Bacharach: It’s All in the Details

As our long-term readers may have noticed, while traveling, we attempt to notice and capture unusual and intriguing details that make each city unique.

The infinitely charming, and meticulously preserved village of Bacharach was fertile ground for detail, and was a photographer’s dreamland.

Two-tone Door

Terri – bless her curious heart – has always had a penchant for wandering down back alleys, and this habit didn’t change in Bacharach. On one of our alley ambles, we discovered these ancient looking two-tone doors, which captured our eyes with a wonderful combination of colors and textures. Who knows how old they are, but in a historic town like Bacharach, anything less than 100 years old is probably considered new construction.

Wine Corks

Bacharach and the Rhine Valley are well known for their centuries-old wine tradition. After some experimentation, we settled on trockener wein (dry wine – red or white) as our favorite. This simple display in a wine shop window taught us something about wine: how the corks are made.

The Medieval guild signs used by shop owners in Rothenburg were artistic advertising, and a glimpse of everyday life in the Middle Ages, but the shop signs of Bacharach took a definite humorous turn.

Sign-Sporting Goods

My read on this comical sign is that it tells the tale of the big one that go away. The artist must have been a member of the Guild of Fibbing Fishermen.


And the Pension Binz is clearly a B&B.

Butcher Shop

Chicken on tonight’s menu?

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The colorful art on this gable indicates that this house was built in 1420. I’ve always been amazed by these half-timbered buildings; that’s timber as in wood rot and termite food. The fact that such a concentration of 600 year-old houses has survived is incredible to me. They must be a tremendous labor of love for the owners.

Shutter Dogs

We had to include this photo, if for no other reason than to have the chance to use the term shutter dogs. Engineers us the term “dog” for a tool that prevents movement – hence: shutter dogs.

The Old Mint

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No Medieval village could function without money, and The Old Mint was there to keep the economy afloat.

Bacharach left us with a pleasant feeling, and after our experience there, we can definitely recommend it as a travel destination. The residents are welcoming, they have a a strong sense of history, and a willingness to make a place special. And it’s all in the details.

Happy Trails,
James & Terri



We're Terri and James Vance - high school sweethearts who went on to international careers and became world nomads. Today, 65 countries later, we're still traveling ... and still in love. Check out Our Story for more of the backstory at

69 thoughts

  1. James and Terri I love your unusual finds. I have to say that the sign showing the chicken about to lose it’s noggin would not exactly draw me in. possible the snoring sleeper not so much either. 🙂

      1. I’m with you James. I have been known to give a business work because of their clever name. In our city there is an arborist called The Branch Manager. I definitely hired him. 🙂

    1. Thanks Amit. I visited Strasbourg years ago, but I wasn’t as observant in those days, so I can’t make a comparison. There are charming towns all over Germany, and the Medieval architecture is a wonderful surprise. ~James

    1. Thanks for the comment Vibha, and for dropping by the blog. I knew the word shutter dogs, but had no clue of the origin. I pick up all sorts of interesting trivia when researching for a blog post. ~James

  2. Awesome,Awesome and Simply Awesome..I don’t know what simply awesome but this was my first reaction looking at your blog.Amazing pics..Incredible work..The details are so good..hatts off..:)

    1. Thanks for the comment and for dropping by the blog. Bacharach is a photographer’s dream world, and the Medieval architecture is amazingly preserved. It’s hard to take a bad photo here. ~James

    1. The simplicity and colors of the buildings in Bacharach are indeed beautiful Ina. And I love the originality of the humorous signs as well. We visited and fell in love with Dubrovnik, but there must be lots of other charming Medieval villages in Croatia. ~James

  3. Cute photos! I’m not sure they have termites in Germany, certainly never heard of them being a problem in England. Dry rot, yes, termites, no. I was surprised to find that my house needed termite inspections, treatments and insurance in the US!

    1. We have so many annoying, and sometimes destructive, bugs in the Southern US, that I can’t imagine life without them. When we lived in Sudan, one of our friends there was a British expat who swore that before coming to Khartoum, she had never seen a mosquito. Having lived in New Orleans, one of the mosquito capitals of America, I found that incredible. ~James

    1. I am in Portugal right now, and with the decline in the use of corks for wine bottles they are using it for things like wallets and handbags for the tourist trade! (I must confess I find capsules much easier to remove – but I was assured that the wine will not age properly.)

