Oh, boy! This is where things got interesting, and I had to let go of my uber-planning and let things unfold as we went along!
For the leg from Paris to Bacharach, we chose train travel. I reserved our tickets on the D-Bahn website a couple of months in advance and was able to get 1st Class tickets for only about $10 per person more than 2nd Class! Everything started out uneventfully - we were to depart around noon from Gare de l'Este, so we got there about an hour early, picked up sandwiches in the train station to eat on the train, and hopped on as soon as the train arrived. We reserved four seats around a table, and it was nice to be able to spread out in our own little area! We took the ICE train from Paris to Mannheim, where we switched to a smaller train from there to Bingen. Both legs of the trip were relaxing and uneventful.
We arrived in Bingen around 5:45pm, purchased tickets for the short 10-minute trip to Bacharach, and arrived at the platform just a few minutes before the 6pm train was to arrive. We waited...and waited...and waited. No 6pm train! Thinking that perhaps the train arrived (and then left) a few minutes early, we figured we would just grab the next train due in 30 minutes. My husband ran down to try to find a restroom while we waited, but the station was closed and unmanned at that time of day. He came back up to the platform and said that a taxi driver approached him, said the trains weren't running, and he could drive us to Bacharach for 90 euro. I immediately thought it was some sort of scam, because I knew that German taxis were metered and the distance from Bingen to Bacharach was only around 20 miles. Well, 6:30 came and went, and no train arrived. As we were discussing what to do next, a train pulled up on the track next to ours, and only a conductor and a security guard got off. We asked them when the next train was due, and the response was, "No train! Take bus!" Confused, we headed out of the station to the bus stop, where a crowd had started to gather. As we waited for a bus, I watched all of the various tracks and didn't see trains traveling on any of them. When a bus arrived, we asked if it went to Bacharach or if a bus heading to Bacharach would arrive soon, and the response was, "No bus to Bacharach!" We realized that people were getting off the bus, but the driver wasn't allowing any new passengers on. Now we were really confused. There was a nice young man who spoke both German and English, and he translated back and forth between the crowd and the security guard.
It turned out that the Rhine had flooded over both the tracks and the roads close to the bank. The water softened the dirt of the surrounding hills, and in at least two different areas along the Rhine, there were landslides that blocked both roads and train tracks. So, no train, no bus! The d-bahn sent a free charter bus to the station to pick all of the stranded travelers up and take them north to Koblenz. From there, we were told, we could pick up either trains or buses to bring us back south to our various destinations. We piled onto an extremely crammed bus and traveled the 40ish minutes to Koblenz. By the time we arrived, it was almost 9pm. I was getting nervous because I had told our guesthouse host that we would arrive around 7pm, and I had no way to reach him and let him know our plans had changed, since we hadn't picked up a new SIM card for the phone yet. We got to Koblenz and were informed that neither trains nor buses were running as far south as Bacharach, and wouldn't be until at least the next morning. So, our choices were to either try to find a taxi to take us or try to get a hotel room for the night. We went to the taxi area outside the train station and were told it would take between 100 and 120 euro, depending on which roads were closed, to get us to Bacharach. A hotel would have cost at least that, plus we would have lost the $ we already paid for our guesthouse, so we chose to take the taxi.