Geisenheim is a delightful little town on the Rhine. With a population of about 15,000, it’s the kind of suburbia that many city folk apparently liked to lived in. Property prices weren’t exactly soft in this town and rental is at a premium for some of the older and more charming houses.
It was a new experience for me; staying literally a stone’s throw away from a cathedral. The bell tolled at every quarter, half and on the hour faithfully. The quarter and half hour chimes were soft 1-bell tolls while the hourly tolls would start with soft chimes followed by louder ones that corresponded to the number of the hour. I absolutely loved it.
The sun rises at about 6.30 in this part of the world and, just as I do at every new place I visit, I was up and raring to go by then. But, it was a Sunday, and nothing stirred in the cobbled streets below … neither were there any signs of life in the platz in front of the church. At about 8 o’clock, while the boys and Eva were still blissfully asleep, I decided to do a little exploring of my own.
While admiring the façade of the church, I saw a little procession trooping out of the main entrance of the church and the congregation … all of 50 or so people including the priest and altar boys and girls carrying flags. (Apparently, attendance is a little lacking these days; so much so it now takes 1 priest to mind the flock for 3 churches instead of the normal 1-priest-1-church arrangement. It was also an economically influenced decision, for obvious reasons.)
Intrigued, I decided to follow the silent procession from a discreet distance, not wanting to come across as a gawking tourist (which, in fact, I was :). The wind was a little chilly but it was clear the sun would warm things up soon. The road began to wind up a gentle slope and I could see Geisenheim’s vineyards just behind. Still they continued. Soon, the procession stopped by the side of the road fringed by vineyards.
Their destination was a cross, with a fresco of Jesus in the arms of Mary below. They started singing and praying and one of them would read some kind of liturgy to the group. It was a solemn affair, and when they finished, they continued their way again but I decided I was done with my ‘Sunday church attendance’ and slowly walked back to the house.
It seemed like a great start to a great journey for me.
‘The tourist doesn’t know where he’s been, and the traveller doesn’t know where he’s going’
As much as the romantic notion of unencumbered travelling was espoused in that phrase, I was happily going to be a tourist for a day – compliments of Eva. She was taking me to the town of Rudesheim, just a few kilometers down the road, to walk along the world-famous, Unesco World Heritage Drosselgasse. We would also be riding a cable car to the top of a hill that featured an impressive monument called Niedwewald-denkmal – a tribute to one of Germany’s most famous kings, Wilhem Kaiser , and to the German people who fought the French army that was literally at their doorstep across the Rhine during the 1800s.
Tomorrow, the bike shops would be open and I could finally get the front rack and panniers that I had planned to add to my on-bike ensemble of Tubus/Ortlieb collection. Eva would see to that 🙂