• msacquaah

Hitchhiking and Fireworks: Welcome to Rudesheim, Germany - Ever heard of it?!


After being in Freiburg for two weeks, and with July 4 approaching I thought it would be great to see some fireworks. After doing a quick search online, I found a firework event just a train ride away. Trains are life in Europe, so the four to five hour train ride from Freiburg to Rudesheim seemed like a journey worth taking for a firework show and to explore a new city in Germany. Further, it was the 40th anniversary of the Rhine in Flames fireworks extravaganza. Say no more: Rudesheim, here I come!

To start, my travel partner and I missed our first train from Freiburg to Rudesheim, but thankfully the train conductor didn’t give us a hard time (after noticing we were on a later train) and we were able to make it in time for our plans later that evening (more about that below). Once in Rudesheim, we left the train station and began to walk in the general direction of our hotel (we could walk the short distance, right? WRONG!). Luckily, in passing I met an American, Tia, who informed us that while the hotel was a 10-minute drive away, the uphill (and around many corners) walk would take about an hour (uuuummm, nokay). Needless to say, we flagged the first available taxi to our hotel.

When we arrived at the hotel, it looked completely deserted (no lights, no people, no crickets, no signs of life anywhere! Oh boy.). Taking it upon ourselves to wander (more like wonder) around, we finally ran into the man…the myth…Thilo. Do you know of anyone who does it all, as in concierge, lead hotel clerk, chef, chauffeur?? If so, that's Thilo. With Thilo's help, we were able to check into our room and get our luggage down and then up stairs (read: NO elevator) to our room.

One of the hotel clerks (Thilo was busy being a chef) informed us that the very best place to view the fireworks was the Niederwald Monument. Once again, we had the bright idea of walking...there. After approximately 10.292929 (repeating...) minutes of walking uphill (insert: hiking), we hitched a ride with a pizza delivery guy (talk about adventure!) who dropped us off at our destination with the admonishment that there is no way we could or should walk there from our hotel (insert: forest, trees, windy roads and nearly no sidewalks).

Thanks to the “pizza guy” we arrived at Niederwald with time to explore before the firework show. Niederwald has some of the most striking views of the Rhine River in Rudesheim. To celebrate the Rhine in Flames, there was live entertainment covering everyone from Tina Turner and Prince to Abba (I just had to include that, being named Aba, with one B!...whew...I need closure), freshly grilled food and PLENTY of wine from which to choose. Surrounding the monument were locals and tourists alike excited to experience the Rhine in Flames fireworks celebration. I happened upon open seats at a table occupied by two Germans from Frankfurt -- Nicole and Melanie, who through great conversation, German-language lessons and lots of laughs, helped us get through the cold and rainy night and made it feel so worth the effort.

During our final day in Rudesheim, my travel partner and I arranged a taxi (no more of that walking uuuuphill business) to Niederwald and took the cable car (€ 5.50 one-way per person) to a busy area of the town filled with rows upon rows of novelty shops, restaurants and other local businesses. We made time to visit many of the shops and went on a tour at Siegfried's Mechanical Music Cabinet (€ 7.50 per person including English speaking tour guide), one of Rudesheim's main attractions (outstanding engineering but meh overall). The day was made complete with a walk alongside the Rhine River.

Although I wouldn't necessarily rush back to Rudesheim, it is a great place to stop through and spend a couple of days if you're journeying through Germany (and the food wasn't bad either!). If you can catch the Rhine in Flames there, that's an even greater plus! The views from Niederwald are truly picturesque. Moreover, word on the street is that Rudesheim is the "best winegrowing region on the Rhine" and has been dubbed by "many experts, [as] the most important winegrowing area in the world." I can attest to the many vineyards and wine options from my short visit, so if you're a wine person Rudesheim might be a dream destination for you!

Thinking about visiting Rudesheim? Let me know, and I'll be happy to provide more pointers and tips!

Peace, love and see yaa soon!

P.S. You already know who chauffeured us to our departure train...none other than Mr. Do It All, Thilo...ha.

 “Create your own world within this world. The outside cannot penetrate the inside unless you/I allow it. Be strong and remain fortified. You are covered. I am covered. 

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