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Posts Tagged ‘Moselle’

Ready-steady-go

One more week to go and we’re off on our first cycle tour of the season! For seven days you will get to enjoy unparalleled romantic river and valley views while whizzing along sophisticated cycle ways joining them all up. Along the Saar and Moselle we’ve got a great selection of World Heritage sites, lifestyle experiences and a bit of history lined up.

Cycling paradise

9054251_origNew Zealand cycling enthusiasts can look forward to Germany’s extensive and well-maintained cycle road network: usually separated lanes with smooth surfaces linking suburbs and small towns, even in most cities one can travel without a worry and enjoy the sights. Even though it does pay to keep an eye out for the traffic when you do have to join it, remember: it’s the other side! The Right side! Follow your guides and you will be fine.

Rheinradweg, Loreleyblick

Rheinradweg, Loreleyblick

But, on the note of cycle ways: at the end of last year the first 5 km section of a cycle-highway was opened in the Ruhr region. A densely populated industrial area, home to various old and new industries and universities, it is planning to use abandoned railway tracks to create a car-free network for cyclists to use. Ultimately it will cover around 100kms of the region and long-term connect to other networks being created throughout Germany like in Munich and Cologne for example.

moselle-cycling-holidaysAlready along the major tourist routes local councils have improved the cycle ways to facilitate greater use by tourists and locals alike. These will be our major means of discovering the hidden treasures of the Saar and Moselle valleys. Wishing our guests good weather and lots of fun for their trip!

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

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Current activities

Koblenz GartenkulturFor the start of our tour in Saarbrücken we had some interesting suggestions of what else to see and explore there while enjoying a bit of spare time. We thought you might be interested to see what is on offer at the other end of the tour. Whether you’re spending an extra day here in Koblenz before joining us on the Rhine and Romans Tour or just killing some time before heading to other destinations, we found a few interesting things to do on 29th and 31st of May 2016.

Gardens that live

Bonsai KoblenzIn 2011 Koblenz hosted the BuGa and developed the motto that inspires its annual art, cultural and horticultural activities, “Koblenzer Gartenkultur”. For the last weekend in May there’s a couple of interesting things happening around the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress: throughout Sunday the local Tai Chi, Qigong and meditation groups have workshops and presentations throughout the day. To complement the Asian topic, the local bonsai club will have a display at the castle and you can find out all the nitty gritty details about this fascinating horticultural hobby.

Foreign shores

James-Webb_Ansicht-von-Ehrenbreitstein_1880_Öl-auf-Leinwand_M1990_1

James Webb: Ansicht von Ehrenbreitstein, 1880

If you’re more inclined to amble amongst artefacts, check out the city’s museum web site, in English! Lots to see and what got my attention was an exhibition titled “Are any British here?” An exhibition of the creative output by numerous British artists who visited the Rhine and Moselle valleys in the 18th and 19th century. The exhibition is at the Mittelrhein Museum, which unfortunately is not open on Mondays, so you might have to stay a day longer?! If not, there is one covering the history of military engineering in Germany or enjoy a guided tour through the local wine and sparkling wine maker cellar Deinhard. Monday seems to be the day-off for most other museums in Koblenz at the moment, so if you want to explore the culture and history you might need to stay for Tuesday as well. Unless of course you’re back on the road on Monday, discovering all about the Rhine and the Romans with our local tour guides.

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

 

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1280px-Reichsburg_CochemCochem celebrates its culture

Once you have emerged from the enchanting castle you will have the opportunity to discover how the locals celebrate their cultural heritage: during the week of the 25th and 29th of May the Mosel Wine Week is being held in Cochem.

