Sunday, 26 August 2012

rheingold

Mostly just to see something that we had not had the chance to see before and take out the camper in fair weather but partly also to check out the environs further afield of my future workplace, H and I took a weekend trip through the Rheingau. The region was outstandingly beautiful, opening into a vast landscape of vineyards climbing trellising upwards from the manicured banks of the Rhein, gently sloping and peopled heavily with palaces and cloisters and villages reminiscent of the French countryside.
Not to disparage the fine cities that sprawl to form a megalopolis from Frankfurt to Wiesbaden to Köln and beyond, but we had not experienced anything else in the area. Surely, we are saving a lot to explore for later but did visit some of the defining destinations points that came in quick succession as soon as we left the city-limits.
One attraction that we found was the Niederwald Monument, personifying Germania and built to occasion the unification of imperial Germany after the Franco-Prussian wars, windswept at the summit of the Rheinish terroir, and among a collection of Empire colossal monuments commissioned and built all in a shared spirit, like the gallery of greatness at Walhalla, the Monument to the Battle of the Nations (Das Völkerschlachtdenkmal bei Leipzig), or the Barbarossa Monument (der Kaiser-Wilhelm-Denkmal) in Kyffhäuser meant to intimate that the then new emperors were the legal successors to the Holy and Roman Empire of the Germans. I suppose that I am taken with this chauvinism precisely because I’ve been raised with my own for a long time now. Since I came to Germany, I have lived in a few places but none outside of Bavaria—or even Franconia.
Not that I regard people in Hessian or anywhere else as more or less German or anything, there is a certain attitude and dialect that one becomes accustomed to and can learn not to see. There are some aspects and trappings of common heritage and identity that can make what’s familiar or excused or unapologetic rather heavy-handed when just a little less familiar when seen in others. I guess I have a little trepidation but I’m sure it’s my imagination magnifying things. In any case, I am glad that we were able to visit the countryside first as tourists.