      1. Cork wallets and handbags – these I need to see Kathy. The tourist industry is nothing if not adaptive. We’ve visited Lisbon a few times, and driven through the Algarve. Where are you in Portugal? ~James

      2. This trip I spent three nights in Evora, in the Alentejo among the cork trees, and I’m finishing with five nights in Lisbon. Bit windy today, but otherwise very nice weather in Lisbon. This is my fifth trip to Portugal, so obviously I like it here! I fly to the UK Wednesday, will no doubt freeze…

    2. I visited the part of Portugal known for cork trees, and was amazed to read that removing the bark doesn’t harm the trees. Since bark is a natural, evolutionary protection, I find that hard to believe. Apparently, there’s a debate in the wine industry about “cork taint” which can be caused by natural cork. But I wonder if this isn’t an idea that is more a matter of synthetic corks being cheaper. ~James

      1. In the supermarkets in the UK well over 50% of the bottles have screw caps. I have even reached the point where I deliberately buy screw caps just for the convenience. I think Portugal might be one of the last bastions of traditional cork stoppers.
        Good post BTW.

    1. Thanks Carol. I love doing posts like this. I’m convinced that the constant quest for blogging material has made me a more observant traveler. And charming places like Bacharach are gold mines of interesting details. ~James

  4. I LOVE the door! I would be right next to Terri checking out the alleys! What a wonderful town. I’ll bet you could stay there a month and not see everything.

    1. I agree Laura. The combination of colors and textures as well as the differences in hardware make it very intriguing. It’s a simple door, and yet its appearance raises so many questions about its history. ~James

  5. As always, I love what you find to show us — from that two-toned door that could be in the Hobbit movie to the shutter dogs (new term for me)! That B&B sign is clever, too. Now, I want to put Bacharach on my must-see list. It looks so charming!

    1. Thanks Rusha. I promise that you won’t be disappointed by Bacharach or the Rhine Valley. Bacharach is just one of a string of small villages to visit in the area. We had heard about it for years, and we’ve so glad that we finally made it. ~James

    1. Thanks Joanne. As I said to another commenter, I’m convinced that the constant quest for blogging material has made me a more observant traveler; which is an unexpected side benefit of blogging. ~James

    1. Thanks Tess, places like Bacharach are ideal for travelers interested in intriguing detail. The residents work very hard at keeping the village preserved and in top-notch condition, and it shows. ~James

  6. Really love this post, so much whimsy and color. The ‘Bed and Bath’ vs Bed and Breakfast sign is too funny. I wondered about the two-toned doors on the ancient archway as well. LOVE, love, love this. Happy trails and Holidays to you both!!

    1. Thanks Martha. In my mind, humor and effective cross-cultural communication make for perfect advertising. And as I’ve said to others, the old doors are outstanding. If I were a painter (no chance there), I think that these doors would make the perfect subject. ~James

  7. So nice to be able to get to know a new place first thing on a Monday morning…. thanks for the great tour… now I have to find a way to use the term shutter dogs in a sentence when conversing with friends!

  8. I absolutely LOVE the photos complimented by the snow on your page. It really put me in the Christmas spirit and made me want to go to a German Christmas market. Sadly, we’re in Korea for Christmas this year, and we’ll be lucky to get a plastic reindeer or some fake snow. 😦 There’s not a big to do over Christmas in this country.

    1. Thanks Leslie. We’ve spent a few Christmas holidays in non-Christmas places, and yes, they’re different. But we just did our best to find new traditions to replace the old. Isn’t the snow cool. BTW, did you notice that when you move your cursor across the screen, the direction of the snow drift changes. Pretty cool, geeky thing- eh? ~James

    1. These old doors must have an colorful history Marie. They’re so beat-up, and the different colors and hinge types make them really interesting looking. They were a fun discovery. ~James

  9. The doors, even without the color, would have kept my camera busy for several photos. A treasure James. Good hunting Terri! Keep wandering down those back alleys. 🙂 –Curt

    1. This door is very cool Curt, and I’d love to know the history. And don’t worry, I don’t see Terri stopping here alley roaming habit. I joke with her that one of these days she may find a DB (dead body) – watching too many crime dramas I guess. ~James

    1. We visited Bacharach very soon after Rothenburg Chris, and while Bacharach doesn’t quite have Rothenburg’s fairy tale feel, its setting in the Rhine Valley make it outstanding. ~James

    1. The interesting thing about these signs is that they’re so obvious. There’s so little advertising (tightly controlled by city government) that the guild signs really stick out – literally. ~James

  10. Loved your post. There are so many places in Germany with these lovely street signs. As well as Bacharach we liked Oberwesel also when we stayed in St Goar back in 2008. Last year we visited Quedlinberg in the east of Germany, with it’s wonderful framework houses and of course many of these street signs. With its World Heritage listing it’s worth putting on your list.

    1. Thanks for the comment Mark and for dropping by the blog. This was our first trip to Germany in a few years and it was delightful. Bacharach was a real gem and we took the ferry up to St. Goar for the afternoon. Eventually, we’ll return and hope to focus on southern Bavaria. I think that these small villages have the right idea when they focus on tourism. While some there may not like all the tourists, it can generate income to keep the town vital and active. ~James

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