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Week One: The Mosel and The Harz

Thursday, Nov. 6
Well, this trip didn't exactly have an auspicious start. The flight from Frankfurt was late getting into Denver, so we left around 6:30 instead of 5:15. We made up some of that time getting to Frankfurt, but we were still 45 min to an hour late, exacerbated by having to deplane on the tarmac and bus into the terminal. I was sure glad I didn't have a non-refundable Dauer-Spezial-Ticket for the train I wanted, because I wouldn't have made it.

Other than the late flight, everything else went fine, and I am here in Treis-Karden for the night. Tomorrow morning I will go by train and bus to Bernkastel-Kues and, in the afternoon, to Zell, both famous wine towns.

Friday, Nov. 7 - Treis-Karden on the Mosel
It's 12:30 AM. Can't sleep, so I'm writing.

I'm hungry. I had something to eat around 18:00 (just before noon, Denver time), but now it's about 4:30 Denver time, and I'm hungry.

Don't you just love jetlag?!

My lunch in BernkastelZell from Mosel bridge
This morning, after finally getting some sleep, I traveled by train to Wittlich, took the bus to Bernkastel-Kues and back, then the train to Bullay and the bus to Zell and back. Lastly I returned with the train to Treis-Karden - all this for an €18 Rhineland-Pfalz-Ticket.

I got involved this morning in a conversation with my host, missed the 8:49 train, and had to take the next one. The bad news: I was an hour and a half later than planned into Berkastel. The good news: It saved me the €4,60 I would have had to pay for a point-point from K-T to Bullay before 9 AM with the RL-P-Ticket.

I had a great lunch in Berkastel - a piece of Schnitzel on toast with white asparagus strips and mushrooms on top, baked over with cheese, and a leaf salad on the plate with it. Yum!

I also got to try a few different wines. In addition to the Rieslings I have had at every meal so far (except breakfast), I had a Rivaner. It's kind of like a Riesling except, IMHO, not as good. I also had a glass of Beerenauslese from the Doktorberg. Beerenauslese is wine from a grape left on the vine until the sugar content is very high. I don't normally like sweet wine, but this was very good - and, at €3,90 for a 1.6oz glass, rather expensive.

Tonight with dinner I had Zeller Schwarzkatz. Of course, that is just a Riesling, but, since I was in Zell, I felt it appropriate.

The towns, themselves, are very cute, but of the two, I think I liked Zell the best. Zell spreads out along the bank of the Mosel. There is a narrow river front park, a road, and, most of the way, only one row of houses backed up to the steep hillside behind them. In a part of the town that is a little wider, there are two streets, the highway along the river and the other road, which has been turned into a pedestrian mall (Fußganger Zone), filled with little shops, restaurants, and accommodations.

Saturday, Nov. 8
Another great day weatherwise. I heard it raining on the roof in the wee hours of the morning, and it was overcast in the morning, but it cleared up nicely.

ReichsburgCochem from Reichsburg
I took the train just to Cochem today. There I went up to the Reichsburg, the castle above Cochem, and took the tour. The close up view of the Reichsburg is nice, but the castle tour was dissapointing. The castle was destroyed in the 17th century. When it was rebuilt by a Berlin merchant in the 19th century, the interior was as a chateau.

I got to have an actual wine tasting today. There were four glasses with wine in them, but probably not a full glass combined. They were all Rieslings, but different enough in taste (year, sugar content, flavor) to compare.

Sunday, Nov. 9
BeilsteinMitternich castle ruinsBeilstein Monestary
Today I went to Beilstein. Because if was Sunday, and there were fewer buses than on the weekdays, I had to spend 4 hours (9:40-13:45) in Beilstein. That was either too much time or too little town. Beilstein is really tiny. I quickly ran out of things to do. And, it was raining.

There is a ruined castle, Mitternich, above the town. I walked up to it (in the rain), but I could only see it from outside the fence - they don't run tours from Nov to Easter.

Small as Beilstein is, they have a huge monestary. I spent some time in the church just to stay out of the rain.

I also spent a lot of time in a little cafe. When I first arrived, I went directly there to get a Kännchen of coffee, because I was cold. They were sort of open, but I was their first customer, I think. I got to drink most of my coffee alone, but then a tour ship docked and suddenly there were 30 or 40 loud, boisterous people in the place, so I quickly finished my coffee and left. That's when I walked up to the castle ruins.