The walk around the castle should have built up an appetite and strolling across the market you will be able to sample local food made to perfectly accompany the locally grown and produced wines and sparkling wines. Whether you’ll prefer to sit down at one of the vineyards’ stalls or wander from one to another, you will get a good a sampling of the different wines.

cochem wine weekLocal characters

Every place has their unique set of people that influence the feel and look of a town. In Cochem the local bands – ranging from modern covers to traditional German folk – provide the audio side of it during the festival, while you might be able to spot the Queen of Wine Charlotte I. and her Princess Isabel amongst the stalls and displays. The wine royalty symbolically represent the city and region of Cochem during tourism and other Cochem Majestaeteneconomic presentations, events and fund-raisers nationally and internationally. As ambassadors for a wine growing region, their motto says it best: visit Cochem to sample the care and attention given to the wines that make them so special, because the best place to try something is in its home town!

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

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Early start in Saarbrücken

Congratulations: you’ve decided to join us on our cycle trip along the Saar and Moselle this May and have arrived a day or two early in Saarbrücken. What an excellent opportunity to discover what the locals do on their weekends. As Germany is now well on its way into summer, a lot of outdoor activities are happening around the city. Check out some of the samples we have collated for you for the weekend of the 21st and 22nd  of May 2016.

Markets and other entertainment

Wochenmarkt SaarbrueckenSaturday is THE day to go to a farmers market and within a 3km radius of the city centre you can find three that sell local produce and crafty stuff. But mainly food: fresh fruit and veges, breads and cakes and everything else your palate can imagine. As it would have been in the good old days, usually these market are situated around a local church and you will find one at the Ludwigskirche and Sankt Johann. While you will be going on a guided city tour on Sunday, you might think about going on a boat trip on Saturday: whether just a short trip around the city area or even on a trip to France, have a look at one of the local transport companies’ booklets to get an idea. In the evenings the city has a variety of entertainment on offer as well: the local clubs present an eclectic mix of Oldies to modern pop music, theatres have productions of the Elephant Man, The Little Mermaid and modern dance/ballet from Czechoslovakia.

Museums and open days

640px-BobbycarAn interesting item on this weekend is the open day at one of the local fire brigades and the 4th anniversary of the youth section there. Not only will you be able to have a look at a German fire station, but can watch a Bobby car race there. Kind of like the Jaffa race down Baldwin street in Dunedin but on a kids toy, the Bobby car. If you prefer your entertainment a bit quieter, the local museums can give you plentiful insights into the local history, arts and crafts. A look on the city’s web site could make it easy, except there’s so much to see and so little time. Pick wisely or book a couple of days more and enjoy the sights and events around Saarbrücken at your leisure.

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

 

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How to keep ones family happy

Burg Eltz (10561166416) by Dirk VorderstraßeFor one of our other tours we had already written a little piece about this stunning piece of feudal architecture in the Moselle region. What we didn’t tell you then was the fact that this is a current residence for one of the three family branches that own it. While two parts of the complex are generally open to the public – the third owned by the Kempenich side of the family – can only be viewed at particular times of the year.

Burg Eltz 14b by Evolutione003 - Own workThis makes it one of the oldest castles and for the longest period in the possession of one family. Anyone familiar with the problems of feudal ownership in England will understand the financial burden and commitment this family undertakes to maintain the structural integrity for its own history and for the public.

Allemagne07 08 0406 Burg Eltz by Daniel71953 [1] - Own workHistory can be taught in lots of ways, but there’s nothing like being there in person and getting a personal impression of the living conditions of the rich and the poor in those times. After your stroll around the premises tell us which part of the castle is your favourite: the detailed kitchen, opulent Armoury and Treasury or the courtyard surrounded by 500 years of architectural activity?!

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

 

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Historical meeting place

1280px-Koblenz_im_Buga-Jahr_2011_-_Deutsches_Eck_03Arriving in Koblenz you will see the artificial headland at the confluence of the Moselle and Rhine rivers called the German Corner – ‘Deutsches Eck’. Even though the term “Deutsches Eck” had been in use since 1216 when Archbishop Theoderich von Wied summoned the knights of the Teutonic Order to gift them a church, the associated hospital and some grounds to safeguard local health care, the area referenced by that term now transferred from these grounds to the headland in the 19th century.

