Saturday, June 25 Koblenz
It rained all day and into the evening. Undaunted we went to the Tourist Information, at 10 a.m. and signed up for the 3 p.m. tour of the city in English. Then we headed to the cable car which we took to the UNESCO World Heritage site of a 19th century fortress that replaced a 16th century fortress that was destroyed by Napoleon in about 1814. That fortress was the successor to a few previous fortresses on the same sight that started with the Romans before the birth of Christ.
None of that first fortress exists today although many artifacts from that era have been found and are on display.The current fortress is huge with very high walls (about 60’ in places.) It was state of the art as fortresses go when it was built but became obsolete almost immediately as the result of more modern instruments of war and German unification in about 1861. Prior to unification, there were about 160 separate kingdoms in Germany, thus the many castles. In about 1860, the king became king of all and he unified his monarchy.
After the castle we grabbed a bite to eat and then went on the guided tour in full rain gear. We were the only 2 people who signed up for this meander in the rain. Our walking tour covered the many buildings that were on the tourist guide map of the old town. Most of what we saw was rebuilt to match the buildings that had been destroyed in 1944 during the Second World War. According to our guide 87% of the buildings were destroyed. We had our afternoon coffee at Starbucks and met 4 Swiss women who had tried to ride from Bingen to Koblenz (our route yesterday) and could not because there had been a landslide and the road was closed. They told us that they had heard that a train had been derailed by the landslide and the train they took was more than an hour late. Although our rain gear again withstood the test of rain all day, we were tired from all of the walking we had done and decided to have a picnic in our room as neither of us wanted to go out in the rain again. We worked on the blog and watched soccer.
Our plan was to ride along the Mosel River to Trier, the oldest city in Germany that still has a very large wall built by the Romans, and then ride back to Koblenz, a distance of 400 Kms. We figured it would take us 8 or more days. Maggie came up with the idea to take the train to the starting point of the Mosel bike route at the borders of Germany, France and Luxembourg and ride back to Koblenz and then on to the EuroVelo 15, thus saving us 4+ days of riding the same route twice. We checked train schedules and places to stay and decided to go to the train station first thing in the morning to see if we could get bike reservations. We retired with our fingers crossed.
Sunday, June 26 Koblenz-Nannig
No problem!!!! We took the 9:06 train to Nannig where the locals were having a fish fry (straight out of the Mosel) and wine/ beer fest. Nothing else in the village was open. We were invited to join in, but only bought drinks and shared a table with others. When finished, we rode 8 kms. to Perl where we found a place to stay, dropped our bags, and rode the short distance to the official mile “0” of the Mosel bike route.
We spent the afternoon exploring the town of Schengen which is quite important in the history of the European Union. Schengen was where it all began.
Although not directly related to the EU, there were 2 large pieces of the Berlin wall. We had seen pieces of the wall once before. They are quite moving when one contemplates the long struggle of the German people to unify and the cost in human life that followed its erection.
It is at the border where Germany, Luxembourg and France meet. The French border is empathized by a mini Eiffel Tower that brought a smile to our faces.
There were three artistic towers with EU stars cut into the surface some of which has been filled in with creative plaques depicting scenes emblematic of each member country. Schengen was also having a Mosel fish fry in a huge tent that was set up with a large TV screen to watch the soccer game. We sampled the local beer and wine.
Monday June 27 thru Thursday June 30
Perl to Trier to Bernkastel-Kues to Alf to Treis-Karden …. 5 fabulous days on the Mosel River Route
Each day’s ride was filled with castles, steeples, steep vineyard slopes, beautiful quaint villages and meeting other touring cyclists. Many of our coffee stops were with other couples who were from various countries and touring like us. Most of them had been on many long distance cycling journeys in the past. We enjoyed hopscotching with them every day and stopping to visit once or twice a day. Below a Danish couple whose company we enjoyed a few times. We exchanged photos and e-mail info with people from Denmark, Germany and Belgium, and Switzerland with the hope of meeting them again one day. There were no other Americans and several times we got “ata boys” and “thumbs up” from others when they saw our flag. It rained a couple of nights and threatened part of most days but we didn’t get rained on.
When we came to Cochem, we did the 12 minute walk up a steep slope to the castle and joined the tour.
What a stunning view from the top. It was originally built in the 12th century, but little remains as Louis IXV had it destroyed in the early part of the 18th century. It was rebuilt by a wealthy merchant in the 1800’s as a residence (chateau) then sold by his heirs to the Third Reich in 1942. It’s now owned by the village of Cochem. One piece of furniture dates to the 15th century. After that hike we indulged in a piece of apple strudel with our coffee.
We spent our last night on the Mosel in Tries-Karden a village located on the right side of the river about 45 kms from Koblenz where the Mosel flows into the Rhine. A few feet from our Zimmer sits one of the hundreds of Winestubs along the Mosel. In our continued effort to support the local industry and economy, we wandered over for a glass of local wine. We ate wonderful typical German dinners at their cute restaurant filled with old wine making stuff.
Tomorrow we’ll ride the last 45 Kms of the Mosel to Koblenz and turn north on the Rhine where we left it last Sunday. From there we’ll continue on the #15 EuroVelo Route toward northern Germany and Holland. We were really pleased to have this second journey down the Mosel, a really scenic river that winds a serpentine course for about 250 kms, but whose beginning is less than 100 kms from its end if you were to draw a straight line.
Friday, July 1 Treis Karden-Neuwied
This was our last day on the Mosel. The river continues its serpentine path through the beautiful valley that it created eons ago. The villages get closer together the closer we get to Koblenz. Large bridges for the highway system are becoming more plentiful, but are so big, long and high that one marvels at them.
The slopes on both sides of the river are steep vineyards down to river level.
Each village has the same compliment of attributes which include: church steeple, swans, ducks of different varieties, half timbered buildings, vineyards, bike lanes, beer and wine stubes, a town hall (Rathaus), and souvenir shops, but each of them is unique. There are no two alike and all have as a backdrop the hills and vines that make the Mosel such a special place. We arrived at the end of our 5 days on the river at about noon and had the last picture of us at the confluence with the Rhine.
We found the EuroVelo route #15 without any trouble and rode on another 20 km to Neuwied, a modern town with walking streets too long and wide for a town of this size.