Sunday, September 10, 2006

Oberwesel Rhine in Flames

Last week, I attended a Mosel Wine Festival and fireworks at Bernkastel-Kues. This week, it was a Rhine wine market and the latest Rhine in Flames show in Oberwesel. Overall, I think Bernkastel-Kues is a better time. But Oberwesel has the better fireworks. I mean, seriously...they were the most INSANE fireworks Lance and I have ever seen, and he comes from a small town, I from a large town with huge fireworks every year around Independence Day. This display made that one look small time. I kid thee not.

Anyhoo...on with the report. It won't be that long, I promise.

We left Schinnen around 11 am with 2 busses, such was the popularity of this trip. Lance and I were one row in front of the very back. The women sitting in the back row brought a bottle of wine and proceeded to get wasted. Lance and I were trying to nap, and we ended up dealing with boisterous laughter and a lot of talk about unpleasant bodily functions. Yay.

But finally, we arrived in Oberwesel around 2 pm, and we had the entire day to ourselves. So Lance and I took off and just meandered. We decided against going to the castle...neither of us felt up to the hike, and besides, it probably wasn't anything we haven't seen before (yes, I know...SHUT UP!), so we just decided to stick to wandering around town.

Unfortunately, Oberwesel was dead dead dead. All the shops were closed. The only thing going on in town was the wein markt, which is not a wine festival, per se. The entire point is to get you to sample and buy. I'll get to that in a minute.

We first stopped at Liebfrauenkirche, which is Oberwesel's bright red brick church, attached to a very old little chapel, which I believe was the first church built at that location. I'm just assuming, though. It's 1600 years old, so it's a logical assumption. The church was very pretty inside, a pleasant surprise, since I've visited many underwhelming places of worship.

After that, we just kind of continued our wandering, even paying our admission to the wein markt (we pretty much had to gain admission to get from one side of town to the other) and our tickets allowed us to come and go as we pleased, so we just kept poking around and seeing what we could see, which unfortunately, wasn't much. In the meantime, passing through the wine market, I sampled a glass here or there.

Lance thought it might be nice to take a river cruise, so we went down to the riverbanks, only to discover that the boats there didn't really do pleasure cruises, or if they did, they were several hours long and rather expensive. So we scrapped that idea.

At around 5:30, we decided to have dinner at this little Italian place that we scoped out earlier. So we found a seat on the patio, which was right next to the wine market entrance, so we could people watch (well, I could...Lance sat with his back to it). We were at a table that seated 4 people, so eventually, this old guy came and sat with us, which is customary in Germany but weird for Americans to sit with total strangers. We did our best to ignore him and carry on with dinner and conversation.

After that, we went to the riverbank and waited for the fireworks. And waited. And waited. We ran into people from our group, so at least we could talk to other people. We had more than 2 hours to kill.

Finally, at 9, the procession of lighted boats came down the river.

Then at 9:30, the town of Oberwesel glowed red...everything from the castle on one end to the city gate on the other took on a bright red appearance. Smoke rose up. Flames were shooting out the front of one of the buildings. It was supposed to resemble the night back in the Middle Ages when Oberwesel went up in flames.

And then the fireworks started. They were perfectly choreographed to a variety of classical music. Breathtaking. Amazing. Just completely magical and awe-inspiring.

When those ended, we high-tailed it back to our bus, as the scheduled departure time was 10:15. Everyone made it back, but two women from the second bus, who we had to leave behind. Oh well. No sympathy for them. If they couldn't follow the rules, that is their problem.

On the way home, we had to stop abruptly at a rest stop. The second bus had a bit of a puke fest going on, so the bus had to be cleaned and fumigated before we could hit the road again. I'm just glad it wasn't our bus.

And in conclusion, drunk people on busses are annoying. The guy directly in front of me kept swilling the beer, and he got louder and more obnoxious with each sip. I couldn't sleep on the trip home, but at least Lance was able to a bit.

And None of the fireworks though, sorry.

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