For more info on Christoph's world tour in Germany:
Would you have known? Brazil is on the Baltic Sea, America and Russia in East Frisia and the South Seas in the middle of NRW. Now that the real world is so far away, travel writer Christoph Karrasch has embarked on a world tour of Germany, visiting places with promising names like California, Rome and Bethlehem. He also dropped in on the world's highest cold-water geyser - who would have thought that it bubbles up not in Iceland but in the Eifel?
Christoph Karrasch, born in 1984, is a travel journalist and television reporter. His first book "#10Tage" was published in 2015, and the accompanying film was awarded the Columbus Film Prize. Today, Karrasch regularly appears in front of the camera for the ProSieben magazine "Galileo" and is a TV travel expert. His new book San Francisco lies on the Rhine (€12.00, ISBN: 9783548065038) is published by Ullstein Taschenbuch Verlag.
My destination today is Andernach in Rhineland-Palatinate. The city on the Rhine with 30,000 inhabitants is located almost halfway between Bonn and Koblenz and is one of the oldest in Germany. In the last 2,000 years they had all been here: the Romans, the Germanic tribes, the Franks. In addition to the medieval town center, the gates and towers of the old city wall and some magnificent buildings, however, a spectacular experience awaits me in Andernach that one would normally associate more with Iceland.
While in the first hours the rain had drummed incessantly against the bus windows, the weather got better bit by bit on the way to Iceland. A new experience for me, because on the rough island in the North Atlantic I have previously experienced only Schietwetter. In the summer of 2013, I was there for two weeks on vacation, and it rained for two weeks straight. The huge Hallgrím Church in Reykjavík was gray, the rushing waterfall Gullfoss was gray, the famous geyser Strokkur was gray, in general the entire Golden Circle, the main tourist route in the southwest of the island: everything gray in gray. Except for the milky blue water of the Blue Lagoon and a gate painted red-yellow, behind which a couple of completely soaked Icelandic ponies stood in a pasture in the middle of nowhere, I stored Iceland away as a completely colorless country. And something else about the trip was insanely unpleasant: the smell. Everywhere it smelled like rotten eggs, because Iceland is an active volcanic island and the foul stench of sulfur emanates from all cracks in the earth. I am not exaggerating when I say that I was sick for two weeks. My nose and stomach just couldn't stand the smell. Yet I'm sure I would love Iceland in nice weather and with a clothespin on my nose. Only, unfortunately, I did not get a second chance until now.
The next morning is the time, because Iceland is also located in Andernach, at the northeastern tip of the Eifel. Similarities are geohistorically quite given, also the Eifel is of volcanic origin. Iceland crawled out of the sea through eruptive activity in the first place, the Eifel thus became the low mountain range it is today.
As one of the first guests I enter the blue and white shipthat will take me to Iceland. However, not over the rough Atlantic, but over the very leisurely Rhine. And the best: After I have already felt the full force of the emerging autumn with cloudy, wet, gray weather in recent days, today shows a really golden October. A bright blue sky, already in the morning over 20 degrees and the sun pops quite wonderful. Actually, I would need sunscreen, but who thinks of packing sunscreen when the destination is Iceland.
Our ship is called Namedy. On board are mainly families with children; in the meantime, the fall vacations have begun in parts of Germany. As we cast off, the Namedy sails the first few meters up the Rhine in the wrong direction, because it first has to let through two of these flat Rhine ships with goods for Rotterdam. Then the ship makes a U-turn, which looks quite impressive for a barge that is almost 50 meters long and unceremoniously stands across the Rhine. "A very good morning to you," a male voice sounds from the speakers on deck. It is the guide who will accompany us to our destination for the next two hours: the largest cold-water geyser in the world.
"Geyser is the Icelandic word for 'to erupt', 'to gush' or 'to set in motion'"he explains to me and the other 75 or so guests on board. "You know these fountains bubbling out of the earth from Iceland, of course, but also from Yellowstone National Park in the U.S. and from New Zealand." The subtle difference: these are all hot-water geysers whose water shoots up at temperatures around boiling point. The Andernach geyser, at about 25 degrees, is much colder - and perhaps not quite as naturally formed as the others. More about that later.
"About every two hours the geyser erupts"., the man explains to us from the loudspeakers. "Normally, the fountain builds up slowly, then stays at about 55 meters for a few minutes and finally slowly recedes. This morning will be different, it will be spectacular!" He adds, "Be prepared to get wet." A murmur goes across the ship.
