Adam, Myles, Scott and I set out for 5 days around Rhineland; Mosel Valley, the Romantic Rhine and the Deutsche Weinstrasse (German Wine Road) ... so just a taster of each region. We headed out from London City, which is always so easy and after a small delay we were heading to Frankfurt. Soon we were zooming along the motorway with cars zooming past us at even greater pace than we were going. Our first destination was Cochem on the Mosel River. We were staying in a little B&B on the way up from the town towards the Reichsburg Castle. Once we had checked in and sorted the parking we headed up to the Castle, which was surrounded by vineyards on a hill overlooking the town and had great views down the river in both directions. We only waited a moment before joining a short tour (in German) around the castle’s inner courtyards and rooms. Super castle albeit a dull tour even if it had been in English! That afternoon we wandered around the town before settling in for a coffee on the market square to watch them set up for the start of the regional wine festival – one of the reasons we were in the region this long weekend. Early evening we headed back to the square to sample some of the local Mosel Riesling both still and sparkling, no bad at all. There were a number of little local bands and choirs singing on the steps of the town hall. Out front of the stage, a resident loony with a giant gingerbread biscuit around his neck, his teeth left at home, was dancing and clapping merrily along. That evening the boys enjoyed a traditional schnitzel river side in an old wine cave before popping back to the market square which was rather packed by 10pm with tourists and local revealers.
On Friday morning we drove out along the Mosel which was so so pretty. It was extremely glassy and still, the forest on both sides came right down to the waters edge or the hills were covered part the way up with vines. We were heading to the Rhine and the small town of Oberwesel, after the more scenic route we arrived at our accommodation for the evening. The majestic Schonburg Castle, initially built sometime between 951 and 1166, but now very nicely transformed into a hotel and restaurant. After a quick coffee on the balcony we headed down the hill to the town and then we were on the Rhine. We spent 2 or so hours meandering along the river, passing by many lovely castles and small towns towards Koblenz. This city is situated on the intersection of the Mosel and Rhine, we didn’t stay long and simply jumped on a train back to Oberwesel to ensure we maximised our time at the castle. Our rooms were great, all appointed with traditional old style furniture. Adam & Myles rooms opened up on to the top of the castle walls and small turret. The weather turned and we sheltered in the turret from a very loud thunder storm enjoying a few drinks before dinner. Dinner was pretty good and we sampled some of the local cuisine and wine, the only issue was the dinning room itself. It was so bright and no option to dim and there was no music; not great atmosphere. We retired to the study for desert and more wine, and ended up having a rather hilarious conversation with an older Japanese couple. It really poured down that evening with the driving rain like a curtain out our open window. What I was rather amazed with from watching the river from our vantage point was the amount of commercial river traffic; containers, waste, natural gas, etc.
The next morning after a late lazy breakfast we headed to the German Wine Road. But not before a little complication on check-out, somehow they had charged just over €700 to our rooms for dinner. We had a large meal, but certainly not that much! Our base for the next two evenings was Bad Durkheim, in the heart of the wine region. Our bikes that we had hired had arrived successfully and waiting for us in a little trailer in the car park of the hotel. The hotel was on the hill with a great view of vineyards towards Bad Durkheim. We did a little burn around on the bikes through the vineyards that afternoon, trying to stay dry as there were a few heavy rain showers passing through. That evening we took it nice and slow, ordering delivery pizza and hanging in the hotels courtyard watching 3 x weddings unfold at the hotel. The big day was tomorrow, the last Sunday of August the wine festival in the region climaxes with the Wine Road being shut to traffic for walkers, bikers and roller bladers.
Thank goodness the morning was crisp and clear, after a delightful breakfast in the courtyard we took off on the bikes to the town to join the Wine Road. Bad Durkheim’s town square was already humming with live music and bikes, people were already sampling some of the local wine either straight up or spritzered. Pretty bold behaviour at 11am in the morning and a long day ahead. We passed through lovely little towns and vineyards with castles on the hills above us. Our first stop was at Diedesfeld with the little square which was packed, but we managed to find a table and enjoy our first spritzer. This was a pint glass 65% wine, 35% sparkling water it was very refreshing and the bell rung out from the church behind us signalling noon. We were soon on way amongst the growing crowds old and young alike. There was a lovely atmosphere and luckily we were going the direction which maximised the down hills. We were a long stretch before a lunch which was Rhodt. It was a great stop as it was absolutely buzzing with people and meats. I had to make do with a waffle for lunch. But of course there were spritzers all-round. Soon we were off again and heading onwards, but this time towards the closest railway station after around 45km of riding. Things were getting a little more rowdy along the route; dancing on table and other such merriment. The final section of riding was excellent; via fields of sun flowers! The train ride back was packed full of bikes and a little annoying as we had to make two changes. The funniest thing was passing by one of the music / drink stops which was in the vineyards and seeing a couple ‘getting it on’. Clearly they thought they had got far enough away from the festivities, but had forgotten about all the people passing in the local train ... whoops! That evening we had dinner and one more spritzer in a lovely Bad Durkheim square before tackling the hill back to the hotel. I nearly had a disastrous end to the day as I badly predicted the way a lady was turning and clipped her wheel; luckily I was able to jump clear before the bike hit the deck.
The final day of the trip was relaxing but a little disappointing. We visited Speyer and Worms on the Rhine, a couple of nice churches but nothing much more than that. The high point was a sundae in the sun before heading home to London City very relaxed.
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