It’s a 1-hour drive from Koblenz, the little city with the flower show, to Bingen, where Gudrun would pick us up to take us back to the vineyard.

My parents and I, however, had no car. We didn’t rent one either. To travel the 60km, we took the scenic route: a 6-hour riverboat cruise down the Rhein.

Dad and I (and Mom, taking our photo) had the entire upper floor almost to ourselves. Only a few other people came aboard with us in Koblenz, the first stop of the trip.

Our boat, the Goethe, was an authentic paddle wheeler. I didn’t realize this until midway into our journey when I went downstairs in search of the bathroom and walked past the windows to one of the wheelhouses. “Well, I’ll be damned,” I said aloud.

We saw so many castles. Two dozen of them or more, perched high on bluffs overlooking thousand-year old towns.

We passed the famous Loreley, a rock that shoots almost 400 feet into the air. Between Switzerland and the North Sea, this is the narrowest point of the Rhein. Many boats have sunk here due to the strong rapids and rocks just beneath the surface.

About four hours in, the rain started. We scooted back inside and ordered lunch. How German is this?

And of course, dessert and coffee.

This apple strudel Mom ordered was absolutely delicious.

All of a sudden, it was time for us to disembark. “Next stop, Bingen,” came over the loudspeaker. We had just spent six hours on a boat.

How terribly slow six hours can trickle by when you’re zooming along in a car. But on a boat, paddling along at a snail’s pace, six hours can slip by just like that. ☼