Bill and I finally had the whole weekend to do something fun. Since we moved to Wiesbaden, I’ve been stacking up places I want to visit, and the list grows ever longer. But Bill has had to work at least part of every weekend since the first weekend in March. When we finally saw the sun today, we decided to go to Rüdesheim am Rhein, a town in the Rhein Valley known for its winemaking.
I had read up a little on Rüdesheim, so I knew it would be touristy. We live about 45 minutes away, so I figured if we liked it, we could come back and do some of the touristy things. Today, we just wanted to get a feel for the place and maybe have lunch and pick up a couple of bottles of wine.
We parked at P2, a large lot at the top of a hill (3 euros for three hours). We walked down the hill toward the Rhein River, but then noticed that people were bearing right to an area that looked like it might be the main square. It turned out it wasn’t really the main drag, but it did take us past a pretty church and some interesting looking shops and restaurants.
You can always count on finding a church in any German town.
And a torture museum. We didn’t visit this place, but I will be sure to check it out the next time we come to Rüdesheim. I am sure there will be a next time, even if it is teeming with tourists.
The wine museum is near, as well as the “skyride” that will take you up the gentle mountaintop and around the area. We’d need at least three hours to do that right and we got a late start today… We will have to come back in the fall or maybe later in April and try it. I think in a few weeks, this town will be full to the gills with tourists.
Come on in! And if you want, you can stop by the Irish pub.
I bet this is really obnoxious in the summer.
We walked around a bit, searching for an interesting restaurant. Alas, a lot of the places were very touristy, with menus translated into half a dozen languages. Don’t get me wrong. The translations do make it a lot easier for tourists, but it also makes a place a little less charming, if you know what I mean. I was a little unimpressed by Rüdesheim, at first. We stopped at a hotel restaurant for lunch. I chose it because they had something other than schnitzel and sausages, or pizza and pasta.
We had lunch at the Drosselhof… on the Drosselgasse. Ordinarily, I would avoid such a place, since it’s right on the tourist row, but none of the other eateries were inviting and this place had duck on the menu. I ended up having salmon, anyway.
A kindly waiter invited us to sit down. Although it was almost 1:00pm, the place was empty. Our waiter spoke English, but seemed a bit shy about it.
Look at all the languages!
We ordered glasses of Riesling and sparkling water. Bill went with the trout and I had a salmon filet.
Bill’s trout was fried, served with parsleyed potatoes, and a really nice horseradish sauce. I think I liked his dish better than mine.
My salmon filet, cooked medium rare with a mustard dill sauce, croquettes, and a salad…
This had a great creamy dressing and was just enough to share.
As we were eating, the Drosselhof filled up somewhat. The inside of the restaurant is very charming, although it doesn’t get the best ratings on TripAdvisor, Facebook, or Yelp. I could see why. The food was fine, but not that special, and it seemed to be primed for tourists. But for us, it fit the bill fine.
We finished up by sharing this delightful dessert– crepes filled with hot blueberry sauce and served with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream. It was so good! Total bill was 66 euros, but it was kind of a nice place to be. The waiter kindly turned on the heater for us, although we didn’t really need it. And I got to watch some guy brazenly feeling his woman’s behind while they perused the menu at the Weingarten across the alley. For once, I didn’t sneak a photo.
If you need to pee, you can use the Drosselhof’s toilet, but it will cost you 50 cents. They don’t charge people who are guests.
You can also pick up some smokes if you need to.
This… is the source of a lot of noise! And big crowds, too.
Next to the Drosselhof is a wine and art bar, where they serve these delicious pastries, strawberry wine, and play music. It appeared to be part of the hotel. Next door to that was one of many wine shops. Again, everything was translated into five or six languages. We noticed many Asians there. Rüdesheim will definitely go on my list of European towns where you’ll find many Asian tourists… not that it’s a bad thing. I’m just making an observation.
This is your town if you like wine. It reminded me a little of Riquewihr, France, but perhaps with less charm.
This is where you catch the skyride that will take you all around the area. We will do this on another day.
Reasonable rates and an extensive network that can even include a ferry cruise if you like.
