Saturday, 14 July 2012

a taste of germany

My German wanderlust
The Mosel (or Moselle) Valley, twisting and turning as it cuts between the Eifel to the north and the Hunsrück to the south. The deep open curves covered with striking wine slopes rise to superb wooded and rocky landscapes.

Vines have grown on the Mosel since Roman times. Today many of Germany's finest wines are made here. Highly picturesque small towns such a Bernkastel are also a characteristic of the Mosel Valley.

Paths take you through and above the vineyards with fabulous views across the valley. The terrain and most of the gradients are fairly gentle, making the Mosel Valley a perfect place for a relaxing holiday.

 For the walker, after less than 15 minutes walking from the busiest of Mosel towns, you will find yourself surrounded by exquisite and peaceful countryside. This is without any doubt a unique landscape that deserves to be explored on foot.

The Rhine and the Mosel are world famous for its history and legends. In medieval times the province of robber barons, their former fortresses are today the romantic ruins that give the river today much of its character. It is also a winegrowing landscape and you will find nature trails taking you through the vineyards as well as long distance paths past the castles and through the forests. 

We had a fantastic day exploring beautiful Bernkastel-Kues and Cochem - the most romantic part of the Valley where the river Mosel curves between the Eifel and the Hunsruck. 

my little doll has always travelling with me 


It is the July 2012 and it's early morning. There is still a little rain in the Mosel-Valley but it looks like it is going to be a very nice summer rainy day. The sun is trying to break through the huge-beautiful clouds and we are enjoying every minute of this morning.

The start of the day was really early though, about 6 o'clock. That is an early start, but it is so amazing that you can travel all the way from Liverpool to the Mosel-Valley as a coach trip.

After a nice drive through the Mosel-Valley, we arrived in Cochem. It has been the first visit to this place and the first view of it surprising me. You can't visit Cochem without noticing the castle on top of the hill.

The castle is towering 100 metres above the city of Cochem overlooking the Mosel River. The silhouette of the towering hill seems to continue in the castle which creates a wonderful effect. I guess this castle is one of the main reasons that have made Cochem to the tourist village as it is nowadays. And yes, it is also the reason why I wanted to go here, to visit the castle!

 Cochem is located in the Mosel Valley, about 51km (32 miles) South-West of Koblenz, where the river Mosel flows into the river Rhine.

Cochem and the whole of the Mosel valley is known not only for its castles, but also for its wine.
There are vineyards as far as the eye can reach. On the most unimaginable spots you can see vine-grapes grow.

Cochem is a real tourist town and you can find everything a 'real' tourist desires.
There are many tourist shops with all the 'real-tourist-have-to-have-thingies' you can imagine. There are plenty of restaurants, hotels, rooms, pensions There is also a youth hostel and a campground.

If you like a Mosel-wine there is no shortage of places where you have a taste or buy some bottles.

The Mosel River region is wine country. On both banks of the river, there are vinyards. It's also the land where fairy tales were born.
Once upon a time, approximately 5,000 year ago, people first settled on the banks of the Mosel River. Over the years, the settlement grew. The best forms of income for nobility at this time were tolls, so Adalbero of Luxemburg added a toll station for the Mosel ferry here. Around 993, he built a castle and named it after his favorite animal, the bear. (He had a bear on his coat of arms.) Over the years, "Barenkastel" became "Bernkastle". Across the river, the community of Kues was also growing. Eventually, the names of these lovely towns were hyphenated into one and now it is - Bernkastel-Kues.

Mosel-Gäste-Zentrum - tourist information centre

Landshut Castle.
Unfortunately, the original structure of Barenkastell was destroyed by Adalbero's rival in 1017. A second structure was built here around 1200, but was burnt down by Archbishop John I not long after that. The third time's the charm, though, and Landshut Castle was built in 1277.

Bernkastel-Kues is an incredible charming old town on the banks of the Moselle.
Bernkastel-Kues in the romantic Moselle valley is home to a fantastic wine museum and wine bar combined. You can taste over 150 wines there!

It is surrounded by steep vineyards, where the wine that is produced is some of the best and most expensive rieslings in the world. We spent 2 hours in the small town, walking the narrow cobblestone streets, taking seats at local cafe's for espresso and German apfel strudels and of cource - glass of riesling.

Spitzhauschen - it's an extremely narrow house that was built in 1583.

Cochem Castle was built around the year 1000 by count palatine Ezzo. The first time that the castle was mentioned in a document was about 50 years later, in 1051. The document tells about Ezzo's daughter (former queen of Poland) giving the castle to her nephew count palatine Henry I.

In 1151 the castle became an imperial castle, after king Konrad III occupied the castle with troups.

In 1294, king Adolf of Nassau pawned the castle and the city of Cochem and lots of the surrounding properties, to pay for his coronation as German emperor. And the castle changed hands again due to this.

Under the reign of Archbishop Balduin (1307-1354) the old castle was enlarged and fortified.

When the troupes of king Louis XIV (the Sun King) invaded the Rhine and Moselle area the history of Cochem and its castle took a bad turn. The castle was occupied in 1688. May 19 th of 1689 was a black day in the history of the castle. The French troupes put the castle on fire, undermined it and blew it up. The castle was left in ruins and the town of Cochem was almost completely destroyed.
But luckily this wasn't the end of Cochem castle. The castle stayed in ruins for a long time, but in 1868 Mr. Louis Ravene bought the castle and started to rebuild it. He incorporated the remains of the late Gothic buildings into the 'new' castle. The architectural style for this new castle was going to be Neo-Gothic, a very popular romantic style of architecture in the 19th century. In those days it was a trend throughout Germany that nobility and other wealthy persons purchased and refurbished castle ruins and used them as summer residences.

 When you walk into Cochem you will without a doubt end up on the town square. It is a rectangular square with on the one side the 'Rathaus' (city hall) build in a sober Baroque style. Behind it you can see the tower of the Martinskirche (Martins church).

The Martinskirche was built between 1456 and 1503. Unfortunately a big part of the church was destroyed during the Second World War, but has been restored since. The tower has been rebuild after the war of an original which dated back to the ninth century.

it's raining again, my waterproof (?) summer jacket is soggy

Cochem is the tourist heart of the area. Over a million day-visitors a years come to Cochem, so it's no wonder that in the summer this little town is really packed full with tourists.

sending the gift postcard for Elvis from Cochem