July 20, 2018 – July 22, 2018
Recently, Tyler and I learned that Riesling wine region in Germany is just a short 3.5 hour drive from Amsterdam. Although the sweet, white wine is not my typical drink of choice, I love a good road trip and a good wine country. Friday after work, we hopped in a car with our good friends Shannon and Noah and set off for Cochem, Germany.
The road trip went by pretty quickly, especially since a good portion was spent on the Autobahn where speed limits do not apply. In fact, Tyler was able to shave about 15 minutes off our Google Maps suggested arrival time by practicing
recklessly fast strategic and skillful driving.
The town of Cochem is nestled at the bottom of a long and windy road down a steep hill. Upon our 10:30pm arrival, we pulled into the first parking garage we could find and walked a few blocks to our hotel in the middle of the city center, Hotel am Markt. It was a very cute, quaint boutique hotel overlooking the colorful buildings in the markt. My only complaint is the lack of AC and the unusually high temperatures, but that’s just kind of the way things have been in Europe the past few weeks.
On the way to Cochem, we speculated that the tiny town would be dead when we arrived, but we were wrong, so we headed out for a beverage. We found a cute terrace crawling with locals that was unfortunately closing. The waiter pointed us in the direction of another place that was open, and when we inevitably got lost along the way we ended up running into her again and she escorted us to ensure that we made it this time.
We enjoyed our first bottle of Riesling overlooking the beautiful Moselle river on the terrace of Zum Dudelsack. Because we were the only patrons at the restaurant, after enjoying the views we went in search of a more happening atmosphere. We settled on an Irish pub with some Guinness, the complete opposite of a Riesling.
The town of Cochem is really small and can be explored in just a few hours, so on Saturday we took a scenic hour long boat ride down the Moselle River to another small town called Beilstein. Because of a parking mishap, we had to run to the boat to catch it in time since the next one wouldn’t be for 2 hours which would throw off our schedule.
The boat was pretty full when we got on so we asked an old man sitting alone if we could sit with him. He said yes, and we got to know him over the course of the hour. He was from Minnesota and gave us some good recommendations for things to do in the Mosel Valley since he is a frequent visitor.
Like Cochem, Beilsten is also really small, but had a really cool castle, the Burg Metternich which was built sometime in the 12th century. The castle was ruined by the French in the 17th century and still lays in ruin today.
The views from the top of the ruins are beautiful.
Walking to the top of the castle hill in the heat can make you pretty hungry, so we went in search of some authentic German food.
Because the selection of places to get some grub is pretty small, we went with the #1 place on TripAdviser and let me tell you, the Gute Quelle did not disappoint! From the wurst to the spaetzle to the local mushrooms and finally the Riesling, everything was absolutely delicious. Probably the culinary highlight of the trip.
On the boat ride back to Cochem, I made it a point to study the beautiful and unique landscape. The vineyards along this region are said to be some of the steepest in the world. All grapes must be picked by hand and it’s even an ordeal to water the vines.
When we got back to Cochem, we headed to a small outdoor tasting room at Weingut Haxel to try a few varieties of Rielsing. We sat outside in this quaint green courtyard underneath the grapevines.
The tasting menu included 24 different samples placed on three revolving trays. There were some that were really delicious and some that kind of fell flat.
Our cell service was pretty terrible the whole time we were in Germany, so I didn’t save the restaurants that we went to on my map which I usually do, but I do know we went to Gaststatte Zum Warsteiner Sepp and also back to a restaurant along the river.
We also had some Tarte Flambee at this cute little restaurant. We ended the night with several games of foosball at one of the local pubs. I’m pretty sure everyone was super impressed with my foosball skills 😉
On Sunday morning after checkout, we made our way to the Burg Eltz, a castle almost as famous as the Neuschwanstein. We parked in the lot and opted to take the 20 minute walk through the woods instead of the shuttle bus. I would recommend wearing some walking shoes because it was legit through the forest and kind of a hike to get there.
The Burg Eltz castle was constructed a long time ago by three branches of the wealthy Eltz family, the Rubenbachs, the Rodendorfs, and the Kempenichs. The first two of these families are no longer living in the castle and these parts are open to the public. The Kempenich family still uses the castle so you can’t go see their living room. It was so cool to see how well preserved everything in the castle was because it was all in the same family. The castle has 44 fireplaces and 20 bathrooms. Impressive. We also learned about the weapons used to defend the castles and it is one of the only castles in the region that has never been destroyed.
Despite the fact that it was unorganized chaos to get to do a tour of the place, I really enjoyed our time spent at the castle. We also really enjoyed the restaurant at the castle and had some more authentic German food, schnitzel, potato pancakes with applesauce, and of course more Tarte Flambee.