October 30-31, 2023
These two days have been relaxing. In order for the passengers to be able to see this beautiful countryside, castles, and quaint towns, the ship has been docking at night and traveling during the day. So we have been sleeping in a bit, eating a relaxing breakfast and lunch, watching the view, and then exploring some of the small towns.
Cochem was originally settled by the Celts, and later by the Romans. In the 13th century walls and forts were built. Some of the walls and gates are still standing, and it was interesting to see that there was a hotel just outside one of the gates, which was used by people who arrived at the gate after it was closed at night. Since there was not an organized system of justice at that time, each town had its own way of dealing with theft or other crimes. Records show that someone found guilty of theft might have a portion of their lower ear cut off to let everyone know they were not to be trusted.
Cochem had a unique way of dealing with floods from the Moselle river. The first floor of houses and shops were made of materials that could survive the flood, and no decorations or furniture that could be damaged were used on the first floor. Also, doors providing a direct path for the flood waters to flow through the building were built. When the people of Cochem heard from the town upriver that there was a flood coming, they moved items on the first floor to the second floor and waited for the flooding to pass. Many stores and homes still use that approach today. After the tour we had some time to shop! Yay!!
Cochem is on the Moselle River, so of course the excursion stopped at a Winery. The Moselle River Valley is known for its production of high quality Riesling wines, and also Pinot Noir. The vineyards are on the sides of very steep hills and so all grapes must be hand-picked. During hand-picking, the workers only pick the high quality grapes that are ready for harvest. That is one reason why the wines are so good. The winery we visited was in a cute little town, and the owner was very entertaining as he shared the history and important points of wine making in the area. And we tasted less traditional Moselle wines - a Secco, an Ebling, and a peach liquor. All good!
This was a small town on our way to Trier. Like many towns in the area, there were beautiful half-timbered buildings and an impressive Rathaus (town hall). We were able to walk into town in the morning and look around, shop, or eat on our own. Our group ate on the ship, but did buy some delicious Quarkies (like big, light donut holes) to snack on. Then we did some shopping and headed back to catch our bus tour to Trier.
Trier is the oldest city in Germany, founded in 16 BC by Emperor Ceasar Augustus. The city is known for its many roman ruins, including the very large and impressive city gate, the Porta Nigra (Black Gate), made of gray sandstone. We had time for some shopping and then sat out a rain shower sipping coffee (or hot chocolate) in a cafe.
Leaving Trier turned out to be a bit of an adventure. Because the water level in the Moselle was really high, the ship had to dock in a different place than usual when it arrived in the Trier area. The tour bus dropped us off and said the ship was just off to the left. So we walked down to the water and followed a dirt/gravel path to left, but we didn't see a ship so we kept walking through the trees, in the dark, following our tour director. Now, keep in mind that this was October 31. Doesn't that scenario have the makings of a great Halloween horror movie! But eventually the ship arrived and tied up to the dock and we all went safely onboard. Quite the adventure!
Tomorrow we make our way to Luxembourg and then to the city of lights, Paris! Oui, oui!