Day One: Koblenz and Cochem

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September 22nd 2015
Published: September 22nd 2015
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After landing in Dusseldorf, we picked up our rental car and successfully maneuvered out of what I still think are the smallest(but cleanest) parking ramps in the world!

First stop Koblenz, which is known for the geographical fact that the Rhine and Mosel rivers intersect there. We enjoyed our first German style breakfast in the brewery in Koblenz. Yes, it’s true that the locals enjoy a “kleine beer” (small beer) called Kolsch even with breakfast. Despite the rain, we walked briefly through the village to find the Duetsches Eck. One thing I noticed instantly were the large riverboats, transporting tourists on the Wine country tours on the Rhine and Mosel rivers. You could walk out beyond all the German State flags to the point where the rivers converge. There is a huge monument erected in the likeness of Kaiser Wilhelm I. We didn’t explore Koblenz much beyond that as it was raining and we were anxious to get checked into our hotel.

Next stop ….Cochem , Germany! As we entered this region, you started to see the hilly terrain covered in grape vineyards. Even on the steepest points, the hills were lined with meticulously straight rows of grapes and this went on for miles and miles through the whole Mosel wine valley. Every square inch of the hills was covered in grape vines. Unfortunately, we were a few weeks early for the harvesting of the grapes from what I understand, but one can only imagine the labor that goes into this process. Due to the intense slope in many area, there would be no way for a vehicle to drive there but it looked like they had some form of conveyor belt to transport the grapes from these especially steep areas. Coming around the curve in the road and seeing the village of Cochem for the first time is a memory that will stick with me for a long time. You could see the cutest little colored two story buildings lining the street, along the hillside, many with patios dotted with umbrella covered tables and countless flower boxes on the exterior of the buildings. In the distance was a huge castle on the hill, literally veiled in the clouds and the whole scene was nestled right there on the banks of River Mosel . It was literally like a page out of a story book.

We were able to get checked into our room at the Romantik Hotel in Cochem a little early and were greeted with a personal “Willkommen Gruenewald Famile” heart shaped sign at our room. Throughout my time here in Germany, I am constantly impressed with the small details that you find at the hotels and restaurants which make you feel so welcome and just promote such a cozy feeling. Okay, so if I was overwhelmed when we drove into Cochem, imagine the feeling when we open the door to our room and see that it has a balcony overlooking the river valley with beautiful flowers in the window boxes and a view of the Reichsburg Castle in the distance, once again appearing as though it is floating in the clouds. (The next morning I actually discovered that you could see said castle from the bed and I decided at that moment that it doesn’t really get any better than that but later I would be proven wrong about that as we embarked on what I later termed our “Three Castles in Three Days Adventure”). After situating our bags, overcoming a serious case of jet lag from the sheer excitement of exploring the surroundings, we set off on the first leg of aforementioned castle adventure. We drove about a mile back down to the village and then set off on foot through the cobblestone streets lined with restaurants, quaint inns, and shops. With each turn, I took in all of the sites, feeling truly blessed to have such an experience. The history of all of Germany always overwhelms me when I think of all the people who have lived here in the past centuries and what their lives must have been like. You can be walking along and all of a sudden there will be a little brick alleyway shooting off the main street and you turn off to explore it and you have a sense of being in this fairy tale maze filled with fascinating sights and sounds and smells. As we worked our way through some of these back streets, we discovered the hill leading up to the Reichsburg Castle so up we went! The road wound around the hill until after about a 15 minute walk we reached the castle which only hours earlier looked like it was perched on a cloud and then Presto, there we are! We got tickets for the next tour and I was thankful that our tour guide spoke English and seemed to enjoyed giving me the English translation every step along the way of the tour. It’s fascinating to think about how people have lived, worked, and battled over the years in these castles. Reichsburg Castle was built around 1000 as a castle of the count palatine. It was here about 900 years later in a fit of jealousy, the count palatine Henrich I slew his wife Mathilde in bed. Years later the French blew up the castle and completely burned down the town. The reconstruction of the castle , which began almost exactly 200 years after it’s destruction, was undertaken by a wealthy businessman from Berlin. He wanted to restore the exterior of a late medieval castle and make it look even more romantic to the sum of five million gold marks. He filled it with an impressive collection of Renaissance works of art along with outstanding arts and crafts of his time. The tour and the entire experience was fascinating.

After the castle tour, we made our way back down the hill and detoured down one of the narrow alleyways where we found a cozy stone walled bar/restaurant and sampled a local favorite, “Federweisser”, translated as “young” or “virgin wine”. It is made of the pressed grapes but not filtered or processed beyond that. As a result it is very cloudy and also very sweet and known for it’s digestive qualities. It’s the first wine produced of each year's grape harvest so because of the timing of our mid-September visit, we were able to enjoy this regional specialty. Then back to the hotel where we barely made it through our first night dinner of Schnitzel and another regional specialty of Mosel Reisling before our eyelids were so heavy that we retreated to bed.

Additional photos below
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Ourbalcony welcome sign at Hotel RomantikOurbalcony welcome sign at Hotel Romantik
Ourbalcony welcome sign at Hotel Romantik

Yep, that's a castle in the background!

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