Adventures of Tipsy Cave People in Cochem on the Moselle

View of Cochem and the Moselle from Reichsburg Castle. Photo by Andreas Muenchow
View of Cochem and the Moselle from Reichsburg Castle. Photo by Andreas Muenchow

We arrived in Cochem as part of Andreas’ bucket list wish to explore wine growers on the Moselle River. I say part of because his initial wish was to bike along the river stopping in the small towns for wine as he wished. We compromised by staying in a central location with day trips. We chose a lovely hotel/ home run by the super bubbly Ute. She even picked us up from the train station.

Reichsburg Castle Cochem Germany. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Reichsburg Castle Cochem Germany. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Our daily German breakfast in Ute's living room. She insisted that we pack any extra food that we couldn't eat at breakfast for our travels. Photo by Andreas Muenchow
Our daily German breakfast in Ute’s living room. She insisted that we pack any extra food that we couldn’t eat at breakfast for our travels. Photo by Andreas Muenchow

The hotel was a few blocks from the Reichsburg Castle and we had a wonderful view of it lit up at night from our balcony.

2018’s summer heat wave wasn’t a fluke, we endured temperatures in the mid-nineties along the Moselle River last week (June 2019). Ninety plus degrees in the US is uncomfortable, but bearable with fans and A/C. Germany hasn’t had as much need for those things yet. Also, some here feel that air-conditioning will make you sick. We adapted following the local example of only opening the windows at night and blocking the sun with curtains. Like other traveler’s though, this was our week to explore the area. Our shared discomfort gave us something to small talk about and we met a lot of friendly people including other Americans.

Andreas enjoying the late evening (9:45pm) breezes on our balcony while watching women's World Cup soccer. The castle is up the hill to the right. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas enjoying the cooler late evening (9:45pm) breezes on our balcony while watching women’s World Cup soccer. The castle is up the hill to the right. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Our first day started with lunch with wine (there’s a theme here) where we were seated with a nice couple from Germany and Thailand who slowly warmed up to us. Next, we hiked our tipsy selves up the hill to the castle for amazing views of Cochem. We didn’t see the inside of the castle this trip. We ended the day at a wine seller in the cellar. Not just a cellar, the back of the room was carved into the stone in the hillside. Very old, cool place with a wonderful selection of wine grown on the side of a mountain a few bends away in the river.

Andreas with his first taste of what became our favorite wine a 2015 Neefer Frauenberg Riesling. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas with his first taste of what became our favorite wine a 2015 Neefer Frauenberg Riesling-Spatlese. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

On the second day, with the temperature climbing, we took the train to Moselkern to hike to Burg Eltz castle tucked into the wooded mountains. It was an eight-mile hike in the heat, but most of it was shaded by trees.

In Moselkern walking to the hiking path that leads to Burg Eltz Castle. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
In Moselkern walking to the hiking path that leads to Burg Eltz Castle. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Eltz Castle from the hiking path. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Eltz Castle from the hiking path. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

The castle is one of the most interesting I’ve visited. It’s been in the same family for 800 years (33 generations) and the current generation still lives there. This means that it’s been kept up and a lot of the rooms are still decorated as they’ve been for hundreds of years.

This was the writing room off of the main bedroom in part of the castle. The photo is taken from a glossy postcard because photos are not allowed. I told Andreas I was going to paint our house like this. He said, "Knock yourself out, baby." Only a few rooms that we saw were painted this way.
This was the writing room off of the main bedroom in part of the castle. The photo is taken from a glossy postcard because photos are not allowed. I told Andreas I was going to paint our house like this. He said, “Knock yourself out, baby.” Only a few rooms that we saw were painted this way.
This photo taken from a postcard is of our favorite painting in the Castle. It's by Michael Pacher who was born in 1435. He was one of the first painters of his time to master perspective. He couldn't read or write so this book he painted is full of gibberish.
This photo taken from a postcard is of our favorite painting in the Castle. It’s by Michael Pacher who was born in 1435. He was one of the first painters of his time to master perspective. He couldn’t read or write so this book he painted is full of gibberish.

There are also treasury rooms in the lower levels where you can see their finer trinkets, jewels and weapons. Thanks to Andreas’ brother Burkhard we knew to ask for a tour in English. It may be my favorite castle because I was able to learn more through the English tour..

Interior courtyard at Eltz Castle. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Interior courtyard at Eltz Castle. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Back in Cochem it was cold showers and a long nap then back to the cellar cave for Riesling and a small dinner. At the castle we met a nice couple from Berkeley, California and we recommended our wine find. We were happy to see them sitting in the cave when we arrived where they had befriended a young traveling German couple. We had a nice time comparing travel notes and complaining about the heat.

