Petra Menges has run the KD Agency in St. Goarshausen for 50 years

Loyality to Köln-Düsseldorfer Rheinschiffahrt runs in the family
First place on the unofficial list of the most famous women in St. Goarshausen is already taken. Even Petra Menges can’t compete with Lorelei, the lady who has supposedly been sitting on the rock above the little town combing her hair for centuries. But without a doubt she has much more to say about the Rhine, the boats and the town than Lorelei, who, as everyone knows, only sings one song.

Petra Menges is celebrating  a special anniversary. The 70-year-old has been  running the Köln-Düsseldorfer Rheinschiffahrt GmbH (KD) agency for 50 years, at the beginning with her husband Norbert, who has since passed away. You can’t miss the little agency building, which is painted white and has pretty flower pots out front. It is located on the Rhine promenade/Heinrich-Heine-Strasse, directly at the KD jetty, not far from the town hall.

KD connection for more than 80 years

The office was there long before Norbert and Petra Menges took over ticket sales for the Köln-Düsseldorfer boats at the start of the 1972 season. It was already a family project back then, since the KD connection has existed for a good 83 years. “My parents-in-law Willi and Anna Menges ran the agency from May 1939. Look, this is Willi.” Petra Menges fishes out a small photo with jagged white edges from a mishmash of old black-and-white pictures spread out on the table. “And that’s my husband wearing the wrong cap, which he had to pay a fine for many years ago.” Norbert Menges had to pay ten deutschmarks to the shipping company for welcoming passengers wearing a white cap. The headgear itself was correct, but the time was wrong. He should have switched to a grey cap long before that. Petra Menges laughs heartily about this over-the-top response to the wrong colour cap. That’s how strict the rules were in those days. But a lot has changed over the decades.

Tourism on the Rhine in flux

Things were really busy here in our early years. Many more boats used to stop in St. Goarshausen. It started at 7 o’clock in the morning. Back then, there were still express services with the MS Bonn and MS Wiesbaden. We had our hands full. But our range of services vices for tourists was also broader than today”, Petra Menges remembers. They used to sell souvenirs, and there was an ice cream van, a kiosk and a café. Then and now, the work of the spritely and friendly lady in the agency is not limited to ticket sales. Passengers can get information about the riverboat cruises, the arrival and departure times and about the ships themselves. “People appreciate expert advice and personal contact. We also provide information about the town and its sights. A visit to the historical old town of St. Goarshausen beneath Katz Castle is always worthwhile. And of course, we answer the most frequently asked question: how do you get up to Lorelei Rock, and where from?”. “We” refers to her 14-yearold grandson Elias Melcher, meaning the third generation is waiting in the wings.

Petra Menges has seen a lot.

Lots of beautiful memories

“For Petra Menges, contact with people is still what makes working at the agency so special.

Grandson Elias actively helps out

“I’ve always felt at home at the agency since I was a child,” says the school student. There’s much more to this than just visits to his grandmother. Elias announces the ships, makes sure there are always enough flyers and maps on display and that the stand with the KD magazine “RheinZeit” is always full. “It’s important that people feel welcome. After all, tourism is really important for St. Goarshausen. And ships play a crucial role in this. If there are no ships running, it’s dead here.” Not surprisingly, he wants to work in tourism management one day. At the moment, anyway. “I haven’t made a final decision yet, it keeps changing.”

Petra Menges – 50 years of KD

KD Ticket Office in St. Goarshausen

Rhine promenade in St. Goarshausen

MS Godesburg

Petra Menges and her grandson Elias

Contact with people is very important

For Petra Menges, contact with people is still what makes working at the agency so special. That includes the guests who get on and off the ships, the people who come to the ticket counter and the KD staff. “I value these personal connections very highly.” Like her grandson Elias, she hopes that international guests will also return to the Middle Rhine Valley and the “Lorelei town” soon. Tourism is the most important economic sector for the former fishing and wine-growing community.

Of course, some well-known people have also stopped off in St. Goarshausen over the past five decades. Among them were famous politicians like the then German Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl and former German Federal President Gustav Heinemann. One event has remained particularly vivid in Petra Menges’ memory. “The arrival of the MS RheinEnergie in St. Goarshausen to mark World Youth Day in 2005 was incredible. Nearly 1,400 people waited here at the jetty for the boat.” KD’s largest event ship was used for the visit of Pope Benedict XVI. As a guest on the MS RheinEnergie, the Pope, from the forward open deck, blessed more than 600,000 pilgrims who had gathered on the banks of the Rhine during his welcome cruise.

Weekend trips
with KD Moment

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