Up the Moselle River Valley

Today I tell you about the final day of our first coach tour. Thanks to our bus driver it was really special

 600 year old bridgeA 14th Century bridge over the Rhine at Koblenz

When we travelled to Europe in 2010 we went on our first group coach tour and found it to be great fun. This was certainly helped by the fact that most of us knew each other prior to the trip and we had gone most specifically to see the Oberammegau Passion  Play.

Thereafter we spent a week touring parts of Bavaria and Austria. Koblenz, our final stop, was very busy preparing for the German Horticultural Show which is considered to be almost on a par with the Chelsea Flower Show. There was construction all over the place and it was a little difficult disembarking from our boat and climbing the short hill to the bus.

Once we had checked in at a lovely hotel, we were free to discover the city, which is situated at the confluence of the Moselle and Rhine Rivers with a statue of Kaiser Wilhelm I dominating the skyline right where the 2 rivers meet. Part of the completed construction was a cable car over the Rhine to connect the city with the The Fortress of Ehrenbreitstein on the hill opposite.

 

King Wilhelm lStatue of King Wilhelm l situated at the confluence of the Moselle and Rhine Rivers

A group of us took the opportunity to use the cable car and tour the fortress. So glad we did. Not only did we learn some very interesting history but also saw some stunning views up and down the Rhine.

 

Entrance to the fortressEntrance to the fortress

Once back in town we walked along the road which took us along the river bank and partially up the Moselle River to the oldest bridge in the area. Built in the 14th Century it is a beautiful stone bridge which is sturdy today as it was 700 years ago. This is one of the wonderful things about Europe. Buildings and other constructions are maintained and often still in daily use. Sadly, this trend is not that prevalent here in South Africa and so many other places. There may be local by-laws in place to protect old buildings but little can be done when a new owner is totally disinterested and simply knocks a place down and builds a monstrosity.

The following day we were scheduled to travel to Cologne for a day visit but once again, our very special driver and now unofficial guide , Jurg,suggested we do something else instead – take a trip along the banks of the Moselle River to the twin towns of Traben-Trarbach and once again, he had made a brilliant suggestion. One heads west out of Koblenz into the most beautiful part of the wine country in Bavaria.

 

Mural at entrance to Traben TrabachMural at entrance to Traben. It symbolises various parts of Bavaria's history

Before leaving though, we had our 3rd and last Communion service together in the hotel lounge. It was a very special time of fellowship and saying farewell to those we would not see again. This reminded me of what happened at OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg as we were leaving SA. The priest who was bringing the communion wine had it in a 300ml bottle. At security in the airport she was told that she could not bring it through as it was in a bottle larger than 100mls. So off she went and purchased 3x100ml plastic bottles and decanted it into those. They then allowed her to take it on to the aeroplane.

The road twists and turns with the river meandering westwards through a number of small towns on the way to Traben-Trabach which was a real joy to visit. Along the steep banks of the river were hundreds of vineyards and, to make them more accessible the farmers (viticulturists) had built rail tracks down the banks and used carts on wheels to move up and down these. It was fascinating to watch these men and work. Trevor and I were able to witness one of the joys of travelling only a few months later when there was a car rally through the Moselle River area. We recognised so much. It really is exciting when one sees a place on TV or similar and can say, ‘I stood on that corner.'

 

Bridge from TrabenBridge between the 2 towns on either side of the Moselle

 We were able to spend most of the day wandering around the two towns joined by a bridge over the Moselle River. One of the most interesting places visited was the House of Icons (Haus der Ikonen) which had only recently opened. It is dedicated to the Russian iconographer, Alexej Saweljew who left the Ukraine to settle in Traben-Trarbach which is where he died in 1996. It was so moving to see all these icons that he had sculpted to declare his Christian Orthodox faith to the world. Something so different from all the beauty and activity taking place outside this Museum.

 

statue of slave girlTrevor beside a statue in honour of a slave girl and outside the House of Icons

There are a number of reading rooms and 2 small meditation rooms one of which has the Lord’s Corner Shrine known as a “beautiful place” and a vestibule with a wall of icons. We also walked up to Cochem Castle on the ourskirts of Traben-Trarbach and once again the views were just breathtaking as we looked across the valley and down into the towns.

entrance to castle

Entrance to Cochem Castle 

 On our way back to Koblenz we stopped in the town of Andeguld. Those who so wished went into a wine-tasting facility which had been in the family who lived there since the 17th Century. This was the 4th generation to have the business and at the time of our visit their elder son who was being groomed to take it over was in Cape Town doing an MBA!! Made us feel really proud as South Africans to know that our country was chosen for his training.

Both Trevor and I elected not to go wine-tasting and, with one other gentleman from our group, he sat on a bench and watched the world pass by. My over inquisitive mind and love for walking led me to take a look at the village itself which dates back to the 11th Century and, once again, many of the homes have been well maintained.

Narrow street in old town

Narrow street in Andeguld

I discovered a Roman Church which had been built in 1144 and is still in use. On the wall of a home were plaques representing each of the 4 Gospel writers and disciples of Jesus. So simple and yet really beautiful.

 

12th century chuch in Trabach12th Century Church in Andguld

We returned to the hotel tired and very aware that our time together had come to an end. We all went our separate ways the next morning.

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About Me

I was born into the early part of the Baby Boomer generation, the 3rd of what came to be a family of 6 daughters. Although both our parents, who are now deceased, had been raised in rural Natal (now KwaZulu-Natal) and the 2 eldest daughters were born in a country town, the other 4 of us were all born at home in Durban. Read More

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