Before I left for this cruise, for some reason I thought that we were going to be sailing on the "Moselle" river, which was different (somehow) than the famous Mosel river valley. Yeah- they're the same thing, silly me!! Mosel is German, Moselle is French, but they're one and the same. HEH.
So, at some point after bed in Koblenz, we hung a left and headed down this super quaint, smaller river. I took the morning to take care of some work and laundry in my cabin, but with the window, excuse me "balcony" door, wide open in order to still take in this just LOVELY countryside. I think it's funny because the river cruise lines all use the size of their door to the outside and/or balcony as competition points, but really - I was mostly up on one of the decks, not in my room, so it doesn't matter as much as they like to convince you, though they are of course super nice features! As an fyi, I was on the 2nd (middle) deck in the back of the boat. Here's what my view was like for much of the morning:
It's MUCH quieter than the busy Rhine, with only a few locks & boats, tons and tons of vineyards clinging to the steeper hillsides, and smaller towns. We also, finally, had a picture-perfect weather day - not too hot, no wind, not a cloud in the sky. Many spent the morning floating along up on the top deck, listening to more commentary (this time from the lovely Anke, our Dutch tour guide). We had a big brunch on board as we arrived into Cochem, which would be our home base for the rest of the day. It is ADORABLE (something that I think you could say about most towns on the Mosel). We started with a walking tour around town, again with truly entertaining and excellent local guides. It was the first place where we saw really high flood lines marked on certain buildings, and our first GNOME sighting! (Apologies, the garden was actually high on a hill, and I'm short, so it's not the best pic...) Both yesterday and this day we'd passed by multiple river-side campgrounds and were educated not only on the passion for garden gnomes, but also an apparently fervent group of gnome freedom fighters. I'm telling you - the things you learn from guides are not just boring history stats!! Here are some more shots from the morning and around town:
But really, the town is just dominated by it's own hilltop castle - Reichsburg. This one can only be toured with private tours, so it's kind of cool that we were basically on our own in each of the rooms. Like so many, this is another one that was destroyed by Louis XIV and then rebuilt by a wealthy business man in the late 1800's. BUT - this one does have an authentic tower, AND the interior is super cool - full of amazing suits of armor, ridiculously cool ceilings, and lovely interiors. The views, though, my goodness. No WONDER people wanted to live in these things. Once again- most of my interior pics are vertical, and therefore don't translate here, but hopefully you get the idea:
After this wonderful tour, we then headed over to a local winery - another family-run business with an adorable German proprietor who regaled us with lots of stories about things he was changing, much to the chagrin of his pop. If I haven't yet exclaimed over the deliciousness of German wine, and specifically Riesling, well - let me do that here. I remember back in the day when if you ordered a Riesling you were practically laughed at, or prepared for dessert at least. I, being a bit of a wino, have of course already discovered the dry Riesling, and THAT is what you basically get over there. Nothing cloying or sweet, instead smooth & clean - SO SO GOOD. Plus, one of the new products at this particular winery is this super delicious red peach liqueur, which they mix with their version of champagne for the best darn Bellini-type beverage I've ever had. I think everyone in the group bought the little mini-bottle of that stuff for all of 2 euro or something. Super charming spot, again- only visited by Tauck if I'm not mistaken.
We set sail after the tasting for a delicious dinner on board in order to reach our destination for the next two nights - Bernkastel. Now, if we all thought Cochem was adorable (which is was!), we didn't know what we had in store. Bernkastel is basically just another adorable village, yes, with vineyards and a hill-top ruin of a castle, but OH MY GOODNESS. Luckily, our excursion for the next day, over to Luxembourg, allowed us enough time to get to also explore Bernkastel. I'm going to leave that visit to Luxembourg for the next post, so I'll just keep this one to the adorable villages of the Mosel. SO- after our excursion, our guides took those that were interested on a short little walking tour of this precious half-timbered town. Then, some of us more "active" folks took the hike up the hill to the ruined castle, which - in this case - really IS just a ruin, with nothing much to recommend it. HA - KIDDING. The building itself isn't much (they are working on adding/restoring part of it to be a restaurant I think), but again - the VIEWS! Insanely gorgeous. Plus, there is a gorgeous little brewery half way down that we stopped at for a complimentary glass of wine (this IS wine country, after all) to refresh ourselves. I then met back up with my Mom & Aunt and some of our other intrepid friends for a welcome dinner OFF the boat. It's not that the food on board wasn't good - it was! - but night after night of 3 to 4 course meals was getting a little old. The little Italian spot we stopped at for pastas & pizzas was a welcome change! So- without further ado: pics of Bernkastel!
And with that, I'll conclude this post and leave you waiting for reports on our two excursions out of Bernkastel, to Luxembourg and Trier, AND the very special celebration of Tauck's 90th birthday.