Shortly after the death of Wilhelm I. in 1888 many people wanted to have a monument to honour and thank him for the hard-fought unification (three wars in 1864, 1866 and 1871) of Germany. His son chose Koblenz as site in 1891 due to its significance to his father’s and Germany’s history. After expanding the needed area and collecting 1 million Marks (!) through donations, the equestrian sculpture was dedicated in 1897 with his son in attendance.1280px-Deutsches_Eck_LOC

At the end of WWII the monument was destroyed by an artillery shell and the remains were removed and smelted to prevent scavenging. Parts of the figures turned up later and even the head of Wilhelm I, which now is exhibited at the Mittelrhein Museum in Koblenz. The French allies had intended to construct a monument promoting Peace and International Understanding, but the costs were too high and the plans got shelved.

In 1953 it was re-purposed to be a memorial to the German Union. The coat of arms of all the western German Federal States and the missing eastern ones were installed on the pedestal and a flag pole for the German Federal flag installed instead of a central figure.

With the re-unification in 1990 the five new federal states were added to the line-up.

Bring back the old

But, but, there’s a statue, horse, marshal and muse there! Yes indeed! All due to the dedication and financial support of private people again. In 1987 Werner Theisen and his wife Anneliese drew up a legal document pledging their support to the reconstruction of the destroyed monument.

Why? Not sure. It was for his 60th birthday and to commemorate their 30th wedding anniversary, but that still doesn’t quite explain why this couple dedicated such a huge sum of money (3 million Marks) to this particular venture.

As at that time Germany was still divided the offer was rejected as it could send the message that Germany had accepted its divided status. But after the fall of the wall and the official re-unification the politicians changed their tunes and after some tricky ‘gifting’ – meaning changing of financial responsibilities – the statue was finally allowed to be installed.

Rhein in FlammenRemarkably, the couple, believing in their mission, had ordered it already in 1989 and brought to Koblenz in 1992! Due to a different production technique than the original, the pedestal needed to be reinforced more and in September 1993 the statue was finally lifted into its place and inaugurated on the 25th of September that year.

The unification of Germany and its victims are being remembered with three concrete parts of the Berlin Wall which were erected near the monument in 1990.

Today the space is used not only to commemorate important times in Germany’s history, but to celebrate occasions every day. It is used to hold concerts, marathons, exhibitions and is an excellent viewing point for the annual Rhein in Flammen’ fireworks.

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

 

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Tumultuous times for Cochem

Cochem,_MarktThe first recorded name for Cochem is ‘Cuchema’ in a gifting document from 866 AD. Then- and in the following centuries – the city and its surrounding districts changed ownership and allegiances quite frequently. Religion and politics were tightly interwoven during those times and territories given as fiefdoms, which was a revenue option for the owners, rulers or occupants. Trying to come to grips with the historic time line of the city and the castle towering over it and presenting a short overview is proving to be nearly impossible. The castle’s web site has managed to put together a short and succinct summary of the most important facts and figures for those of you who are keen on historical details.

Castle of modern times

cochemThe most important fact to know is that the castle you get to see today is not the one from the 11th and 12th century. That one was destroyed in 1689 by King Louis XIV during the Nine Year’s war. It took nearly 200 years, well really only 180, for the ruins to catch someone’s eye and the ‘new’ castle to be built. In 1868 the new owner Louis Fréderic Jacques Ravené was not interested in a reconstruction in the original Romanesque style, but wanted the ‘modern’ neo-Gothic style for his family’s summer residence! reichsburg_9_by_januaryguest-d3qt99qIn architectural context that was the same time when Schloss Neuschwanstein was conceived and built.

Walking around the beautifully maintained castle you can indulge your fantasy, pretend you’re in a fairy tale again and imagine what it would have been like for the rich and famous to spend time in their ‘holiday bach’!