Alte Gutsschanke otherwise known to us as the cave. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Alte Gutsschanke otherwise known to us as the cave. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

On our last day Andreas and I had blisters on our feet and my ankle was mysteriously swollen so, we opted for a boat to take us to our next destination along the river. A highlight of the trip for me. I loved seeing the towns along the water and the herons and swans.

Cochem from the boat. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Cochem from the boat. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Waiting for on the boat for the water to rise in the lock so we can continue on the river. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Waiting for on the boat for the water to rise in the lock so we can continue on the river. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Beilstein from the boat. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Beilstein from the boat. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

We arrived in Beilstein on the Moselle which began around AD 800. In 1309 a Jewish community was founded and their graveyard still exists on the mountain above the city. Andreas found it on his hike past the castle. The last burial stone is dated 1938 which is the year of the Kristallnacht that marks the onset of what became the holocaust. Most people of the Jewish faith from this town perished on the killing fields of Poland and Ukraine. Very few escaped in time to America to remember Jewish life on the Moselle River for a history commissioned in 1996 by the local county government.

A stone in the Jewish graveyard above town. Photo by Andreas Muenchow.
A stone in the Jewish graveyard above town. Photo by Andreas Muenchow.
View of Beilstein and St. Joseph's Church from the ruins of Castle Metternich. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
View of Beilstein and St. Joseph’s Church from the ruins of Castle Metternich. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The Moselle from the ruins of Castle Metternich. The lock we sailed through is in the distance. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The Moselle from the ruins of Castle Metternich. The lock we sailed through is in the distance. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Andreas and I hiked up the hill to the ruined castle to see the views of the river and the town. It was pretty spectacular. I spent an hour there in the shade watching the ships come and go.

The view on the other side of the castle with Andreas standing by the ruin. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The view on the other side of the castle with Andreas standing by the ruin. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

There was a little café in front of the church where Andreas tried another local Riesling, and we both had cake. Then the boat ride back to Cochem, cold showers and a nap until the heat abated a little.

Inside St. Joseph's Catholic Church and Carmelite Monestery. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Inside St. Joseph’s Catholic Church and Carmelite Monestery. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

We considered trying a different restaurant for dinner but didn’t get far, and returned to the cave. The young German couple that we met the night before returned as well. This night we had a nice conversation with the owner, Arthur. We bought four bottles of our favorite wines that, it turned out, all came from the same steep slope called Neefer Frauenberg.

Last night at our cool cave. This was our typical dinner of a meat or cheese board with bread and sometimes a little soup. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Last night at our cool cave. This was our typical dinner of a meat or cheese board with bread and sometimes a little soup. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

We purposely didn’t explore too much in Cochem because we hope to return again. It’s a beautiful, friendly place. Have you been there?

 

Early Summertime in Diez Germany

Diez metamorphosed from a blah German caterpillar in the winter to a shining, sunny butterfly in summer. We’ve traveled there twice in the winter months, once in 2017 at Christmas and recently 2019 in February. We had a fun time with Andreas’ brother and sister-in-law, but the town itself was quiet. Come summertime it now lights up with al fresco eating and drinking, food trucks, a water feature following the street that I earlier mistook as a giant gutter, flowers everywhere and general feeling of gregariousness. Tourists are seen trying to drive the wrong way on tiny streets, and long-distance hikers and bicyclists pass through.

At the beer garden in Limburg. From left to right: Anke, Mark, Andreas, Dragonfly and Burkhard. Photo by Carina Schmidt-Muenchow
At the beer garden in Diez. From left to right: Anke, Mark, Andreas, Dragonfly and Burkhard. Photo by Carina Schmidt-Muenchow

Burkhard and Carina picked us up from the train station and took us to a hidden beer garden in Diez where friends were holding a table for us. Our waiter, strangely enough, was from Germantown, Pennsylvania (the dodgy end) and was happy to speak English. I ordered my new favorite German restaurant food, Kartoffelpuffer mit lachs.

Carina (right) from Planet Eisenbach and Alien friend
Carina (right) from Planet Eisenbach and Alien friend

After dinner and drinks, we returned quickly to their home to transform ourselves into Aliens and then drove close to the Diez/ Limburg border for a punk rock, alien party complete with spaceship and burning alien on the fire pit.

Burning the Alien and his ship at Kalkwerk. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Burning the Alien and his ship at Kalkwerk. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Aliens like punk rock. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Aliens like punk rock. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

The party was held at Kalkwerk which is a former lime/chalk? mine transformed into art studios, recording studios and band practice space, a concert venue with a stage and like Diez has metamorphosing capabilities. If this place had existed in my life as a young person I would have moved in and never left.

The Alien scene at Kalkwerk. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The Alien scene at Kalkwerk. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
I spy with my third eye.....
I spy with my third eye…..

