the worst war

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This post is about a 15km walk from Guntersblum to Nierstein. We rest at the castle ruins in Oppenheim, then we camp in the vineyards.

Ah, so relaxed! After two and a half days in the winery we felt good again, and so we packed our stuff, bought another bottle of Xenia for the way, and got going.


After a few hours and a bit of climbing we reached the Landskron Castle ruins. They sat on top of a hill overlooking the town of Oppenheim. I immediately had to think of the movie Oppenheimer that I wanted to watch. And guess what! Remember how I told you how the name Shapiro came from Speyer? Well, as it turns out, J. Robert Oppenheimer could trace his family roots to the Jewish Oppenheimer family, and they came from here, from the town of Oppenheim!

As it turns out, when family names started becoming a thing Christians most often went with their jobs (like Smith or Miller) while Jews often went with the places they were from (like Shapiro or Oppenheimer).

the ruins

We stayed in the castle ruins for a long time. The castle was from the 11th century, but it had been renovated and partially rebuilt several times over the next few centuries.

“So when was it ruined?” asked the weirdo while I was reading a sign with an historical introduction.

Take a guess, I answered, trying to look as if the answer was obvious.

“The Thirty Years’ War?” offered the weirdo, and she was right. The only war that had arguably been more destructive and more traumatic than World War II (not morally, no, but in terms of physical destruction) was the Thirty Years’ War. This war, which was ultimately about some religious conflicts that had arisen between Catholics and Protestants, depopulated whole swathes of land in Central Europe over the span of three decades.

The castle ruins didn’t have any bullet holes in them, so it was unlikely that the castle had been destroyed in a modern war. This left the Thirty Years’ War, the war that had caused generational trauma, as the most likely culprit.

the view

When we left the ruins it was already late in the afternoon. We walked through the vineyards until it was dark, and then we kept walking. At some point the road went up into the hills and stayed there. We passed a platform with a pavilion, but it didn’t look very inviting. So we kept on going, hoping for something better to come along.

And it did. At about nine in the evening we were having dinner overlooking the Rhine. Our tent was pitched in a pavilion that would shelter us from a rain front that had been announced for the night. We were having bread with spread and bell peppers, and we were overseeing the ships in the river, the highway, the railroad tracks, the airplanes landing in Frankfurt Airport, and the skyline of the city in the distance.

Possibly our best camping spot yet.


the walk from Guntersblum to Nierstein:

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