|Subject: Re: Questions from a first timer to Europe!|
I think you said it best when you said you have an ambitious schedule! Remember that frequent travelling eats up your time and money while in Europe. Many times, the travel itself will be interesting, but usually when there is plenty of flexibility to take advantage of the interesting things along the way (that's why an auto is sometimes preferable). Anyway, keep up with your efforts to dissect the trip into days sightseeing and days travelling. If there are too many days travelling, consider fewer destinations and absorbing more while you are there. You can always add short day trips from your major destinations.
In the Rhein river valley, I would recommend Marksburg castle for the view and the authenticity. The other castles along the Rhein are great, but they are - so to say - reconstructions.
They give tours in English and while there are a few challenging spots with stairs, it is a worthwhile tour. Of course, all the Rheim castles are meant to be fortifications to resist attack, so they are built on hill peaks. Might want to e-mail or call them to see how close you can get by taxi/shuttle/car to avoid excessive walking.
That castle is in/near the town of Koblenz which is the confluence of the Mosel and the Rhein if you want to keep both options open.
I know the castle at St. Goar (Burg Rheinfels) as a shuttle from the boat docks to the castle which might be a plus for you.
I have been to the Mosel only once so can't say about the castle situation there. You may want to consider that as an option to throw in if you can get everything else scheduled.
At the south end of the castles along the Rhein is the town of Rudesheim. Let's face it, it is a town set up for tourists, but all of us are often tourists.
Hope that helps!
Brian Grá aus Frankfurt