After 15 minutes ride turns the Namedy again and docks at an iron footbridge. On it, we walk across a small natural beach on the banks of the Rhine and then reach the wildly overgrown Namedyer Werth peninsula, which - unlike the Japanese Garden in Düsseldorf - has not seen a local garden office for a long time. You might think it's really nice and quaint if it weren't for the massive concrete bridge over this nature reserve, which is crossed by cars and trucks every second on its four lanes. The feeling of a real nature experience does not want to set there with me until now.
Behind a small chapel we reach a large open spaceThe center is formed by a stack of reddish-brown stones, perhaps two meters high. The group spreads out at a distance of about 30 meters around the rusty boulders, from which the fountain is probably about to come. Since no one explains to us what exactly is going to happen, we all stand there tensely and wait. Hardly anyone averts their eyes, no one wants to miss the moment.
Suddenly, there is such a loud hiss from the stack of stones that we all flinch at the same time. Quite a few cover their ears.
First, huge amounts of gas are discharged under the deafening hiss, then the water fountain shoots into the air. In no time at all, it rises to 50 meters and shows us its stiff dance. We were not promised too much: This is a truly spectacular performance, and the group's cameras and video cameras are running hot. A staff member opens a curtain rope, clearing the way to the source of the geyser so that everyone can get as close as possible for a selfie. But as the first visitors start to move, a horrified shriek goes through the group. The wind has gotten caught in the geyser, putting it in a violent tilt, and now the spray is spraying once over all the onlookers. I also get a good portion, which lands on me and my camera.
"Please be careful," our guide speaks up. "This is extremely mineral-rich water. Don't just wipe your lenses with your T-shirt, it could scratch them." Good tip. I decide to put the device away for now.
"So what is actually special about this outbreak?"I want to know from our guide.
"It's the first eruption of the day," he explains. "Theoretically, the geyser would erupt around the clock about every two hours. But we only let it erupt four times a day. In the evening, we close an underground slide valve that suppresses the eruption. This builds up enormous pressure overnight, which is released with a loud hiss when it opens for the first time in the day. The other eruptions are much more leisurely." So it's clear that it's essential to book the first tour in the morning, because then the fountain bubbles away like a bottle of mineral water that has been shaken vigorously before opening.
By the way, exactly with this background the geyser was created.
In 1903, the first well was drilled on the Namedyer Werth because the search for carbon dioxide had been successful. The gas came from a magma chamber in the earth's crust and was to be used for the production of mineral water. However, production on site was not so easy, because unplanned high water fountains kept shooting out of the well. Word spread quickly, of course, and soon newspapers everywhere were reporting that the highest carbonic acid fountain in the world existed near Andernach.
In the early 1950s, the spring slowly dried upbecause the well had been damaged during the war due to lack of care. A new well was drilled, but the project was soon abandoned in favor of the planned federal highway 9 across the Namedyer Werth. It was not until 2001 that it was decided to revive the geyser for tourist purposes. A golden idea, as it turned out. A 350-meter-deep and 15-centimeter-thick well was drilled, control of the eruption was perfected, and today up to 350 people can travel here by boat four times a day. The geyser of Andernach is one of the top sights between the Rhine and the Moselle.
After about eight minutes, the fountain slowly diminishes again. In the meantime, most of the group has finished taking selfies, and now there is room for me at the front of the spring. The closer I get, the more clearly I see that the air above the only weakly bubbling water jet is shimmering. Gas is pouring out, giving me an unpleasant sense of déjà vu the next time I take a breath. It smells like it did back in Iceland - like rotten eggs. Hydrogen sulfide seems to be escaping here, too, this gas that managed to spoil my vacation. Today, fortunately, it does not smell so strong and is reasonably bearable.
When the fountain has finally dried up completely, I step a little closer to the stone stack to take a photo of the eruption. Good idea, perhaps, but bad timing: at that very moment the geyser decides to do an encore. He puffs out again, shoots up another three, four meters and gives me a lush, extra-moist slobbering kiss.
"Yes, that also happens sometimes in the first outbreak of the day".the guide laughingly calls out to me as I stand there like a wet washcloth. This info could have helped me a few seconds earlier. But I take it with humor, because the day is warm and sunny. And at least I can now cross "shower with mineral water" off my bucket list. After 45 minutes we have to go back to the ship, so my stay on Iceland ends. It was short and nice, a quickie with an old acquaintance. When I disembark in Andernach, I have a good portion of summer blush on my forehead. I didn't expect that. Not in October - and certainly not from Iceland.
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