Tag Archives: Bernkastel

Mosel River cruise

Continuing my narrative of my Germany trip.

Tuesday afternoon, after viewing the river from the Burg Landshut, we decided to go on a cruise. This was a good example of ‘the plan . . . there is no plan’. We had intended to have something to eat at the castle but all the inside tables were taken and there was no service at the outside tables because they were all still wet from the rain. Indeed, it was still rather threatening weather.

So we drove back into town and booked a river cruise. This was a one-way trip from Bernkastel down the river to Traben-Trarbach. Wilfried would drive to Traben-Trarbach and pick us up. What service!

As the crow flies, these two towns are less than three miles apart. Following the river, they are about 14 miles apart.

So we set off on the cruise ship, Nikolaus Cusanus:

We passed Graach, where we had had dinner Sunday night. Wehlen, Zeltingen, where we went through a lock along with a coal barge. We passed under the incomplete autobahn bridge towering 150 meters over our heads.

We passed Ürzig and Erden. Erden is the home of the Erdener Treppchen vineyards. Treppchen means little steps and there is indeed a long set of steps going up the steep hillside there.

For the entire 14 miles, there wasn’t a single south-facing hillside without vines.

The day wasn’t as spectacular as Sunday had been, but it was still fun. At Traben-Trarbach, Wilfried was waiting for us. We contemplated going to the Buddha Museum, but lunch was more important. It was after 4 o’clock.

more Mosel meanderings

Rather than try to find some kind of theme today, I’m just going straight to continuing the narrative of what we did in Germany. Yesterday I left off at Burg Eltz, in a steep valley only a mile or so north of the Mosel as the crow flies, but quite difficult to find. At one point, we had to stop a bicyclist to ask directions.

Looking now at the map, I think I know what happened. Despite being so close to the river, the terrain is such that there is no direct route to the castle from there. We turned off the river road at Müden – follow along! – and almost immediately there was a problem. We got turned around in the steep village streets and came out again my the river. We flagged down a passing fire department vehicle and got squared away to get out of town and up into the Eifel plateau.

Wilfried, who had a general understanding of the area, kept saying, ‘We’re close’ but the road didn’t go in the right direction. We went through the villages of Möntenich and Pillig, then cut across country towards Münstermaifeld. This is where we talked to the bicyclist.

in Münstermaifeld we finally saw another sign to the castle, and took the road through Wierscheim. Soon we were at the castle parking lot. A pleasant walk of about half a mile soon brought us this view:

We caught the last tour and saw the schaztkammer, then had just enough time to grab an ice cream before the food counter closed at 6 pm. Our trip back to Bernkastel was uneventful but we were finally getting hungry after our late lunch in Beilstein. Surely the famous Bernkastel MarktPlatz would have restaurants open late on a summer evening!

There were, but it took some doing to find one at 8:30 pm. Wilfried was astonished. He told us stories of the days of his youth hanging out in the Bernkastel downtown late. The place we found open only would serve wine in bottles at extortionate prices so we had beers. They did come up with a nice cheese plate, though!

Walking home across the bridge to Kues, we saw the moon rise over the hills and Burg Landshut. Very nice!

Tuesday morning it was raining so we decided to take a tour of the Cusanusstift. Nicolas of Cusa was a major figure in 15th Century in Europe. He founded in 1451 a home for old people in Kues that is still in use. Upon his death in 1464 he had his library sent to Cusanusstift. We were able to enter the library and marvel at the books dating from the 9th to the 15th Century. Behind glass, of course!

Here’s a view of the Cusanusstift from my first trip to Bernkastel in the winter of 1982:

The rain lightened, so we went up the hill to the Burg Landshut. Although the castle is ruined, much effort has been made in recent years to spruce the place up and now there is a very nice restaurant with a glass wall allowing you to look over the village and still be warm. The seats were all taken so we passed on lunch there. The rain had mostly stopped so we got some nice views from the ramparts.

the plan

When Mary and I started getting serious this spring about our trip to Germany, we naturally tried to think about what to do and see there. Attending Leni’s party was our principle reason, of course, and we knew we had to visit our ancestral home of Bernkastel. Mary had, with the help of Wilfried, gotten tickets to see the saxophone group Sistergold so we were doing that.

Beyond that it was open. She had heard of Neuschwantein so she wanted to see that. Cologne was close to where the party was so a trip to the cathedral was pretty easy. While we were there I wanted to see the German-Roman Museum which is right next to the Dom.

