Posted: 17 August 2016

Our Rhine Trip Diary

A team of our staff, Lorna, Miriam and Delphine, were recently lucky enough to have the opportunity to visit the Rhine. Always popular among school groups, the Rhine offers some fantastic opportunities for both German and music groups.

Our trio returned full of enthusiasm for this magical little corner of Germany – here’s why:

Day 1

After a pretty easy drive from Halsbury HQ in Nottingham, we arrived at Birmingham Airport. Already in possession of our boarding cards, we headed straight through security for a much-needed cup of coffee.

We were very impressed by our airline, FlyBe – their efficiency meant that our flight actually departed 10 minutes earlier than scheduled. However, we were a little surprised (and amused) by how small our plane was – and the fact that it had propellers!

The journey was really quick, only taking an hour and twenty minutes to land in sunny Dusseldorf. We went straight through passport control and went to pick up our hire car. Two hours later (after a few little detours around Dusseldorf), we arrived in Koblenz, where we headed straight for our hotel – Hotel Scholz.

Our rooms were great – simple in design but clean, and they had everything we needed including a wardrobe, table, chair, TV and en-suite bathroom.

We dumped our luggage and headed off into town. It took us 25 minutes to walk into town, but it was a very safe, easy walk that would be fine for school groups. We went past a number of shops and businesses, past the shopping centre, through the underpass and eventually emerged in the centre of Koblenz.

Koblenz is fantastic for shopping – you’ll find all your high street favourites here including Mango, H&M and Zara. There are lovely, cobbled streets and pretty pedestrianised squares packed full of cafes and restaurants.

We stopped for a drink and a traditional German snack (a yummy pretzel!) and then walked along the Rhine to the famous Deutsches Eck – the point where the Rhine meets the Moselle. We paused here a moment to take in the view of the fabulous Ehrenbreitstein, perched high on the hill above us.

We decided to visit the Ehrenbreitstein, hopping on the cable car which took us over the Rhine and all the way up to the castle in just 6 minutes! At the top there’s a lovely grassy area that would be the perfect place for school groups to stop and enjoy a picnic. There are also toilets here and small kiosks selling ice creams and drinks. The castle itself is huge and it would certainly be easy to spend a few hours exploring it!

After a lovely, relaxing evening, we took the cable car back down the hill to Koblenz, where we enjoyed dinner in a traditional Weinstube overlooking the Rhine. For just €8 we each had a huge bratwurst, potatoes and salad – delicious!

After breakfast, we drove to Kamp Bornhofen. The journey took 30 minutes, during which time we followed the Rhine through the valley, passing through some lovely little villages along the way.

Eventually, we arrived at the Hotel Kürfurst, where we were met by the delightful Mr Schreiner, the hotel’s owner.

He gave us a tour of his lovely hotel, which is ideal for school groups. The bedrooms are bright and airy and all benefit from en-suite facilities. There’s a large dining room, which seats 100 people and can also be used by groups for discos or quizzes. There’s free WiFi too!

The hotel is located in a quiet, sleepy village but is within easy reach of all the Rhine’s main attractions, which makes it a great base for a school group. There are also quite a few shops and restaurants close to the hotel and the KD boat hub departs from here too. And, just a few minutes’ walk from the hotel is a newly built Lidl.

After saying goodbye to the Hotel Kürfurst, we went for a little stroll along the river. We found a lovely little terrace where we could enjoy lunch in the sunshine, watching the boats meander along the river. We chose a very traditional lunch of schnitzel and chips – very tasty!

Now that we had refuelled, it was time to visit another one of our hotels, this time in the Bornhofen part of Kamp-Bornhofen. On arrival at the charming Hotel Wagner we received a lovely warm welcome from the owner, Andreas Wagner who, it turns out, is the cousin of Mr Schreiner, the owner of the previous hotel!

Andreas led us up the stairs (although a lift is available too) to the terrace, where we enjoyed tea and cake. He then gave us a tour of his hotel. This large, traditional hotel offers a great room that would be ideal for a school group to use in the evening for discos, quizzes or even film screenings, thanks to the projector.

The bedrooms here are large and bright, all with en-suite facilities. There’s also a large, traditional dining room and a fabulous sun terrace which would be great for barbecues.

Wow, what a place! This bright, modern youth hostel was a stark contrast to the traditional hotels that we had so far visited. The receptionist here too gave us a very warm welcome as we took a tour of the accommodation. There’s a fab bar and bistro area, vending machines selling snacks and rooms where groups could get together (equipped with all the mod-cons, including whiteboards).

The restaurant is a self-service buffet with plenty of seats and tables. Plus, there were also some seats outside in the courtyard, so you can enjoy your meals in the beautiful, warm sunshine.

All the rooms are modern and bright, with the added bonus of having en-suite bathrooms. Each bedroom, as well as the lifts, washrooms and toilets, can only be opened by using the individual key cards for added security.

Day 3

After Kaub, we headed up to Rüdesheim. Upon arrival, we noticed how busy it was compared to any of the other villages we had visited. However, having said that, it certainly never felt too overcrowded and it still had a ‘safe’ feel to the place (even though the sun was out and it was the middle of peak season).