After the castle, I went back to the same cafe for lunch (goulash soup and tea), and to dry out. Later I found another cafe, but after fifteen minutes no one had waited on me so I left to catch my bus back to Cochem. At least it kept me out of the rain for 15 minutes.

VRM (Verkehrsverbund-Rhein-Neckar), the local transit district, shows the round trip by trainand bus to Beilstein via Cochem as €9,20, but when I entered the destination at the Treis-Karden Bahnhof it sold me the ticket for only €5,80. However, the bus driver and the conductor all accepted the ticket so it was fine with me.

It's about 16:00 (4:00 PM), and I am back at my hotel, drying out and, of course, updating my report. Tomorrow I travel all day with the train, from Tries-Karden to Cochem to Cologne. I plan to spend a couple of hours in Cologne for lunch and seeing the cathedral. Then it's on to Bad Harzburg by way of Hannover. From Bad Harzburg I'll take the bus to Braunlage. It will be a long day. I might not to get back to this website for a while.

Monday, Nov. 10
<----Köln Cathedral---->
Right now I am on my way to the Harz. I left Cochem this morning on an Intercity (IC) train to Köln. I stopped for two hour in Köln for lunch and to see the cathedral (Ho-hum).

I am now on an ICE headed for Hannover. I hope we get to Hannover on time. At one time we were 9 minutes late; when we got to Hamm, we were 7 minutes late. There was almost no one on the platform, and they all got on right away. A few people were at the door ready to get off when we stopped. They could have left after a few minutes but they just sat there with the doors closed for 2-3 minutes, as if they wanted to remain late. We are not only 6 minutes late, but it could have been 3.

Tuesday, Nov. 11, Braunlage, Im Harz
Elfter im Elften. The eleventh day of the eleventh month. In Bavaria the start of Fasching, their version of Mardi Gras. Also, I think, St. Martin's day all over Europe.

After the rigors of three straight days of touring on the Mosel and yesterday's travel, I think I need a day of relaxation. I was going to go up to the towns of Goslar and Wernigerode today, but instead I am just going to stay in town, at least for the morning. Maybe later today I'll take the bus to a neighboring town.

Braunlage, and the rest of the Harz, is sure a far cry from the rest of northern Germany. It's definitely high. Getting here from Bad Harzburg was a lot like going up Mt. Vernon canyon from Golden - 1000 ft in just a few miles. And it is very wooded with pine trees. (Harz means "resin", in German).

In Treis-Karden I ate breakfast alone every morning. One night there was another couple in the house, but they got up late, so I was alone in the breakfast room. Right now, here in Altes Forsthaus, there are perhaps a dozen or so others in the room with me. I love the way Germans greet each other at breakfast with "Morgen" (good morning). Even though we are all stranger, each person, when he/she enters the room, says, "Morgen", and everyone returns the greeting.

Wednesday, Nov.12
Today is the halfway point of my trip. It's hard to believe time has passed so quickly.

The weather forecast for today is for cloudy, no rain. I think I'll take the local bus to some of the surrounding towns. I have to take some pictures today. This place is beautiful.

Except for the first night, when I checked in, no one has spoken English to me the whole time. The woman on the desk Monday tried a little but has since given up. The man at the desk during the day probably speaks English, but I haven't met him yet.

After seeing the towns of St. Andreasberg, Altenau, and Clausthal-Zellerfeld today, I am glad I am staying in Braubach. Altenau and Clausthal-Zellerfeld are nothing special. They are bigger than Braunlage, but lack the charm. Braunlage is definitely the place to be.

I wish someone here spoke "Geek". When I checked in, the Wifi was working great - 5 bars. Now suddenly it is almost non-existant in the Gästehaus where I am staying and low in the restaurant. I asked the woman at the desk tonight if she knew where the router is (actually I used "radio wave sender" - I'm not sure router translates). She has no idea. I left a note for her boss for tomorrow; hopefully he will know. Maybe the antenna has just been pushed down. Some workmen have put up metal scaffolding in front of the Gästehaus, but that shouldn't affect reception in the restaurant.

My report continues with Week two.