well we´re in Aarchen now so I can report on the Rhine Castle situation. In a word its a bit dodgy.
Our first castle, on Wednesdaz, was Marksburg. Marksburg is the big tourist castle. It was never taken and is the only castle on the Rhine complete from the middle ages. Its probablz better than Meersburg… except that you can onlz see it with a guide… who goes a mile a minute and only in German. (bze the waz if there are zs and ys mixed up that´s because this keyboard looks normal but is actually German layout so I have to guess at the keys a bit) Anyway we were very lucky to get to Marksburg before it opened at 10 because when weäd finished out tour with two other couples there were about 50 kids ready to go for the next one – not ideal.
One of the problems with these castles is that most were razed either by Napoleon or during WW2 (or both) and also looted bz the Americans so there is not a lot left. Most are either Victorian neo-gothic restorations on old foundations OR still in ruins. Also many have been converted to hotels or still in private ownership – so not available to view inside – which would be OK if anz of the guides actually told zou that. As it is its a verz pot-luck game.
The other highlight on the Rhine is Reinfels – a ruin but one that still has enormous power as a building. It is huge and because it hasn´t been reconstructed zou can realz see the huge size that it must have been.
Apart from those we have seen about 8 castles in varying states – had a couple of disappointing experiences but mostly good. Its not as geared up for tourists as I had expected.
Ooh I nearly forgot Pzalsgrafinstein (don´t asked me to say that). Thats the toll tower standing in the middle of the river. Its under extensive renovation at the moment and was never a residential castle but was very cool. Its in the Eyewitness Castles book if you´re interested.