01 June 2009

The Moselle

I had to make a quick business trip to Munich for a meeting on Friday morning, so decided to stick around in Germany for the weekend to do some riding. After the meeting ended in mid-afternoon, I headed to the Chinese Pagoda in the English Gardens for a couple beers, then headed to the train station to catch the train to Heidelberg. Here's an artsy shot of the English Gardens, one of my favorite places in the world:

I didn't really know where I wanted to go, just wanted to ride for awhile, spend the night somewhere, and then head back to Heidelberg Sunday morning, and then to the airport in Frankfurt for the flight back. I made it to Heidelberg Friday evening after a fairly grueling train trip (OK, I was tired!) just in time for some barbeque at Stefan's, it was great, and as usual there was an interesting cast of characters staying there. So we had a few beers and chatted until late...

Anyhoo, I had to decide where to go; I had been leaning toward the Black Forest, where I've never been despite all my time in Germany, but the feedback I got (its for geriatrics...the traffic will be horrible...) didn't do much for me, and a few others, including Stefan, recommended the Moselle valley, with its castles and vineyards, and I was sold! So rather on Saturday morning, May 30, I headed off in that direction, first up along the Rhine (beautiful!) and then around Boppard (?) hung a left over some small mountains and then into the Moselle valley.

I had gotten my GPS sorted while back in Moscow, and was pleased to see that it was fully operational again, which would make my life a little easier...

I don't have a camera mount on my GSA, so couldn't take the cool on the move pictures like on my GS. It's a pity, because this short trip was packed with great views along the river valleys.

Just before turning off the Rhine I stopped for gas, and a German guy and his son in climbing gear came up and started looking at my bike...the father saw all the stickers from around the world and asked if the bike had been in all of those places. He was amazed when I said yes, and then he asked where I lived. When I told him I lived in Moscow and had come to Germany for the weekend for some riding, he said something like "You are very lucky to be able to have a motorcycle here to fly in and ride it, I am a doctor and could not afford that!" People are always envious for the weirdest reasons--I told him that I considered him very fortunate to live in one of the most beautiful areas on Europe, and to be able to climb, etc. whenever they wanted. I would trade in a second, especially if...[CENSORED]...

Anyway, once into the Moselle valley I headed toward Burg Eltz, an old castle that Stefan had recommended as worth a visit, and supposedly the only German castle never to have been conquered and/or sacked. I found it pretty easily, and here are some shots:

It was a pretty cool castle, although jammed with tourists. Also, apparently it negotiated a truce at some point (maybe the Thirty Years War?) did something to reduce its military glory, but still. Also, as you can see it is at the bottom of a valley with high hills around it--obviously the castle and/or its kingdom had become irrelevant by the age of gun powder, because the castle could have been blown to pieces by cannon in the surrounding hills...

Anyway, after a couple hours in the castle I descended back into the Moselle valley and headed west along the river. I hadn't gone very far when I came to Cochem, a fairly large town with lots of hotels and restaurants, and lots and lots of bikes. Cochem is a beautiful town with a striking castle overlooking it. I wanted to relax a bit, so decided to stay in Cochem for the night.

I stopped in front of the Hotel Union, where there was a parking spot on the street, and got a room for 50 EUR. The hotel is slightly seedy but has a pleasant patio/porch overlooking the road and the river. I had a couple of beers to unwind and watch the throngs in the street below.

I got an unpleasant surprise when I went upstairs to change--I hadn't brought any long pants--only my riding pants and shorts! I botched the load plan pretty good this time, but I changed into the shorts and headed out to walk around a bit.

OK, I went to bed early after a few beers and an asparagus dish (tis the season here) and so got up early and headed out. I rode along the Moselle for awhile and then peeled off to the south . I stayed on some really small roads for a few hours, a nice ride, before getting back to Heidelberg about noon.

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