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Posts Tagged ‘Saar’

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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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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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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Seasonal idiosyncrasy

StrausswirtschaftAs Kiwis we all recognise the PYO signs on the side of the road and know what the term honesty box implies. But did you know that in some parts of Germany one can buy wine and something to eat in a not-licensed premise?! Like the pop-up shops in cities, during summertime a range of signs pop up at the side of the road, indicating that HERE you can consume locally produced and made wine and other regional delicacies. Depending on the region it can be a broom, a brightly coloured flower bouquet or a stylised hedge. Which are all regional terms for this particular enterprise: a Strauss– (Bouquet), Besen– (Broom) or Heckenwirtschaft (Hedge inn).1280px-Heckenwirtschaft-01

Open for business: part time only

Each state in Germany has its own detailed regulations regarding this particular trade, but they all have a few points in common: only during 4 months of the year, you can have two opening times during the day, minimum of hygiene, no other alcohol to be sold – except home-made spirits(!) – and only very basic simple food. Like the Flammkuchen for example, a delicious Alsatian kind of pizza.1280px-Tarte_flambée_alsacienne_514471722

Due to its seasonal character, the range of locations where the wine is sold vary greatly. In the olden days it was quite common for the winemaker to just clear part of his house to accommodate the paying guests or just add a few hay bales to the courtyard! Others built little stalls with walls that would open to serve the general public. Either way, they are an interesting display of the commercial habits of the wine growers in Germany’s wine growing regions. And a unique way to sample local wines and cuisine!

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

 

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From heavy industry to romantic nature

teaser__74_75a_Blick-auf-die-Saarschleife-von-der-Cloef_-Mettlach_Orscholz_300x200Once we’ve climbed down the furnaces of the Völklinger Hütte we continue on our journey along the Saar. The well laid-out cycle paths lead us to the famous Saarschleife, the spot where a few hundred million years ago the river decided to make a detour and created this stunning display. The river valley has existed for over 350 Million years, but it has been a tourist attraction for only the past 170 years! The loop can be best viewed from The Cloef, a cliff formation overlooking the river at the center of the loop. Once we’ve parked the bikes, we’ll go on a hike up to get a better view from the top.

Romanticism and travelling

1200px-Saarschleife_HDREven though the loop itself might not have found its way into a famous painting, it had caught Friedrich Wilhelm IV’s eye during his travels in 1839 as the crown prince. In view of a possible visit to the nearby village of Orscholz, dignitaries decided a major upgrade of the paths and fortification of the viewing platform was required. Despite some local opposition – mainly from a landowner who didn’t want to give up part of his forest – the viewing platform, a pavilion with a mosaic ( donated by one of the founders of Villeroy& Boch) and a sandstone table (donated by the local castle owner Johann Baptist de Musiel) were ready for the monarch for his visit in 1856.

Modern appeal

As the tourists kept coming in larger and larger numbers after the Royals’ visit, it was easier for the councils to release funds for the repairs and upgrades required. As times and tastes have changed, the design of the original small viewing platform has undergone a huge transformation, making it a modern architecturally interesting site as well. As throughout the decades up to the present the Cloef has proven to be a magical attraction for artists and nature lovers  we hope you will enjoy it too.

„2011-07-23-Atrium“ von Thomas Johannes - Eigenes Werk. Lizenziert unter CC BY-SA 3.0 über Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:2011-07-23-Atrium.jpg#/media/File:2011-07-23-Atrium.jpg

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

 

 

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Völklinger Hütte

Our next stop on our tour along the Saar river is the UNESCO World Heritage Site Völklinger Hütte, an anchor point of the European Route of Industrial Heritage denoting its historical importance and attractiveness to visitors. The guided tour will explain in detail the workings of the ironworks and the relevance to local and national economics.

But for those of you who cannot wait for the tour, I can highly recommend the web site which gives detailed information about the history of the ironworks, the founding family and its conversion into a modern learning and entertainment space.1200px-VH_außen_pano

Völklingen

One aspect that might not be obvious to the uninitiated is the fact that the area around Völklingen has been an important trading and industry site as early as the 6th century.

The fertile meadows between the rivers Rossel and Köllerbach flowing into the Saar have meant that the area had been populated since Celtic times. As the villages grew and trade along the Saar flourished, its relevance for local and regional administrations increased as well.

In the 16th century iron and coal finds in the area led to the construction of the oldest and largest ironworks of the Saarland in Geislautern in 1572. Geislautern is now part of Völklingen and right opposite the famous ironworks on the other side of the Saar.

Even though the works in Geislautern were closed in 1884, new technology developments and innovative thinking were influential in the establishment and success of the Völklinger Hütte, the “Röchling’schen Eisen- und Stahlwerke” by Carl Röchling in the late 1880’s. The works were active until the 1970’s when the world wide steel crisis required major restructuring of the industry which ultimately led to its closure in 1986.

A walk through time1280px-Völklingen_Ironworks_by_night

To understand the importance of the industry and this particular steel works, one has to remember that the guided tour and public area covers ‘only’ 7.46 hectare of the original area of the Saarstahl AG (260 hectares), which officially originated after the steel crisis in 1986, but through its individual components goes back to the beginnings of the steel industry in the region. Be amazed by the sheer size of the site and enjoy the various cultural exhibitions during your visit here.

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

 

 

 

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