Cross on mountain

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

 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.

Cross on mountainA cross on top of a mountain outside Oberammergu

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.

Confluence of Moselle and Rhine riversThe Moselle River meets the Rhine at Koblenz

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.

2 gondolas over the Rhine2 gondolas going over the Rhine

King Wilhelm IStatue of King Wilhelm I

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.

Devi Trevor at the fortressDevi and Trevor at the entrance to the fortress

 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.

Gondola and bargeA gondola above the Rhine and a long barge on it. Note the captain’s car at the back

View up the RhineView up the Rhine with the town of Koblenz on the left

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.

Koblenz Bridge from 15th centuryThe 15th Century Koblenz Bridge

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.

 Vineyards on the hill A town with vineyards behind on the hill on the Moselle

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 at 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 Tromech to TrarbachThe bridge which connects the towns of Traben-Trabach

 Post OfficeThe Post Office for Traben-Trabach

Statue of slave girl grapes pickerTrevor rests beside a statue honouring the slave girls who picked grapes

From there we travelled to the town of Cochem, just 3 miles further up the road. At the entrance to the town is a wall covered in tiles showing important dates for Cochem.  In the town is a large building with 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.

Tiled wall with important dates for CochemTiled wall at entrance to Cochem

We  walked up to Cochem Castle  and once again the views were just breathtaking as we looked across the valley and down into the towns.

Cochem Castle GateThe gate to the Cochem Castle

Castle tower with muralA mural on a tower of the castle

Cochem Castle vineyardsThe vineyards of Cochem Castle


Engraved 1712 stone for Martin Cochem GymA stone on the road to the castle with the name Martin Cochem Gymhasium

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.

18th century homeA home built in the 18th Century

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.

Mural from 1765A mural from 1765

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 RC ChurchThe church built in the 12th Century

Carved tiles of 4 SaintsIcons of the 4 Gospel writers – Matthew, Mark, Luke & John

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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