The next day found us busy preparing for a dinner with Burkhard and Carina’s friends. Carina and I did some shopping including a visit to the Turkish butcher while Andreas weeded part of the back yard and expressed for maybe the first time this year that he was homesick for his garden in Delaware. Burkhard readied the tables, chairs and grill. Carina made delicious salads that I’m hoping to get recipes for and Burkhard grilled lamb and chicken from the butchers. One of the best dinners I’ve had in Germany. Also, great company.

At the butchers with Carina. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
At the butchers with Carina. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Dinner in the rose garden. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Dinner in the rose garden. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Burkhard cooking dinner. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Burkhard cooking dinner. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Prost! to good health and a happy summer. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Prost! to good health and a happy summer. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

On Sunday Andreas was interested in a long hike in the Jammertal Valley (valley of misery) along the Lahn River.

Hiking in the beautiful Jammertal Valley with Andreas and Burkhard. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Hiking in the beautiful Jammertal Valley with Andreas and Burkhard. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

The rest of us not so much. Burkhard and I walked with him for a while and then turned back and drove around the surrounding villages. We also visited the Schaumburg Castle that was closed for the day.

Schaumburg Castle. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Schaumburg Castle. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The origins of the castle date back to 915 and it was first mentioned around 1197. Burkard and I found a more modern door walking around the outside.
The origins of the castle date back to 915 and it was first mentioned around 1197. Burkard and I found a more modern door walking around the outside.
Schaumburg Castle. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Schaumburg Castle. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

The castle site (not in the castle) is also where Mother Meera lives. “Mother Meera is the embodiment of the Divine Feminine, the Divine Mother on earth.”-from her website. Many people have visited her including a few of the Beatles. I hope to visit one day as well.

Carina in the garden with the Queen's drink. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Carina in the garden with the Queen’s drink. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

From the castle we returned to Diez for some ice cream and then back to Burkard’s home where Carina made me the Queen’s drink which was fancy and delicious and we waited for Andreas to return on the train.

The Queen's drink, perfect for summer. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The Queen’s drink, perfect for summer. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

He arrived an hour or so later after hiking nine miles through the woods happy and tired with blisters on his feet, (yes, he walked in his Birkenstocks) and wine and liverwurst in his belly.

Andreas on the Jammertal Valley trail. Photo by some nice ladies on the trail.
Andreas on the Jammertal Valley trail. Photo by some nice ladies on the trail.

We had a dinner of leftovers with the neighbor’s little boy who invited himself over, and later drinks with the neighbors who popped through the garden hedge.

Happy in a garden. Thank you Burkhard and Carina for a wonderful, relaxing weekend. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Life  is a blue bowl of cherries in a beautiful garden. Thank you Burkhard and Carina for a wonderful, relaxing weekend. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

When on earlier visits I had the Specials song Ghost Town in my head walking around town I now saw Diez with new eyes as a fun, vibrant neighborhood. Amazing what a little sun and warm weather can do.

No Groundhog Day in Goslar

Goslar, Germany. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Goslar, Germany. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

End of winter blues, my solitary studio routine, and homesickness were getting me down last week. I mentioned to Andreas that my routine was beginning to feel like Groundhog Day  the movie in its predictability. So, Andreas suggested a weekend getaway to somewhere new. Goslar, slightly north of center in Germany was chosen. I like older German architecture and he likes hiking and geocaching thus Goslar, a UNESCO World Heritage site on the edge of the Harz Mountains was chosen. Goslar is one of the top 10 towns in Germany that wasn’t bombed during WWII.

We spent two days in the town mostly walking here and there looking for geocaches and cool things to photograph. It’s a wonderful place for a weekend getaway.

Andreas loves tea time with cake. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas loves tea time with cake. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
A river runs through it.
A river runs through it.
Downspout art. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Downspout art. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

20190323_150249 (2)

IMG_6221 (2)

Our Hotel. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Our hotel. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
We got a surprise room upgrade to a two story suite with a kitchen.
We got a surprise room upgrade to a two story suite with a kitchen.
Andreas on a garden wall behind the palace. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas on a garden wall behind the Imperial Palace. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The view of Goslar from the top of our trail on the mountain. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The view of Goslar from the end of our trail on the mountain. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas on the edge and a beautiful view. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas on the edge with a beautiful view. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Dragonfly away from the edge and ready to go back to town. Photo by Andreas Muenchow
Dragonfly away from the edge and ready to go back to town. Photo by Andreas Muenchow
Oh look, a restaurant half way down the mountain! Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Oh look, a restaurant half way down the mountain! Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Hang glider runway. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Hang glider runway. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Hang gliders
Hang gliders
There's a geocache hiding in here somewhere.
There’s a geocache hiding in here somewhere.
Artwork by Botero! Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Artwork by Botero! Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Traveling south and inland we were happy to see signs of spring arriving. Flowers, flowering trees and some sunshine. I’m looking forward to warmer weather.