We decided to for a walk to familiarise ourselves with our surroundings. We saw the main square where groups are able to perform concerts and even met the lady who arranges the seats and electricity for these concerts.

We then walked to Siegfried’s Mechanical Museum, where we enjoyed a wonderful guided tour. And what a fantastic museum it is! It’s full of old instruments that have all been lovingly restored by Mr Siegfried himself and his son.

After our visit to the museum, we decided to stop for a hot chocolate at one of the cafes dotted along the cobbled streets. We did briefly consider sampling the famous Rüdesheimer Kaffee, but after seeing how much Asbach brandy is used, we decided hot chocolate was definitely the more sensible option!

We then took the Winzer Express train which departed from outside the museum. Traditionally used to transport the ferry passengers from the Rhine to the centre of Rüdesheim and back, when there are no ferries scheduled the train is used to take guests for a 30-minute scenic train ride up through the famous vineyards. Commentary is provided in both English and German on the history of the Rhine and the famous Niederwaldendenkmal monument which sits high above the village.

Once the train had returned us to the village, we enjoyed a wander through the streets, stopping to take a look at many of the tourist shops (one of our favourites was the year-round Christmas shop).

We then headed down the charming and famous Drosselgasse and headed back to the car. Our next stop would be Oberwesel, and we’d be taking the car ferry!

It was incredibly easy to take the car ferry from Rüdesheim over the Rhine to Bingen. The ferry can take coaches too and there are crossings every 10 minutes. The journey itself took just 7 minutes and enabled us to carry on our adventure on the other side of the Rhine.

The journey from Bingen to Oberwesel took just 15 minutes and, once in Oberwesel, we started the steep journey up to the youth hostel, which is located at the top of the hill overlooking the town.

It is a bit of a steep and windy journey, but the road is wide enough for coaches to pass. And, once at the top there’s plenty of parking. Plus, the views are simply spectacular!

This youth hostel too was very modern and bright, but this time had more of a ‘family’ feel to it. The reception was large with vending machines and a coffee shop, selling all kinds of drinks and snacks. This led into the buffet restaurant, where there was plenty of bright seating.

The rooms at the hostel are modern, with shared bathroom facilities, and there were even a few large meeting rooms – some of which offered great acoustics and were specially designed with school music groups in mind!

There was plenty of outside seating too, where school groups could relax and enjoy the sunshine in safety. The youth hostel also boasts an indoor swimming pool too, which is great, but please note that there’s no lifeguard on duty.

There are signposted walks from the youth hostel down into the village of Oberwesel and to other nearby viewing points too.

After saying goodbye to the staff at the youth hostel we headed back down the hill and on to our next stop – Boppard.

Day 4

The sun was shining once again and, after a hearty German breakfast (by now we’d eaten rather a lot of delicious bread rolls, cheese and ham), we walked over to the Hotel Rheinlust.

This large hotel boasts a prime location, directly overlooking the Rhine and just 200m from the main square with all its shops and cafes.

The hotel accommodates individual guests in the main building, while groups stay in the annexe – a set-up that really benefits school groups in terms of safety. Although the hotel looks quite traditional from the outside, its interior is modern, with clean and bright bedrooms, all with en-suite facilities. Meals are taken in the main restaurant.

After leaving the hotel, we could hear a concert going on at the bandstand in the park, which is just a few steps from the hotel. Here, groups can play concerts for free. Today’s performers were a German brass band – they were fabulous! There was a crowd of around 50 people, sitting in the sunshine or stopping their bike rides to listen and enjoy the music.

After spending a wonderful few hours in Boppard, we drove a short distance out of the centre to the Hotel L’Europe. Greeted by the new, very friendly owner, we were taken on a tour of his hotel. The location’s fabulous - right next to the river. And although it is slightly out of the centre of Boppard, it’s really just a 15 minute walk to the main square.

The hotel has a large reception area, large dining room, fabulous terrace and modern en-suite bedrooms. There’s also a great basement room which can be used for discos!

We left the Hotel L’Europe and made our way to our final hotel visit – the Hotel Bergschlosschen. What a fantastic hotel! Recently purchased by Dutch couple Nettie and Jaap Vos, they’ve transformed this into a modern hotel which really caters well to school groups.

There are recently renovated en-suite bedrooms, a dining room that can be used for discos, and a lovely terrace and bar area. The owners, originally from a little village outside Amsterdam, bought this hotel 7 years ago and have already made a huge difference.

And that was it! Our little Rhine adventure had come to an end. We put ‘Dusseldorf Airport’ into the sat nav and headed off in our little hire car.

On reflection, the Rhine really is an excellent destination for school groups. Picturesque scenery, quaint little villages dotted along the river, half-timbered houses, vineyards and medieval castles nestled high on the hilltops are just some of the images we’ll remember from our trip.

And Rüdesheim, Boppard and Koblenz are fantastic bases for a school trip to the Rhine, as they really do reflect the beauty and charm of the area.

With cable car rides, castles, tourist trains, pedestrianised squares for souvenir shopping and hot chocolate drinking, as well as Phantasialand theme park just an hour away, the Rhineland really does tick all the boxes for a school trip to Germany.

Fancy taking your students to the Rhineland? Contact us today to find out more!

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