Eltz castle

Burg Eltz from above

Tuesday morning we awoke early to make our 7:15 train from Aachen. For reasons I don’t fully understand, every single train we took over Easter break was either delayed or cancelled, and we were not able to complete any of the originally scheduled itineraries as planned. However, we did always manage to make it to our destination one way or the other. We first traveled from Aachen to Köln, then to Koblenz, and finally on to Moselkern. Our train to Koblenz was about 20 minutes late, which meant we missed the first train to Moselkern, and had to wait for the next hourly train. Clare, Dave, and I walked around Koblenz a bit to kill the time. The ride from Koblenz to Moselkern was very beautiful, with views of the Mosel river, vineyards, and lots of little towns along the way.

Clare had read that we should expect taxis to be waiting at the Moselkern train station to take us to Burg Eltz, which turned out not to be the case. Maybe only in high season. We were able to call a taxi though, and made it to the castle for a tour. The taxi dropped us off at the parking lot, and then there is a small hike down to the castle. We got our tickets and then got in line for the tour, which was about a 45 minute wait. The tour itself was also about 45 minutes. We learned all sorts of neat facts. The castle was not built as a military castle, but rather an economic castle, to collect tolls from merchants along the trade route. Shortly after being built in the 12th century, the castle was divided among three sons, and they each had their own separate houses on the grounds. One line eventually died out, and the other one sold their stake to the remaining Kempenich family in 1815, which has been the sole owner and operator of the castle ever since; apparently they sometimes still live there. At some point they remodeled to add passageways between the formerly distinct houses. One interesting fact about the castle is that it was not sacked by Napoleon, unlike most of the other castles along the Rhein and Mosel. The story goes that they never found it, since it is kind of tucked away.

The tour did not allow photographs, so I am including some interior shots from postcards. Some other fun facts from the tour we learned – the castle has 40 fireplaces and over 20 toilets (which just dumped outside). The kitchen had an open fire, and a neat ratcheted contraption to raise and the lower the level of pots and pans over the fire, to control the temperature. It also had two “refrigerators”, which were just rooms with really thick walls and heavy doors – the outside wall of the kitchen was over nine feet thick.

After the tour, we also visited the treasury, which housed all sorts of weapons, jewelry, fine china, golden chalices and other valuables the family had collected over the years. Then we decided to stop at the little cafe for a bite to eat. After a little chance to rest, we decided to hike back down to Moselkern. We kept getting different information about the length of the hike, but in the end it seemed to be about 3 miles or so. We had perfect weather, and the path was beautiful, with lots of wildflowers and early spring leaves coming out. The sound of the Eltz river going by, and the birds chirping was very calming. It was a very long walk for 70 year olds though. At some point it seemed like Dave and Ellen couldn’t make it, but eventually we did make it back to the train station, to wait for another delayed train.

After we arrived back in Koblenz, I make a quick trip to the Aldi we had discovered during our previous stop in Koblenz and picked up a few things to make dinner. I was going to get stuff to make peanut butter noodles, in memory of our Greece trip, in which that was the only thing we had available, but Aldi was out of peanut butter, so I just got some tomato sauce instead. Then we got a taxi to our final destination, the Rheinterrasse vacation apartment, which was absolutely beautiful. It would have been better if we could have stayed one day longer there to do a bit more relaxing, with the beautiful view of the Rhine, but we had too many other things we wanted to see while we were in Koblenz.

To be continued …

Happy Easter 2022

Easter dinner

This year for Easter Dave and Ellen came to visit. The original plan was that we would meet them in Frankfurt at the airport on Wednesday, then head over to Munich for a couple days, then back to Würselen for Easter Sunday and Monday. After two years of avoiding it, I finally caught Covid, and passed it to Spencer as well. Clare and Alice managed to avoid it; perhaps they have built up T-Cells in their immune system to fight it off. So Spencer and I stayed home while the rest of the entourage enjoyed Munich. By Saturday, Spencer and I both tested negative, and were starting to feel a little bit better. After a bit of train troubles, I finally picked up the travelers near Cologne on Saturday near dusk, and we enjoyed a dinner of pulled-pork sandwiches before heading to bed, with dreams of candies.

Sunday morning we had dyed eggs, hot cross buns, and candy. I only made a single batch of hot cross buns this year since there is still no flour in the grocery stores due to the grain shortage as a result of the Ukraine war. Since I didn’t really have a good sized pan to put them in all together, I decided to try putting them in a muffin tin, and they turned out quite good.

After breakfast, we took a walk past our new house, and enjoyed looking at all the flowers and trees in bloom.

After the walk we enjoyed another hot cross bun and coffee while we prepared dinner – ham, sweet potatoes, and green bean casserole. After dinner many of us took a little nap, then we played some poker.

Easter dinner
Easter dinner
Dave and Spencer playing poker
Dave and Spencer playing poker

On Easter Monday, Alice made French toast for breakfast, along with more hard boiled eggs and Easter candy. Then we went to our favorite walking place in the Würselen forest, and enjoyed the birds chirping and the spring foliage, along with a little picnic lunch. It’s nice to have family for the holidays.

Clare, Alice, Dave & Ellen go to München

Our whole family plus Clare’s parents were supposed to go visit München together, but a few days before we were supposed to leave, Rob and Spencer got sick and tested positive for COVID. Luckily it was not a life threatening case, but they were both sick for close to a week. Luckily, Clare and Alice were able to avoid catching it and we were able to travel with my parents to stay away from the apartment until the boys tested negative.

The (grand)parents arrived at Frankfurt airport and we travelled together by train. There was a delay due to a medical emergency on the tracks. It was annoying to be delayed, but not the worst day of our lives like it was for someone else. We did get a train an hour or two later and even found seats together, so it could have been much worse. We walked from the train station to our apartment in the Altstadt and saw many famous sites on our way into town.

April, April

Alice is a big fan of April Fool’s day. This year she repeated a couple tricks from the previous year, as well as added a couple new ones. When I went to put on my socks, I only found Clare’s socks in my drawer. When I sat down on the toilet, there was a huge cracking sound like a had broken the toilet (it was uncooked pasta underneath the toilet seat breaking – a repeat from last year).

Perhaps the best prank was when she suddenly came to me and said “dad, the water in the kitchen is running”, and I was greeted with this image of water bottles in shoes: