Mission Statement

This blog journals my quest of art, whether it is a piece of work that is inherent in nature or one created by artists known or unknown or that I created myself. During this search, I have come to appreciate the magnificence and generosity of God who in his infinite wisdom surrounded us with exquisiteness everyday...everywhere and inspired our human spirit to create beauty that feeds our bodies and souls. Come join me on my journey to find art through my travels and my own creative endeavors. Maraming salamat.

All rights to all posts and contents on this blog, including photos and artwork are reserved by jojo sabalvaro tan.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Lure of the Loreley

Typical Scene Along the Rhine River

Recently, we embarked on a self-driving tour of Germany arranged for us by Umfulana, a custom travel consulting company in Germany. Umfulana took care of  accommodations, which were top rate, and suggested options for routes and stops along the way. Our main goal was to travel to the more out of the way, less touristy areas of Germany and stay at a couple of medieval German castles. Our first stop was Cologne (Koln) and the plan was to drive south along the Rhine on the so-called Romantic Road to Rothenburg ob der Tauber and then follow the Castle Road to Heidelberg. Driving on one of Germany's infamous autobahns and watching cars whizzing by a dizzying speeds, we decided to continue on more local roads by diverting our direction towards the town of Boppard. Here we were able to drive at a more leisurely pace along farmlands, vineyards and hills along the Rhine.

The beauty of having your own car when travelling is that you can stop anywhere and anytime you want. The bad part is that no matter how great your directions  are, you do occasionally make the wrong turn and end up driving in circles and come close to throwing your GPS out the window.  But to me the surprise of ending up in quaint little hamlets where few tourists have been is a great trade off. During our drive, we spotted charming little villages along the banks of the Rhine dominated by the ubiquitous church steeple plus numerous castles along the way. On one of our earlier visits to Germany, we took a Rhine cruise where we saw the same scene from a boat and now, we are seeing them from a different vantage point and actually driving within the scenery itself. This whole area of the middle Rhine valley was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I was very excited about that as my goal is to visit as many of the UNESCO sites as possible.
Overlooking the town of Boppard

Driving gave us the rare chance to stop at a promontory on a curve of a hillside which we thought was a great place for a break. So, we dug out some of our snacks from the trunk of the car and while indulging on meat pies and drinks, we took in the panorama of the Rhine River, the hills filled with vineyards in early stages of spring growth, the various water crafts working their way up and down the dark green waters and the town of Boppard, a little hamlet on the banks of the Rhine, dominated by the church steeple of Sankt Severius just below.

St. Severus is the main and largest church in Boppard. It is a 12th to 13th century building which is located off the market square. It features two tall towers, topped by black spires. Inside, you can find remains of an older church on the site. There is a baptismal font from the 5th century, and a pulpit from the former church. Also inside are a collection of impressive colourful wall paintings. The Triumphal Cross is also incredibly old, yet well preserved. (from www.agermanyattraction.com)
Sankt Severius

Triumphal Cross Altar
Baptismal Font

Wall Frescoes
Ceiling Frescoes

Miraculous Madonna and Child

Stone work outside church

After the brief respite, we followed the narrow winding road down to Boppard and decided to stop and visit the church and shop for souvenirs. After which, we were hungry again and asked the shopkeeper for suggestions for a quick bite and she suggested the bratwurst at the local butcher down the street. It was the best bratwurst I've ever tasted. We had a choice of beef or pork bratwurst mit brot (with roll) which were grilled and accompanied by some mustard. Along with the local beer, it was just perfect. So charmed by Boppard and not wanting to leave the town right away, we had some ice cream and joined the locals basking in the warm sun on a cloudless day at the little platz (plaza) flanked by a modern fountain in front of the Rathaus (Town Hall) and Sankt Severius. One note,  the fountain was surrounded by sculptures that were meant to be seats and one of them is sculpted in the form of a naked  female form which I thought was peculiar for a fountain on a church square.
Markt Platz (Market Plaza) with Fountain
The shops around Markt Platz
More Shops around Markt Platz

 Food offerings from the Butcher Shop

Shopping District

Our drive continued along the Rhine passing by similar villages as Boppard. Notable is St. Goar with the huge Rheinfels castle, started in 1245 by Count Diether V of Katzenelnbogen, lurking over it. We originally planned to take in a Rhine river cruise from St. Goar but our timing was not right so we decided to skip it and just check in at our hotel.
Rheinfels Castle above Sankt Goar

On our way to our hotel, we passed by the legendary Loreley rock and of course, had to stop to take pictures. The rock (more like a hill) is located on the narrowest part of the Rhine. The name Loreley is attributed to either the German "lurein ley" meaning murmuring rock due to amplified murmuring sound from the rock or "lauern ley' meaning lurking rock due to the many accidents in the area. Loreley is also the name of a water spirit (mermaid) of the Rhine who, according to lore, lured sailors to their doom. The many ballads and poems written about Loreley as well as Frantz Liszt musical composition Die Lorelei have contributed to its mystique and legend.

Loreley Rock

Click on picture caption to hear one of the more famous ones by Die Lorelei Heinrich Heine recited in German

In addition, here is the English translation by A.Z. Foreman

The Lorelei

I do not know what it means,
That I am so sadly inclined;
A fairy tale of old, it seems,
preoccupies my mind.
The air is cool and darkening,
And peacefully flows the Rhine,
The mountain top is sparkling,
The twilight sunbeams shine.
The fairest maid is reclining,
In wondrous beauty up there;
Her golden jewels are shining,
She combs her golden hair.
She combs it with a golden comb,
And therewith sings a song;
It casts a spell on the gloaming,
Melodious and strong.
The boatman in his little boat
is seized by wild delights;
He looks not upon the rocks,
looks only up to wondrous heights.
Both vessel and man before long
By the waves to their ends were flung;
And none of this if not for the song
The Lorelei had sung.

We continued our journey headed towards  another town on the banks of the Rhine named Oberwesel where on a hill towering over the town the Schonburg castle is located and which is also where we would be spending the night. I will tell you about this special place later.

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