Burg Eltz, Cochem & Beilstein
Fri - Sept 14 - Burg Eltz, Cochem
Just to catch up on the brief from yesterday night, arrival at FRA was on time, though the taxi to the gate was 20 minutes. Immigration was about two minutes, the bags came quick, and customs was the usual walk through. Getting the car a snap. It's a Ford C-Max, nice four seater, loads of room, but Siegfried will take some time as the manual is in German and it looks like you must be born in Germany hereditarily knowing how a GPS works. So it could even be Brunhilde for all we know. Time will tell.
But, the Garmin worked great and we got off to Burg Eltz, about 150 Km away by 9:30.
The countryside is beautiful, the highways really nice, with most streches at 130 KPH (78MPH). Got to Eltz castle at 11:15.
Burg Eltz was built about 1000 AD and has been owned by the same family for 33 generations. It's loaded with 15th century frescoes and furniture as well as museum rooms full of arms, jewelry, dinnerware and cutlery. There were pictures of the old family, and some old paintings, as well as more recent pictures of their descendants. It was a typical 'storybook' type castle, and required a hike up the mountain and a brief descent, but still provided great views on the surrounding terrain.
We had lunch on their terrace and then left for Cochem.
The drive to Cochem is along the Mosel river. First you have to climb up a bit to scale a small peak, and then the usual windy road to get down. Along the way, when you finally break out on the river side the view just smacks you in the face as you see the Mosel River spreading left and right down below. We got out for some pictures, but with a pretty stiff wind, and the attendent chill, we got back into the car for the descent to the river.
Basically the road to Cochem runs along the river and the scenery is beautiful. We arrived about 2pm, found our hotel, and checked in. The hotel is a restored 19th century house and has 11 rooms, ours on the top floor, overlooking the castle and river. The couple who own and restored the home speak excellent English and have decorated in a mixture of modern and antiques. Quite a charming place.
We dumped our stuff and headed out to walk the town. Cochem is a mid size town of about 10,000 people but swells to many more during the day as it is a major stop for tourists and river boats. We walked for a few hours, stopped to listen to some bands playing in the streets and finally for some coffee and cake. By 6pm we were getting a bit tired. But as for the bands, there were two we saw, both on major squares, all playing loud, almost boisterous, music, which was at the same time familiar and new, and sounded great.
The streets were jammed though, and as we'd find out tomorrow, Saturday night, closed up early, around 6 pm or so, probably because the major industry were day tripping tourists.
We finally called it a day about 6:30 pm and headed back to unpack.
By the way, the weather so far has been great. Cool, but not cold, some clouds but mostly sunny, and thus warm in the sun. The rest of the week looks to be the same though Saturday will be cloudy most of the early day.
Saturday, Sept 15 - Cochem & Beilstein
Up a little late, 8am, but only because the first boat doesn't leave until 10:30. So we had a leisurely breakfast. The buffett style was sumptious with lots of the usual, though no eggs except soft boiled, but many kinds of salami, hams, sausages and cheeses.
Today we decided to take our boat trip to Beilstein in the morning and do Cochem Castle (Reichsburg) in the afternoon, just in case it might rain later.
The ride down river is an hour. Boats leave every two hours and return starting at 11:30 every two hours. The trip is like a small cruise, lots of people, mostly German. You can tell that too because even at 10:30am every table was filled with glasses of wine and steins of beer. We passed through one lock, and that is aobut 20 minutes of the ride.
The town is small, with less than 150 full time residents, and most of the houses line the shore. A very picturesque setting. Aside from the setting it's also known for its castle, Burg Metternich. Though destroyed by the French in 1688, and a ruin today, it still retains some interesting walls and towers with great views of the Mosel.
Many people rent bikes and ride from Cochem to Beilstein, which is made easy by a bike path, paved, that runs along the river the whole distance.
We left at 1:30 and returned to Cochem on a slightly smaller boat, and this more crowded. Even more so than the morning trip, albeit being the afternoon, cartons and cartons of empty beer bottles covered the tables by the time we returned to Cochem.
Before I forget, the route has you surrounded on both shores with terrain that rises from the river and is covered with vineyards. The steepness of the fields means that all of the harvesting must be done by hand, probably dragging small barrows along to store the ripe grapes in.
We got back at 3pm and headed for Cochem's castle. This is a real castle in the sense of being whole, and looking like it did in the past. But it was destroyed by the French in 1689. Fortunately, in the late 1880's, a rich Berliner restored it and turned it into a private residence. In 1942 he had to turn it over to the Nazi's (they used it as a training center for lawyers, which doesn't do much for their professions image), and it now belongs to the town of Cochem. But in spite of its history the castle is interesting and impressive, to say nothing of the views over the river and Cochem.
We finished the castle and had an early dinner at a restaurant on the main square called Ratskeller, recommended by the owner of the hotel. Beef for Mike and Pork Schnitzel with a mushroom cream sauce for Karen. The restaurant is in a "cave" with limestone walls and beautifully decorated. Our meals and wine were excellent and filling enough that there was no need for dessert and we returned to the room at 7:30 to pack for tomorrow.
So far the trip's great, we're enjoying the German countryside, and having a great time.
And the pictures:
Our Room in Cochem
Beilstein Entry & Castle from Boat
The Mosel from Cochem Castle
Cochem Castle & Tower