Wine Galore!

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May 31st 2015
Published: May 31st 2015
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Our drive from Herleshausen to Cochem was very picturesque. As we got closer to our destination, we found ourselves travelling down steep switchbacks heading into the valley where the Moselle River flows. All along the river are several campgrounds filled with trailers. We passed through small town after small town sitting along the river with beautiful bike/walking paths joining each of these postcard perfect places. As we drove along we were amazed at the vineyards that lined the steep hills. Row after row of grapevines sat in terraces along the sides of the hills. The Moselle Valley is famous for its wines, white ones especially. We finally came to Cochem, a small town of just under 5000 people. As we drove in we could see numerous river cruise boats lining the banks, cyclists everywhere and a busy epicentre of restaurants and shops. We dropped into the tourist info centre and got directions to our apartment which was on the other side of the river. We made our way down the tiny streets until we arrived at Ferienwongung Frank. As I went up to the door the owner was there and took us up to the 2nd floor where we would be staying in a bright and large apartment complete with a box of cookies and a bottle of Moselle Riesling wine. Looking out of the windows, the Reichsburg Castle was right across from us! After settling in we went in search of a grocery store, enjoying the fact that we could do some of our own meals at home for a change! After dinner we headed out across the bridge to the Old Town and wandered around the now quiet streets.

On Friday morning we first awoke to nice sunny skies but were soon disappointed when clouds rolled in. Rain followed shortly after so we opted to stay in. I worked on the blog and Curtis caught up on his journal writing (actually it's scrapbooking and he's very talented 😊.Later in the morning, after the worst of the rain had passed, we headed over the bridge and walked through the the market square where the Rathaus and other timberframe buildings provided the backdrop for cafes. We then found the walkway to take us up to the Imperial Castle of Cochem, the Reichsburg. This magnificent structure sits perched on a cliff and also has vineyards climbing up the grounds in front of it. As luck would have it the skies opened once again and we made the journey up under a gentle sprinkle. As we passed through the castle gates we heard on the speaker that the next tour would begin in 5 minutes. I hurried ahead to get the tickets while Johnny Flash snapped more photos. The Reichsburg Castle was first documented in history in 1130. The medieval castle was built on a high hill for the purpose of defence, with three steep sides for enemies to try to climb while on the fourth side there were 4 gates to get through. In 1151 it was occupied by King Konrad III who declared it an imperial castle and in 1294 another German Emperor pawned it to the archbishop of Trier. In 1689 it was completely destroyed by King Louis XIV's troops. It lay in ruins until 1868 when a Berlin businessman bought it and reconstructed it in Gothic style. Since 1978 it has been under the ownership of the town of Cochem. Our tour was led by the most delightful lady and although it was given in German (we had an English handout), she often spoke in English about each of the rooms, having a magnificent sense of humour and a good grasp of the English language. We wandered through the beautiful rooms with thick oak carvings on the walls, doors, and furniture. The room that was most magnificent was the Knights's Hall with its huge fireplace guarded by two froglike-creatures (which we learned were lions wearing knight's helmets with the visors pulled down!). We walked out onto the balcony, situated 100m above the Moselle River, which provided the most astounding view. As we left and wandered back to the town we got caught in a deluge of rain that was not about to let up anytime soon. We ducked into a unique basement winery that was virtually in the rocks under a building. There were so many little places where you could go in to sample and/or buy the local wines. After a bit more wandering we went back to our apartment for lunch and to dry off. Later we walked down the street on our side of the river and had dinner in a nice restaurant just as the sun was breaking through the clouds.

