Fellow Travellers

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Mosel - Germany July 2009

Trier July 3/09

We arrived in Trier in the late afternoon in the wake of a summer rain storm. After checking in and puttering around for an hour the rain was over and we walked through the center towards the Porta Nigera. The Porta, a large Roman gate, is one of the fabulous ruins in Trier that we discovered. Entrance to the site is a mere $2 euro where you can climb to the top and take in the view of the center of the town. Inside carved stone walls grace the archways and passageways.

Trier also boasts outlets for a couple of lovely housewares companies, Villroy and Bouch and a high quality German cutlery manufacturer. My shopping spree was quashed as G insisted he was not packing up more items to move. Unfortunately we really should have bought the cutlery because it is twice the price in the Netherlands!

We continued to explore until close to dinner then headed to the hotel to arrange a reservation at Restaurant Schlemmereule. The restaurant is set in a courtyard behind a large hotel on the Trier Dom (Cathedral) square which we planned to visit the following morning.


It was a glorious evening but we were late in booking our restaurant reservation so we had to sit inside. Our first course was delicious, mine a veal carpaccio and G had a pear, walnut and goat cheese salad. We both ordered fish for dinner and the entire meal went very well with a riesling selected by the sommelier. I recommend it if you are in the neighborhood!

Trier & Bernkastel-Kues July 4/09

G and I started our sight seeing day at the Trier Dom. We found on arrival that a wedding was taking place inside the church so we ventured to the pilgrims store where I was entranced to purchase a bronze cross.

As the wedding would delay our visit we headed off to see the Roman Ruins. We strolled through the coliseum, then on to the amphitheatre and back into the center. It is quite amazing to walk through the decomposing buildings trying to imagine the crowds of people watching the spectacles before them. We were able to walk below ground at both of the venues – imagining the gladiators and the wild beasts waiting their turns on centre stage.

We meandered back the to Cathedral to discover they were now having a concert of Handels’ music on their glorious church organ. The sounds was phenomenal! The Cathedral was also very beautiful but we did not take many pics during the concert. I did take a fabulous photo in the cellar of the church in a small chapel was filled with light. A crown of thorns appeared to be on fire and it made a stunning photo.

From Trier we drove north to Bernkastel-Kues, which is really two towns separated by a bridge. We stayed in Bernkastel in a small family hotel. The town of Bernkastel is very charming as most of the buildings boast timber facades dating back hundreds of years. We spent the afternoon trying some of the local German brews that went down easy in the heat.

We dined at our hotel that night and then strolled along the river as the evening was warm and wind free. A lovely Saturday night….

Bernkastel-Kues and Burg Eltz July 5/09

On our last day in Bernkastel I convinced G we should do the Mosel River cruise for an hour before we headed out to wine taste. The boat toured us up and down the river so we might see what sites were on either side of the town. From our vantage point we could see vineyards and noted some of the more prominent names, we had read about in the region, in the vineyards.

After a peaceful hour we disembarked and went to taste wines at a local wine bar. The fellow serving us was extremely knowledgeable (and opinionated) on the wines of the Mosel. We had intended a 1 hour tasting and ended up there for almost 3 as he wouldn’t stop talking! Anyway we managed to taste 10 wines and succumbed to the urge to purchase.

German wines are a lot less pricy than their French counterparts. The wines themselves are quite a bit sweeter and I will definitely have to work on my pairing knowledge to do them justice. We plan to share some with my parents when they are here in Sept 09.

Once we extracted ourselves from the wine guru, we headed off to Burg Eltz so G could see his first castle! I had hoped we would hike to the castle but our chatty wine tasting took too long and we decided to drive to the site. We had to rely on our driving buddy Bridgette the Tom Tom girl for directions. I like to call her Bridgette as she has a proper British accent.

As she directed us closer to the castle we seemed to be driving on the smallest of country roads. I found it a little strange that a site that would see thousands of tourists would be accessed through tiny villages. I think her sense of direction was a little askew as at one point she tried to drive us down rocky dirt road off of a cliff! Hello! Just because you tell us too doesn’t mean we will drive off a cliff!

Anyway we redirected ourselves and made it to the castle, Burg Eltz. The castle is privately owned by the original family who preserve it by hosting tourists. We had an English speaking guide (from the Netherlands) give us the grand tour of many rooms. Reception halls, bedrooms boasting the indoor toilets (a hole in floor that dropped down to ??) and the kitchen with its gigantic fire pit. It was a pretty well preserved building and well worth the side trip.

Now the long drive home….

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