • Glad to share. I have found myself unconsciously looking back at previous travel material.
        Disadvantages? Not that I recall. All the modern facilities of that time. Less big city hassle.

    • Castle is still there. Thing is, in the summer, the Rhine as many other European rivers gets a lot water from the melting snows in the Alps. So the water rises. Then goes back down.

  4. There'[s something about a castle that captures my interest. I’m assuming the water level is related to mountain thaw? Now if you can’t remember which town by train, then it must have been one hell of a party 🙂

  5. These are like old postcards, the nostalgia. What a wonderful collection. Whenever I see your images, I want to go to that place, immediately. A long time since I’ve been in Germany. Although we English are a comparatively scruffy and disorganised bunch, and despite modern history, there is a certain affinity between Germanic peoples.

    • Well, those pix are 40 years old. Postcards indeed.
      I ought to set up a travel agency. Virtual. 😉 Travelling along the Rhine is very nice. Hope you can do it some day. The small cities are delightful.
      Scruffy?🤣 Probably the Angle heritage. You were invaded by the Saxons quite a bit if I recall. There are common grounds. All well?

      • A virtual travel agency sounds like a good idea in the current context. Visited Germany a few times, particularly when living in North Bohemia (on the Elbe River), handy for eastern Germany and Berlin, but never in a slow boat up the Rhine. It’s on the list!

      • Had to check. Bohemia sounded Czech to me…
        It’s a good list. Thise were small boats then. I hope they haven’t put humongous ships now.

  6. I didn’t know there were so many castles on the Rhine. In fact, I didn’t know there were that many castles in Germany. I learned a little German in high school. I thought I had forgotten it. However, reading your commentaries, I was about the read and understand what you had written.

    • My German is way below what I would wish… Maybe one day. I did make one mistake, pointed out by a German friend. “Liebfrau” refers to the Virgin Mary.
      Now castles? For defence. The French were on the other side of the river. 😉

  7. Man, I thought I traveled smh lol!!! And my friends say I go everywhere but if I tell and show them the places you went, they would really be amazed and I would finally be out the picture lol…

  8. A very nice wander down memory lane, Brian, and some good ideas for exploring before we leave Germany – should we ever be allowed to travel again. History is definitely unavoidable in Europe, but the thing that strikes me most is that so much of it survived the endless wars. Remarkable.

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