Europe 2012: Day 94, Burg Eltz Castle


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Burg Eltz Castle, Germany.

                               

Saturday, 9/08/12

Woke at 7:30am.   It is sunny and cool.   Perfect day to see another castle.

Today we are able to enjoy our breakfast.   Our train for Treis-Karden  doesn’t leave until 10:26am so we were lazy — just like one should be on vacation.

At the train station, we buy our train tickets using the automated machines since today is Saturday and there is no one minding the ticket counter.   We wait for the train with a bunch of bicyclists — all with their their bikes and clad in spandex and helmets.  We have been told that biking the trails in this region is a very popular pastime.

The train is on time and not full.   We enjoy the 20 minute trip to Treis-Karden in relative peace.  We could have also taken the boat from Cochem to Tries-Karden but it would have taken twice as long to get there.  We wanted to save our time for the castle.

Once we get to Tires-Karden, we have 20 minutes to spare before catching a bus to the Burg Eltz Castle – a castle nestled above the Mosel River between Koblenz and Treis-Karden.  The small town of Treis-Karden is small, really small!   We walked its main street lined with tidy houses of white with black roofs in about 5 minutes.    There is nothing to do here except catch the bus out of here.  We go back to the bus stop to wait for the 330 bus.  It is a nice day, the sun is warm and everything is green.

At first we did not see the bus to the castle, because it is really a van.   On first inspection, it does not seem possible that this van could carry the eight or so people waiting for it.   But, it does!    My DH pays for our tickets and we proceed to maneuver ourselves to a seat.   However, the driver stops me and speaks some fairly stern German to me.   It takes us a while but eventually we realize that my DH only paid for himself!  I needed to cough-up another 4.30 Euros for my own ticket!   Thanks, Dear….

I pay for my ticket and the van pulls out of Treis-Karden, the final stop being the parking lot for Burg Eltz Castle.  This castle is considered to be one of the best castles in Germany.  But it is very remote, and thus not visited much by tourists looking for an easy castle experience.   This van makes a number of stops in some of the smaller rural towns along the way.   Twenty minutes into the ride, we are far from the river bank of vineyards and into the rolling fields of corn and wheat.  Here are some pictures I took from the van:

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Riding in the van to the Burg Eltz Castle.

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We passed fields of corn and wheat.

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We are almost there!

In thirty minutes, the van drops us off that the parking area for the Burg Eltz Castle — it looks barren and deserted.     Based on the sign, there is still a twenty minute walk ahead of us to the castle along a windy road that  goes down a hill, then up a hill, and then down a hill again  to the castle.

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The walk to the castle allows plenty of time to take in the views of the surrounding forest.

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Entrance to the castle — it doesn’t look too crowded.

Once we arrive at the castle, my DH  buys our tickets just in time for the 1:30pm English tour of the castle.  In general, the tour was good (but no pictures were allowed in the castle).

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Courtyard of the castle. We stood in line waiting for our tour to start. The castle is surprisingly small — it must be the thick stone walls that make it look so big!

At the end of the tour, we stopped for lunch at the cafe near the entry of the castle.  We shared a veggie stir-fry and a soft pretzel – tasty!  We linger here in the cool shade for about an hour.   My DH consults the Rick Steves book.  Rick says we should take a one and a half hour nature walk back to the the train station versus taking the bus.   Because it is a lovely afternoon, we decide to take the walk.

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A view of the castle from the walking path.

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Wow, what a lovely day…

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…for a walk in the woods….

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…next to an babbling stream…

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…under shady trees…

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…where we stopped to rest by the water…

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…and continued with the nice walk.

The walk was wonderful!   Yeah, it takes about 1-2 hours to complete, but the trail is fairly easy and almost completely shaded.   Half way through the walk, we walk past this hotel.  In this hotel has a wonderful café that serves the most temping cakes!   We take a break and order the Raspberry Cream Cake and a bottle of cold water.   After all, tourists do not travel by guide books alone — we need cake, too!

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A hotel in the middle of nowhere.

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Let us eat cake!

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Now, how do we get back to Cochem! Any idea?

Another 30 minutes of walking and we are at the train station.  We get tickets with 6 minutes to spare before the train arrives.   The train is not busy and we get seats immediately.   In 20 minutes, we are back in Cochem at around 6pm.

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At last, a picture of our hotel in Cochem.

It has been such a nice day and since it is our last night in Germany, we decide to take one last cruise up and down the Mosel River.   We get tickets with 3 minutes to spare before the boat leaves the dock.  We run and we make it!   The cruise is lovely and relaxing.

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It is too early for dinner so let’s take another cruise up the river! The boat awaits!

An hour and a half later, we are back on dry land in Cochem.   We go back to the hotel and check email and consult TripAdvisor for a nice restaurant.   We decide on RatSteller, a restaurant in a cave that specializes in regional food and wine.

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The Ratsteller — highly rated by TripAdvisor!

We arrive around 8pm, just before the restaurant gets busy.  The dining room is cool and dark with heavy wooden tables and chairs, stone wall and arches, and an impressive bar.  We spend more time that we would have liked looking over the menu.   This restaurant is a bit understaffed and it take a while to place our order.   My DH orders the chicken breast with veggies and dumplings and a beer.   I order the roasted pork tenderloin with veggies and dumplings and a nice dry glass of Riesling.   While we wait for our food, my DH writes in his journal and I play a game on the Kindle.  Surprisingly, our food arrives quickly and both dishes are excellent!!!   So excellent, that we decide to order dessert (that almost never happens).   We order ice cream with a succulent regional peach in a nice red syrup to share!  Another excellent dish!

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I like this place — it is cool and dark and has wine!

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The menu is in German — it all looks good!  We will just order the specials…

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The restaurant is filling up! We came at the right time!

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I ordered the roasted pork!

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DH ordered the roasted chicken.

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Both came with a side of dumplings (spatzle) fried in butter and bacon — hmmmmm!

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A dessert to share — ice cream with a succulent regional peach in a nice red syrup.

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I also ordered espresso — always served with a glass of water and a chocolate-thing. Love the platter!

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Ahhhhh!

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Oh yeah, the wine was good too!

We were completely pleased with the meal!  Unfortunately, it took almost half an hour to get our bill.  Normally, this would not have been a problem for us (we like to linger) except that we have until 10pm to use the hotel’s WiFi before they turn it off for the evening.   We pay our bill and make it back to the hotel to do some web surfing — enough to check email and train schedules at least.

Tomorrow we leave Germany and we are a little sad about that.   We like Germany!  Even though we don’t speak German, we find the locals to be very nice and helpful and we really appreciated that.  Plus, the country and towns of Germany are freakin’ gorgeous!!

Quote of the day:   “But the weather is so nice!”  — DH as he suggested we take a hike.

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