I’m racing past kilometer 554.
The simple black and white sign on the east flank of the river counts down to the end, to the river’s mouth where the mineral-rich mud and silt enter the North Sea. Another sign tells me what this famous rock-face landmark is.
There’s barely enough time at Loreley to detect the hint of a siren’s call, as the train marches to the next bucolic town. Though small in size, the town and its buildings seem to stand fast in a “group hug” of the river bank in a futile attempt to hold back the rush of the Rhine.
This feels like routine, a journey in western Germany which I’ve repeated many times over the last 15 years. With heavy heart, I’ve departed my adopted hometown of Heidelberg for the umpteenth time. I’m traveling north to meet with friends I haven’t seen in a couple of years.