Chances are, they have your language, too.
Very tourist friendly. They even say so on the sign.
All in all, I was feeling somewhat unimpressed by Rüdesheim. We were about to find a wine shop to pick up a few bottles to take home, when we were invited to sit down and try wine by a super charming elderly couple who spoke almost no English.
We did buy some wine… I think we arranged for 18 bottles, which will come to our house in Wiesbaden… What can I say? This turned out to be a very magical experience… one of those bonding times one has with a host country. I really needed it.
We went into this little hole in the wall place and the wife, who spoke no English at all, started bringing out wines for us to try. I would not be surprised if she’d had a little herself before we dropped in. She kept pouring wines for us to try. Bill eventually told her not to give him any, since he was driving. She claimed she had alcohol free wine, but after she poured it, Bill looked at the bottle and it indicated 13.5% ABV! Good thing he was paying attention!
I was surprised that I understood a fair amount of what she said, and was even able to answer a little bit. Bill speaks more German than I do, but sometimes I understand things faster than he does. After we’d tried four or five wines, he got up to speak to her husband about making a purchase.
The wife apologized for not speaking English, then explained that people her age learned French. I totally understand that. I learned some Spanish for the same reason. Little did I know when I was in high school that I would spend six years living in Germany and only one year in Texas, where Spanish is very handy. The one language I am conversant in– or was at one time– is Eastern Armenian. Few people outside of Armenia, Fresno, and Boston speak that. But anyway, I was able to get the gist of a lot of what was said… although I did miss a few things. And I was even brave enough to try speaking German. The wine helped.
Then, the lady asked me what I do with my time. I told her I write… and I also sort of hesitantly told her that I’m a singer. And I am also a Hausfrau, although apparently not a very good one, according to our ex landlady.
By that point, a couple of pretty young women came in. They spoke some English and were happy to translate when the lady asked me to sing a few bars for her. So, although I was a little tipsy, I sang the first line of a very operatic German art song I learned in college. No, I don’t speak much German, but I can sing in German… a little, anyway. A couple of people were startled by the sound and stopped in their tracks, peering into the wine shop. I probably could have done something more mainstream, but whenever this happens to me, I’m usually at a loss of what to do other than songs like “Summertime”, which is totally burned on the brain… I have sung “Summertime” so many times, I kind of don’t want to do it again.
As luck would have it, this morning someone on SingSnap commented on one of my recordings of the old song, “What’ll I Do.” The first time I heard this song was on an episode of The Golden Girls, when the late actress Bea Arthur sang it at a bar. I liked it so much that I decided to record it. This was the result.
I recorded this in June of 2018, but someone happened to comment on it today. I got an email alert, which made it very convenient for sharing. This was probably nicer than my slightly drunken operatic line in German. The German lady’s eyes lit up and she touched her heart… then she brought me a bottle of lovely Spanish wine as a gift. For all I know, she would have done that anyway, although I kind of doubt it. On the other hand, she was quite free with the wine tasting.
I really needed today. Lately, I’ve been a bit down on Germany and kind of wanting to go home… if not for good, then maybe for an extended visit. I know this happens a lot. People who live in countries that are foreign to them can experience cultural highs, culture shock, and finally, culture fatigue. I think I may be experiencing a bit of culture fatigue after the stress of the past nine months or so. But today was a reminder that sometimes, you can connect with the people… and you don’t necessarily have to speak the language to do it.
When I lived in Armenia, singing was often the only way I could get my youngest students to sit down and shut up for our English lessons. I have found that in Germany, it’s also a way to break the ice and meet people. Meeting people adds to the pleasure of being here.
Anyway, I feel sure we’ll be back to Rüdesheim. I’ll bet that woman will remember me, too… if not for the song, then for the fact that we ordered 18 bottles of wine. She even gave me a big hug as we left! Sometimes fate or God lead you just where you need to be for a second wind… and maybe a second wine.
The mighty Rhein, which we will soon be exploring a lot more.
Goodbye new friend, Rüdesheim.
Until we meet again, Rüdesheim!