Untitled Page 61




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27. 3. 60

Dear Folks,

To begin with - a by now belated HAPPY BIRTHDAY Mom! I'm going to send
a telegram tomorrow to sort of specially note the occasion, but since its words are
expensive, I can say it easier and at more length this way. I've had a special
present picked out for almost two months now, but you'll to wait until June
for that! For now I can just send a special bundle of love!

Tonight is a good night to write since it marks the end of one unit of our
trip - the journey down the Rhein (or Rhine in America) from Köln (or
Cologne in America) to Mainz. It's been a thoroughly fascinating four days,
and in some ways the scenery was quite different from what I expected.

We left Köln Thursday morning and made the 20 km to Bonn by noon. The
countryside was not especially interesting - small plots of farmland and small
towns; and the trip was really hard work because of a constant heavy headwind.
In Bonn we ate lunch in a park beside the old university, and then while Bridge
spent the afternoon on business for his father, I sat for about 3-4 hours in
the warm sunshine on a bench at the shore of the river, read economics and
watched the people strolling along the bank and the barges moving up and down
the river. It was a leisurely and productive afternoon (I might even finish one
of our three econ. texts before the vacation is over). Then when Bridge finished
about 5pm, we rode across the Rhein and about 15 km down (south, although
upstream of course) to the town of Honnef. Here we left the river and climbed for
about a mile up to the youth hostel, situated on a high hill overlooking the river
valley and looking across to the first of many castles the Drachenfels ruins. By
this point we are into the more characteristic Rhine country (for this particular trip, but
not characteristic of the whole course of the river by any means) - with hills rising
rather steeply up from the river, broken here and there along the way by valleys formed
at the entry of a small tributary into the Rhein (some - the Moselle, Emo, Lahn, Main -
are not really small at all, but large, navigable rivers).

Friday was the day we really began to get acquainted with the Rhein - we went
from Honnef to Koblenz down the east bank. There are good highways down both
sides of the river, but there are only 4 auto bridges south of Koln including one
in Mainz (though there are frequent car ferries), so we pretty much had to choose
one side and stay there. We chose the road down the east bank, because it is
less heavily traveled, goes through fewer large cities, and stays generally
more right along the river. As we rode along, many things were as I had
expected - there really is a castle (or old monastery, etc.) on about every other
hilltop, and the rolling hills and colorful river barges were right out of
my tourist anticipations. But we noticed several things which did not fit
with the typical tourist description, and to me these elements made the
Rhein a much more interesting place.

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