Saturday morning we were on the road by 8:45 am in order
Panoramic View of CochemPanoramic View of CochemPanoramic View of Cochem

From Reichsburg Castle
to reach our 2nd last destination, Trier. Although it was only 88 km away, this distance on winding roads is certainly longer. We had to drop our rental car off in Trier at 11am and Miss Anal Retentive did not want to be late! As we drove down the road following the Moselle River, we could not get over the spectacular beauty that surrounded us. On one side of the river you could see vineyard after vineyard and each one had huge letters advertising their winery name (just like the famous "Hollywood" sign). On the other side were thick, green forests. We were intrigued by the mechanisms like small train tracks farmers use to go up and around the vineyards. These were precariously steep in places, especially since the bottoms of the hills ended right on the edge of the road! The beautiful towns we travelled through were just like something out of a fairytale. We decided that this would be one place we would like to return to someday. We would park ourselves in one of the many traditional timberframe hotels and then bike the paths between the towns, stopping at any one of the numerous places to sample
Lion in a Frog's SuitLion in a Frog's SuitLion in a Frog's Suit

Reichsburg Castle
their wines!

As we came into Trier we didn't have any trouble finding our hotel as it was right on the road we entered on. We went in and dropped off our bags, got a map and directions from the hotel keep, and set off to return the car. We were making awesome time and had we not missed our turn and ended up back on the Autobahn we would have been dropping off our wheels with a few minutes to spare! Murphy's Law that there is no easy way to get off the highway and after a few U-turns we finally made it to the Hertz rental shop. From there we walked 5km to the Old Town of Trier where we came to the ancient Porta Nigra, a very impressive Roman gate leading into the town. We wandered the busy streets that were filled with people. We stopped for a quick bite to eat then continued on our way to scout out some of the other sights. In the middle of the Hauptmarkt, the busiest square, stands an amazing fountain of beautiful painted figures with St. Peter at the top. He is the patron saint of Trier. It is unlike anything we have ever seen! Also in this square is a large round stand where they serve wine and champagne. At this place was a large collection of people who were all enjoying glasses of rielsing, rose, or champagne. What a great idea! We thought it might be a great entrepreneurial opportunity in Meaford for the summer! Later in the afternoon, we returned to our hotel so we could check in and take our bags to our room. This family run hotel is very nice and we are only a 20 minute walk from the Old Town. Later we went back across the bridge where we found the Kornmarkt/ We found an Italian restaurant for dinner and then returned to our hotel. Curtis was weary and I was besieged by a wicked headache so we had some quiet time while waiting to facetime with my family, who were celebrating May birthdays. Disappointment reigned supreme when our internet failed us repeatedly and we were unable to connect 😞.

Sunday morning we slept in and then had a great breakfast at our hotel. We set off in the opposite direction in order to cross the Roman Bridge, the oldest bridge in Germany dating from A.D. 144-152. We then passed by the excavation site of the Barbara Baths, built in the 2nd century as the then largest Roman baths. Only 1/3 of the original facility has been excavated. Our walk took us to the ruins of the Roman Ampitheatre which, at one time, had seating for 20,000 people who came to watch cruel animal and gladiator fights. The seats are no longer visible as the ampitheatre was used as a quarry so the stones had been carried away to build other things. The walls of the arena are still visible, as is the main entrance and the side paths that lead to the spectator seating. The people would have surged along these passages before and after an event. These paths were called "vomitoriums" which in Latin means 'to spew' (the new name I will give my classroom when the stomach flu inevitably hits). From here we headed to the Electoral Palace and its exquisite gardens and fountains. Next we came to the Konstantin Basilica. This is the largest surving single-room structure from Roman times and sadly, was closed to visits! Next we went into the Trier Cathedral (the Dom). This is the oldest bishop's church in Germany (1700 years) which stands above a former palace from the era of Roman Emperor Constantine the Great. The most precious relic of the Cathedral is the Holy Robe, the Tunic of Christ. Next we visited the Church of our Lady with its magnificent stained glass windows. Just outside the cathedral was a large International Festival. The square was filled with tents and tables. We enjoyed falafel and wine for lunch while listening to music from the big tent. People of several different ethnic groups were enjoying the festivities. We enjoyed a final, delicious German meal at our hotel.

Tomorrow we leave Trier by train for Paris! Our journey has nearly come to an end. We are looking forward to staying in the city of love for 5 nights before returning to reality!


Additional photos below
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Hauptmarkt Square - Trier

Haupmarkt Square

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