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

 

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Fairytale beauty awaits you in Beilstein

BeilsteinMoselPanorama1 (2)Cycling along the Moselle you will have seen plenty of picturesque towns and villages by now, but none has the nickname of Sleeping Beauty of the Moselle.800px-Klosterkirche_Beilstein1 Stopping for a rest and refreshments in Beilstein you will quickly understand why. Even though it is really a small village, it was built to present the appearance of a town with all the trimmings: city centre, church and castle (ruins) on top of the nearby hill. Modern day Bielstein looks very much like its 17th and 18th century version and you can take it all in without having to spend days on your feet exploring all the neighbourhoods. 800px-Beilstein_BW_12Looking at the directory of Cultural Monuments for Rhineland Palatinate one can get the impression that the whole village is on the list!

As a summer attraction the village hosts a marionette theatre from Cochem, which performs various fairy tales. Part of the tradition is performing Sleeping Beauty to open and close the festival in recognition of the villages’ nickname.

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

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zell mosel (800x531)Zell and its famous cat

The city Zell has been around since Roman times, ~70AD, distinguishing itself through quiet perseverance in the face of changing rulers throughout the millennia. Until the 19th century when legend has it that in 1863 after an extensive tasting tour some wine merchants could not decide which wine to buy. During a snack break a black cat entered the cellar, sat on a cask and defended it ferociously. The merchants decided that that was the cask to get and bought it. The wine sold so successfully that they bought more of the wines from that particular growing area. Ultimately that region, “Grosslage”, was named after the black cat and a trademark was born.zell cat

Winegrowing – tourism

Both play an important role in the economy of the region, with Riesling wines the dominant variety produced here and the city’s picturesque buildings maintained beautifully to attract visitors. The success of these two is the foundation of the establishment of other industries in the closer region, like plastic manufacturers and craft businesses. We think this is a wonderful little place to discover and if you want to hear someone else’s opinion as well, here’s an article by a fellow Kiwi traveler.

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

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Not just wine

Traben-Trarbach-PanoramaThe idyllic township of Traben-Trarbach can look back on a long recorded history with it first being mentioned in 830AD being gifted to the Münster in Aachen. With all its constituents and surrounding villages! It is also well-known for its thermal spring which has been officially recognized by the state as a therapeutic bath. At 33° Celsius the water comes out of the schistous rock and is used for various health treatments.

1280px-Brückentor_in_Traben-Trarbach_(Ortsteil_Trarbach) (2)In 1898 they built the first bridge over the Moselle south of Koblenz and north of Bernkastel, connecting the two towns of Traben and Trarbach. Unfortunately this was destroyed in the last days of WWII. It was rebuilt in 47/48. Fortunately the original bridge gate was not destroyed and has been kept in excellent condition. The bridge has design elements from the Historism and Art Nouveau periods.

Another first was street lighting: at the end of the 19th century the city – along with a couple of others (Berlin for example) – had installed electric street lamps instead of the customary gas-powered ones.

Row, row, row your boat

1280px-Trarbach_AnlegestelleNonetheless, wine is the major player in this town too and during your boat trip you will be able to admire the richly decorated houses showing off the wealth of the region. As a fire destroyed nearly the whole of Trarbach on 21.7.1857 the town was rebuilt with lots of references to current and past architectural styles, mainly Historicism and Eclecticism.

Local folklore

There’s a famous story about a rich wine grower from Traben. He had a beautiful daughter and wanted her to marry the old captain of a Dutch garrison stationed there. She on the other hand was in love with a young local farmer. They used to meet either at the house of a friend in Kröv or in the old ruins of the Franciscan monastery near Wolf. As the captain found out and told the father about this, they decided to surprise them in the act. But, they didn’t. They waited for hours at the monastery. When they finally decided to leave a storm broke out and they had to stay at the ruins for shelter. The father eventually fell asleep, but the captain didn’t and saw a ghostly procession of monks singing a horrible chant which drove him to run away. In his confusion he ran over a cliff and died. When the father found him the next morning he decided that his daughter could marry the farmer after all. Let’s not stand in the way of true love! By the way, there’s no record of how the marriage went.

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

 

 

 

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