Monday, May 31, 2010

Table for Two with a View

We arrived in Beilstein, Germany around lunch on Thursday. It was definitely the most relaxing stop on our trip to date. With a total population less than 150 residents and a beautiful Mosel River Valley setting (but without a single traffic light, ATM, or grocery store), we spent most of our time enjoying the view with a beer or glass of wine. Our hotel room directly overlooked the river and the countless vineyards that lined the surrounding hills (see picture from our room below)! We quickly discovered, even if we added our ages together, we were still the youngest tourists in the town by a fairly large margin. After Spain’s tradition of late-evening meals, eating dinner between 6 and 8 (when the restaurants were open) each night took a little getting used to and really made us wish we had some snacks for later at night!

On Friday, we spent most of the day driving up and down the Mosel River. Unfortunately our car was a manual this time, making Heather the driver. The roads were extremely winding and our tiny Fiat didn’t have much power. All in all, we got off to a bit of a rocky start. Things didn’t improve much when we finally arrived in Trier, one of the largest cities on the river and the oldest city in Germany (dating back to 16 B.C.). It was impossible to find a parking spot! After driving down a pedestrian filled street (scary), we finally found a place to park and were able to explore some of the Roman ruins. Below is a picture of us in front of the ruins of the Porta Nigra Roman city gate. On the way back to our car (crossing our fingers there would not be a ticket on the windshield) we made a quick stop by Karl Marx’s birthplace and then hit the road.

After a long day of driving, we were ready to get back to Beilstein and enjoy some cold German beer. Unfortunately our GPS had another idea. After taking us completely out of the way, we arrived at the ferry stop on the opposite side of the river from our tiny town – only to be directed by the GPS to take the ferry across (which wasn’t free by the way). We spent the previous day wondering who actually paid to take this joke of a ferry when there were several bridge options. Well at this point, we just wanted to get back to our hotel, so we paid the five euros and drove on. Heather thought the situation was hilarious, but Jonathan was less than amused.

Amy and her friend Kim arrived on Saturday, ready for the full day we planned! Our first stop was at a medieval castle called Burg Eltz. We picked this castle out of the numerous options in this area because it is Rick Steve’s (the Europe travel guru) favorite in all of Europe. The castle was pretty but unfortunately under construction (as many of the “must see” sites have been during our trip). The tour of the interior was also fairly limited and very crowded – not the most impressive site we’ve seen so far.

Luckily our wine tasting in the evening was much more exciting! We all agreed that our tasting at the H.H. Hieronimi Winery in the neighboring town of Cochem was the best any of us had ever been to – and this was an experienced group! The winery is still family owned and currently the sixth generation is running operations. Below is a series of pictures with us inspecting the color and smell of the wines, and then joining in a “cheers” before tasting. The Mosel River Valley is known for their Riesling wines, Amy’s favorite, so of course we all had to pick up a few bottles (see final picture below). Hopefully Amy made it back on the plane with all of hers!

Sunday was Happy Mosel Day in the Mosel River Valley. Once a year, they close the roads on both sides of the river to all traffic except bikers and pedestrians – and the occasional rollerblader. Each town sets up tents with local food, beer, and wine. We spent most of the day walking between the towns and dodging several rain showers. The highlight was a stop we made for some really delicious strawberry wine. The vineyard owner was extremely friendly, and not very busy, so he gave us a quick tour of his wine cellar and “estate.” He even gave us each a bottle of free jam when we left. Germans are so friendly!

Thanks for meeting us Amy! We had a great time! Today we are on our way to Munich and Jonathan can’t wait to explore the beer gardens!

Beer List:
• Erdinger Weissbier Dunkel (a German Dunkelweizen)
• Erdinger Weissbier Kristallklar (a German Kristalweizen)
• Gemuender Kroenes Eifeler Landbier (a German Kellerbier)
• Bitburger Premium Pils (a German Pilsener)

1 comment:

  1. Wait a minute, wait a minute. Jonathan, You can't drive a stick????? And Heather can't ride a bike??? Good thing you two have each other.....You can count on hearing about this again in the future. LOL. Looking forward to seeing you guys soon! Chris