We recently spent two wonderful weeks on the Rhine Untour in Oberwesel. This was our fifth Untour, and each one keeps getting better!!
Weather: Lots of clouds, frequent showers, some heavy. Temps in the 40's and 50's. Jeans, jackets, layering, sturdy shoes and umbrellas were needed for part of most every day. We anticipated this and came prepared, though we did miss enjoying outdoor cafes and topside on the KD boats. The severe flooding that engulfed most of central Europe occurred after we arrived home, and did not impact our trip, but we are sorry for those whom it did.
Transportation: We had a direct flight on United Airlines from Washington Dulles to Frankfurt Germany. Our early morning arrival time precluded an official Untours meet and greet. Passport control, baggage claim, activation of rail pass, and locating correct train platform all took less than an hour. It was very easy to do this on our own. The German trains are punctual almost to the minute. Wish arriving back in the US had been so easy!!
Weiler Apartment : The apt. is spacious, comfortable and very clean. It is located on the front side of the house and is part of a larger building where the family lives and operates their business. There is traffic and street noise during the day, especially with the windows open, but is quiet at night. It is an easy flat 5-7 min walk to the train station, and about the same distance in the opposite direction for shopping and the KD boat dock. We thought this location was perfect. The living area is very large, with multiple windows facing the street. The bedroom is behind the living room through a curtained doorway. The bedding is comfortable and there is a large armoire with plenty of storage. The bedroom itself is dark and quiet, with no natural light except from the living area. There are two ceiling light fixtures, no bedside reading lights, and no wall outlets in the bedroom. The full kitchen is well equipped for preparing and serving meals. It has a smaller European style refrigerator without a freezing compartment, a full size stove/oven, microwave, an American style drip coffeemaker, and no dishwasher. The bathroom with stand-up shower is adjacent to the kitchen, and has limited storage space for toiletries. The garden area consists of an inner courtyard surrounded by the apt. and family living quarters. It is spacious with beautiful plantings, benches, tables, chairs, waterfall and a koi pond. The wet chilly weather we experienced during most of our stay did not allow us to enjoy this as we would have liked. It looked very nice and would be a lovely spot in good weather. Frau Weiler and her son Guido are friendly, gracious hosts. Guido speaks excellent English, Trudy less so, but she tries hard and always has her pocket translator handy. They entertained us with several local sightseeing excursions, and in their home for wine and conversation one evening. Guido is very fit and walks very fast. He considers the steep uphill hike to Schonburg Castle a "quick easy stroll." and asked us to join him on the walk, but Trudy offered us a ride in the car instead, which we willingly accepted!!.
Communication: Untours provides a simple Nokia cell phone. Ours was programmed with most local numbers needed, and supplied with a couple of Euros worth of minutes. We used it for a few local calls but used our personal cell with international coverage for calls back to the US. Public internet is not easily available - we could never locate the internet cafe that was supposed to be in or around the Oberwesel hospital, but did find that the Tourist Information Office in St. Goar has one computer for public use for a small fee, and a friendly clerk to get you started. An open Wi-Fi (WLAN-in German) network was non-existent for my android device in any area where I tried to connect except the business class lounge in the Frankfurt airport prior to our flight home!!
Day trips and sightseeing: Everyone has their own "must sees" and there has been more than enough written about the wonderful sights in the Rhine area. Every day we did something different, even if it was just to spend a few hours at the interesting museum right in Oberwesel, or join in the local parade on Pentecost from the church to the river. .Rita and Natalie will provide much information at orientation. I will, however, mention our longest day trip which was via Moselkern to visit Burg Eltz. We thought the on site guide book provided by Untours underestimated the time , difficulty, and suggested footwear (hiking boots are a must) of the walk/hike required to reach the castle. We are middle aged, but are not sedentary and it took us 2 1/2 hrs., half of which was somewhat steeply uphill through a muddy forest trail. We're still not sure it was worth the effort, and were very glad to find out we could get a taxi back to the Moselkern train station. It was 30 euros well spent. Be sure to inquire where tickets are purchased at the castle entrance if you feel the same way after slogging through the woods and don't relish the thought of the walk back! They will call for you, and the 2 1/2 hr walk only takes 10 minutes back by taxi!!
Biking: We didn't bike, but we did walk a lot, and these are my observations: The scenic shared bike/walking trails are wide, often flat and many are beside the river and train. Biking on the city streets seemed risky due to narrow streets and fast traffic. Bikes are permitted on the trains, however, it is necessary to carry one's bike up and down fairly long flights of stairs in order to depart or arrive from the trains as most tracks are connected by underground tunnels without lifts. It looked especially challenging for some.. I would imagine these stairs would also be difficult for the mobility impaired as well.
Eating and Drinking: A small local grocery and bakery supplied all our needs for the limited cooking we did. We were always out at lunch time, and ate wherever we happened to be. For dinner we frequently ate at Zum Lamm -located 1/2 block away from the apt (ask Guido for directions if needed, he loves this place). Alex is one of the young English speaking owners and was always helpful with the menu - she would frequently sit at the table and chat if she had time. They serve excellent inexpensive meals and wonderful Riesling wine from their vineyards. Purchase a bottle or two to enjoy later, it's much better and cheaper than any in the market. The restaurant is fairly small, and very popular with the locals. Make a reservation and they will save you a seat, but be prepared to share a table. By the time we left, we had lots of new German friends!!.
Beki's cafe is practically right across the street from the apt - they have a limited menu of well prepared food to eat in or take out (we used it for take out). They were undergoing an ownership change while we were there, but hopefully are still open with the same quality.
Many smaller restaurants do not have English menus, and the larger ones that do frequently do not have all available items listed, just the items they think the tourists will like. You will get a much better meal and better choices (probably cheaper also) if you order off the German menu. Just ask for an English speaker to help you. If the server can't, another patron often will assist.
This and That: We liked being a bit removed from the more touristy villages of St. Goar, and Bacharach though we enjoyed our visits to both. They seemed to have more tourists roaming the streets as tour bus companies would pick up or drop off their passengers arriving or departing on the KD boats there. Each town is only a 5-10 min. train ride from Oberwesel.
Public restrooms are plentiful, but most charge 1/2 euro coin. It's worth it because they are all so clean, so keep some coins handy.
Local banks no longer offer currency exchange. It's ATM's or nothing!
We loved everything about Germany!!!