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Published: October 29th 2006
Having come all the way through Germany without stopping in any small towns, I was determined to get out and see something before leaving. So, I thought the Mosel River valley would be a perfect place to go since I also love German wine, and the Mosel is one of the best places for the Riesling grape to grow.
I got up early and caught a train to Koblenz, which is a city located where the Mosel river flows into the Rhine. I had about 2 hours after arriving in Koblenz before my train to Trier was due to leave so I decided to walk to the confluence and check it out. For some reason I figured it was maybe a kilometer each way, but it turned out to be more like 6 round trip. With my 15 kilo pack on...argh. However, I did get to walk along the Rhine for quite a ways and it was cool seeing the river boats cruising by.
Eventually I made it to the confluence, where there is a large monument and a paved plaza. Aside from some pretty scenery up on the surrounding hillsides, there really wasn't much to see though. I'm
not sure what I was expecting, but the Mosel river is slow moving so there wasn't much action where they came together. I did get to see a river boat turn completely perpendicular to the flow of the Rhine in order to head up the Mosel. Pretty amazing considering the current in the Rhine and the size of the boat.
I sat for a bit in the shade of the monument eating a baguette with nutella, which has become one of my staples when I can't find real food. Nutella is a bit uncommon in the US, but it's everywhere here and people use it in place of peanut butter. In fact I haven't had peanut butter at all since I left the US. After I finished my lunch I hoofed it back to the train station and hopped on the train bound for Trier.
For the first 30 minutes or so the train traveled right along the Mosel. One on side you look across the Mosel to the north-facing hillsides, and next to the train you have grapevines terraced all the way up the south-facing ones. Eventually, the train leaves the river and goes through a number
of tunnels as cuts through the hills that the Mosel bends around. I took the slow train, which was nice because the scenery didn't fly by, and we stopped in a number of small towns to pick up locals.
I arrived in Trier a couple hours before dark and walked to the tourist office to get a map to the hostel. I checked in, and discovered that the hostel was located in a converted mansion which was kind of cool. Unfortunately it was pretty empty and so I didn't meet anyone at all while I was there. I spent the evening wandering around Trier exploring the old Roman ruins. There wasn't too much to see of them though, but the main gate is still standing in the city center and it's quite impressive. After an awesome dinner of kebab, I turned in early due to the total lack of activity at the hostel.
The next morning I caught an early train towards Koblenz. Since I still hadn't done what I came to do, which was sample the local wine, I stopped in Cochem. Cochem teems with tourists during the summer, but while I was there it wasn't too bad. I decided to walk around with my bag to see if I wanted to stay for a few hours. As I was walking through a small sqaure in the center of town, I glanced up and about 10 feet in front of me was a baby stroller rolling towards me. It was moving at a decent clip, but it literally rolled right into my hands. I mean I basically just stopped and grabbed it. Just after I grabbed it another guy ran over and got a hold of it, so I don't think it would have gone much further had I not been there, but it was a pretty surreal experience. It was pretty obvious who the owner was because she was standing maybe 20 feet away looking around frantically for her baby. I pushed the stroller to her and she thanked me. I smiled and walked on. It's one of those weird moments that I've come across while I've been travelling. Maybe it's just that I notice different things, but it's interesting what kinds of random events happen when you least expect them.
After the day's excitement, I decided I wanted to stay for a bit, so I hiked back to the train station and dumped my bag in a locker. Then I was free to walk around and go into the wine cellars that I had seen. I was pleasantly surprised at how much wine each one let you taste, and I ended up finding a couple bottles to take with me (after sampling quite a bit of course)!
Eventually, I had made it to most of the cellars and so I caught the train to Koblenz and then on to Cologne around 3.
The next entry will be part 2 of Cologne and I can't upload pictures at the computer I'm at, although it finally has a QWERTY keyboard! Yay Spain!
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