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 …