Thursday October 5th – Day 13, Kinheim, Beilstein, Cochem, Walporzheim, Ahrweiler
It was Thursday in week two so we were on the move again as we began a slow haul towards home.
I did manage to get a run in that morning, down to the Enkirch lock and back, with a head wind all the way. I spent quite a lot of the run having to avoid falling over walnuts and quinces that had been blown down by the overnight gales that had battered the valley. I even picked a quince up and packed it away to bring home and see if I could get it to germinate in my garden.
After breakfast we repacked the car and checked out, heading the wrong way to start with just to get some photos of the pumpkins at Kinheim. And yep, they were still there. And yep, they were still odd.
On either side the grapes were so ripe you could almost smell the sugar in them as one of the earliest harvests ever moved into its final stages.
I also managed to get a good look at the rather Heath Robinson vehicles used to assist with the transport of grapes up or down the slopes to the waiting tractors. They are a species of small rack-and-pinion devices that look like the offspring of a hospital waiting room chair and a lawn mower, and I’d really like to have a go in one just to see how they actually work.
After that we headed along the valley to Beilstein only to arrive in a freezing cold downpour. Beilstein is a tourist magnet, largely because it is so implausibly pretty. The reason for it being so well preserved as a medieval town is that it was so poor in the past that the locals could not afford to pull the houses down and rebuild. And then it was discovered by the German film industry. That brought money, as did the resulting tourists. It’s really and truly glorious.
If you are interested in the films that the town has appeared in, they include the 1958 film version of “Der Schinderhannes”, starring Curd Jürgens, Nazi filmmaker Carl Froelich’s 1936 work “Wenn wir alle Engel wären” (If We Were All Angels) starring Heinz Rühmann and the 1938 film “Das Verlegenheitskind” starring Ida Wüst and Paul Klinger.
Before deciding what to try and see we decided we really needed a hot drink. A warm restaurant with radiators turned up full was very tempting and we let it draw us in.
We may have found the only cafe in the tiny town that was apparently not owned by the almost ubiquitous Lippmanns and their hotel empire! After a hot coffee we made for the Abbey, and on the way I was much amused by the lack of false advertising. This holiday home advertised itself as Haus kein Moselblick (House with no Moselle View) in direct contrast to the countless “Haus Moselblicks” that are everywhere in the area.
Our next stop was to wander up and round to the Catholic parish church of St. Joseph and the Carmelite Abbey on the hill. The baroque jewel dates back to 1691 and has a triple nave, another unusual format that I haven’t seen anywhere else recently.
We didn’t have a lot of time so after we’d visited the church it was pretty much time to move on in the direction of Cochem. We needed to be on a different river altogether by the end of the day, so we couldn’t hang about. This meant that we’d have to give Burg Metternich a miss due to time constraints, at least unless we wanted to go and pay for more parking.
We arrived in Cochem via a traffic jam and parked up at the bottom of the chairlift where there’s a useful car park. I tried to persuade Lynne to take a trip to the top but she was having none of it. Actually as the top appeared to be shrouded in mist, she might well have been right!
Instead we set off to walk towards the castle which is perched on a rocky bluff overlooking the river. The old town is lovely enough if somewhat too touristy for our tastes, and the weather wasn’t helping.
Even the mime artists looked unhappy in the cold, wet conditions. I also think that it’s possible that some of the other medieval town centres we’d already visited had more charm than Cochem. However, you can’t argue about how spectacular the castle is. It makes up I think for the fact that there are too many people in the town!
We considered waiting for the shuttle bus but decided we’d walk up to the Reichsburg Cochem instead. We both had umbrellas and we wouldn’t melt – and besides it was good exercise to counteract all those meals we’d been eating.
The castle is yet another one where you can only go round on a guided tour,so we duly rounded up tickets for the next English language tour to save me having to be on translation duty. We were also allowed to take photos on the tour, so that was a nice change. Anyway, to return to its history… It’s a stunning looking structure and no doubt many people would look at it and think it the epitome of the medieval German castle. All is not as it seems. The original castle on the site was destroyed by Louis XIV of France in in 1689, and for around two centuries it stood in ruins. However, a businessman from Berlin, Louis Ravené, bough the site in 1868 and embarked on a truly crazy plan to build a new neo-Gothic castle as a summer residence for his family. Clearly it was a fashionable thing to do at the time, as the same year Ludwig II of Bavaria, began the construction of Neuschwanstein Castle, also on the site of an old ruined castle. Ravené did not live to see the completion of the building work, that was left to his son Louis Auguste Ravené (1866-1944). After the death of his father in 1879, Louis Auguste supervised the final stages of construction, mostly involving work on the castle’s interior and the castle was completed in 1890.
In 1942 Ravené was forced to sell the building to the Prussian Ministry of Justice, which turned it into a law school and after the war, it became the property of the new state of Rheinland-Pfalz. In 1978 the city of Cochem bought the castle for 664,000 Deutschmarks and is now administered by a private company.
The tour was fascinating, with lots of renaissance furniture and decoration, and the tallest suit of armour I think I’ve ever seen.
There are some stunning views from up there too.
Afterwards we stopped off in the Castle Tavern which probably also has stunning views, at least when it’s not lost in the cloud cover, as it was by the time we got there.
A glass of wine and a couple of bockwurst with potato salad filled a gap and we were soon on our way back down to the town.
On the way back to the car we stopped off and bought a three litre container of Federweisser to take home with us, being very careful to make sure the lid was not tightened. If you do that, you’re liable to get exploding Federweisser, which would be very sticky and very unpleasant.
Our next stop was our overnight halt at Walporzheim, at one end of the Ahr valley where we intended to buy some red wines. We were booked in for one night at the well appointed and absurdly spacious Landhotel Sanct Peter, an off-shoot of the ridiculously romantic Gasthaus Sanct Peter, which dates back to 1246. Our hotel was somewhat more modern with massive rooms!
Oh, and lovely views of the surrounding vineyards.
Sadly, the hotel and gasthaus do not do food on Thursdays (a pity given the reputation of the restaurant) but we’d found somewhere good nearby to go as a substitute) so we popped in to the bar in the Romantik Hotel Sanct Peter where we were asked if we would care to attend the concert that was being held that evening. There would also be a light supper – however, as we’d already booked elsewhere we politely declined.
We then walked back to the car and drove to the Hotel Pruemergang in the medieval maze of Ahrweiler (no thanks to the SatNav for dragging me through a tangle of tiny streets, some of which I’m pretty sure I should not have been driving along).
The restaurant is very pleasant, an open space at the bottom of a staircase which I assume leads to the hotel section of the building. In that very German way a basked of bread appeared almost immediately, along with some excellent butter and some very lively chilli peanuts.
A delicately perfumed wild mushroom soup was the started that we both wanted and it did not disappoint. It was light and creamy but redolent of woodland walks and I could have happily eaten several bowls of that and simply stopped there.
Or rather I could have done if it had not been for the temptation of the mains. The calves liver with cream of cauliflower, apple and steamed potatoes was also wonderfully autumnal, with the liver at that perfect point of being just pink enough while having a crispness to the outside that made it a great advert for a much neglected meat.
Our other choice of main was venison with kohlrabi, spaetlze and fresh lingonberries. It was just perfect.
We were much too full of food to even consider dessert and so we made our way back to the hotel and collapsed into bed.