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?