Munich is where our cousin Andreas lives so we definitely wanted to visit there. I had fond memories of my honeymoon trip up the Rhine through Freiburg and along the Bodensee.

In the end we sort of punted. We knew we would be in Odendorf the first couple of days for the party and we thought we could see how things were and talk to our German relatives about what was practical and interesting in the time we had. Our cousin Mary Sullivan had been to Neuschwanstein the week before we arrived and told us it was expensive and very crowded. She didn’t say don’t go but it certainly put a crimp in the idea.

By Sunday, (the party had been Friday night) everyone was heading to their separate homes. Mary and Tom had been in Germany and France already three weeks and were ready to go home. Wilfried packed Mary Beth and I into his car and we headed for Bernkastel. Along the way we discussed plans.

As we neared the Mosel River Valley, he stopped in the village of Klausen hoping for an open restaurant so we could eat lunch. We were either too late or too early for a Sunday, but he had a story about the church there so we stayed and looked around. Then we were off again and soon got our first sight of the Mosel.

By the time we got to Kues, we were pretty hungry but it was 5 pm and he had already reserved a spot for dinner at 7. We settled for a snack and a beer before getting settled in Leni’s house. A quick walk around town and a drive up to the Panorama Restaurant in the neighboring village of Graach.

After we finished, we tarried to watch the sun go down over the river.

The next day in the morning, we walked around Kues and Wilfried showed us the houses our ancestors had lived in at various times in Kues going back over 300 years. Quite amazing for these Californians!

This is a view of the church cemetery where many Hangauers are buried. The hills in the background are actually on the other side of the river. If you look carefully, you can see Burg Landshut, also across the river.

After our walk, we piled into the car and headed out for the only undamaged castle in the valley at Burg Eltz. It survived the French occupation of Napoleon’s time by being hidden in a valley rather than on a hilltop. Despite Wilfried’s GPS, we had a hard time locating it and it was almost 5 pm when we finally got there. It all worked out fine: we still got a tour and a look around before it closed and we had more stories to tell.

Rather than driving straight to Burg Eltz, which is not in the Mosel valley, we had asked Wilfried to go on the river road. This took longer, especially as we were inspired to stop a couple of times to admire the view. As the day went on and getting to Burg Eltz before closing became a possibility, we took to articulating our philosophy: ‘The plan is . . . there is no plan!’

We stopped to walk up to the Youth Hostel on Marienburg to look over the village of Punderlich:

We stopped at Beilstein to take the ferry across the river for lunch under the shadow of Metternich’s birth place.

Finally, Burg Eltz (photo by Wilfried).

So, the plan that wasn’t a plan worked out great. Speaking for myself, I couldn’t have asked for better traveling companions. Although Wilfried had seen it all before, he had an easy going approach that allowed us to follow our curiosity perfectly.

trip planning

I’m starting to get serious about my upcoming trip to Germany. I talked to Mary yesterday and we agreed to talk tonight when we’re both able to concentrate better. (She was driving home and I was at Mom’s.)

Today I picked up a Michelin guide to Germany at the library and brought it home. I didn’t check the due date but it may be that I could just take it with me . . . Don’t lose it! There are lots of interesting things to do there. I was sort of blasé about it before but now that I’ve looked at the book, I’ve got lots of ideas.

Bernkastel and the Mosel River valley are no brainers. I always wanted to go back to Trier which is at the west end of the valley. Leni’s party is near Bonn so Beethoven’s birthplace is right there. The Rhine River valley south from Bonn is beautiful. The cathedral at Cologne is a must. There’s a wonderful Roman-German Museum right nest to the dom. I’d love to be able to go back to Aachen and see the throne of Karl der Grosse again. Wilfried and Elisabeth are near Baden Baden so that is a must.

Mary wants to see Neuschwanstein so that is near Munich where Andreas and Luisa live. I’d love to be able to show Mary the upper Rhine valley from Freiburg to Lake Constance.

Mary wants to go fast on the autobahn but I’m not sure how or where it would work to do this. We’ll consult with Wilfried. He and Elisabeth will be picking us up in Frankfurt and it’s a 2 hour drive to Bonn. Maybe he’ll let Mary drive for a bit! I believe they are joining us for the Sistergold concert which is 3 hours from their home. That will likely be a drive too.

Lots to think about!