I mentioned in my last post that during my friend Elaine’s visit we hiked the Mosel Valley vineyards in Bernkastel-Kues and had one of those days I will remember forever. This was completely unexpected but I am so glad it unfolded as it did.
Until now, Bernkastel-Kues has been somewhat of an awkward town for me. In all of the groups I am in online over here for Americans, Bernkastel is consistently listed as a favorite destination for so many people not only as a great place to visit, but also as a top Christmas Market town. A few years ago we went one afternoon to check out the market, and aside from the fireworks once it was dark, we were left unimpressed. The town was absolutely stunning with the endless half-timbered buildings and charm oozing from every crevice, but the market seemed small, crowded, and overall just did not make our top 5 list. I was baffled why so many Americans say this is their favorite.
Flash forward a few years and I thought it was time to give the town another chance, but this time during the summer grape growing season. Afterall, Bernkastel is known for its Riesling.
Bernkastel is a quintessential river cruise destination. A charming town on the river, surrounded by vineyards with tastings to attend, it is a tourist destination… come to think of it, that is probably why I didn’t like it too much before.
After some research I discovered that we could hike right through town and then follow the path through the grape vines out towards the next town wherein we could board a boat and sail back to our starting point. Perfect. We planned to do this early to beat the heat that was expected that day, and it was a good thing we did as the temps reached into the 90’s before noon. When we started off at around 8 in the morning we were the only ones on the street. It was silent and gorgeous. So easy to soak up the beauty of the town when it was not teeming with tourists.
The directions were simple. From the river walk up hill to the top of town, turn left and keep going. We did just that for 6 miles. For 2 hours we walked through the growing grapes, loving every second. We could feel the temperature start to rise as the sun crept higher and higher in the sky. By the time we reached the dock we had worked up a sweat and were ready to treat ourselves to some of the local Riesling on board.
This is where our perfect morning became quite the adventurous afternoon. Let’s just say that hiking 6 miles in 90 degree weather while not properly hydrating THEN drinking a bottle of wine in 30 minutes on a boat was maybe not the best idea, but absolutely makes the best memories. I don’t think either of us realized what was happening until we stood up as the boat turned to dock. When the deck hands pulled the boat to the dock the little bump sent us flying and then we knew… we were the obvious Americans who would stand out like a sore thumb until we were able to get it out of our system.
Our afternoon was filled with a bit more laughter than usual, and some spinning walls but we managed quite well. We enjoyed a delicious meal in a hotel courtyard underneath an enormous wisteria tree and set back out to walk it off and sober up. Really. We sat at lunch for well over an hour just enjoying the beauty of the courtyard… and also resting our spinning heads.
We finished our outing with a little shopping. I found some squid-ink linguine (delicious) and made a purchase that will forever make me smile. Earlier that morning we had walked past a hat shop and I was dying to go in and look around. Once open I strolled right in and told the shopkeeper that “I want[ed] to be Kate Middleton, not Meghan” and she helped me pick the perfect hat which I then wore for Fil’s change of command ceremony. Memories made. Sidebar– I do like Meghan Markle quite a bit, but hat fashion goes to Kate. 😉
The final piece to Bernkastel are the castle ruins that tower above. I took the opportunity to nap on a bench while Elaine explored. The castle, Burg Landshut, was built in 1276 upon older ruins from the 4th or 5th centuries and provides incredible views of the town below and the sprawling vineyards on either side of the river.
The rest of that weekend we continued in wanderlust, after taking one day off for a backyard crayfish boil. We explored The small towns of Lahde/Frille a bit north of where I live. These were very quaint towns that Elaine had some ancestry from so it was really special to wander the towns with her in search of landmarks to take pictures of to share with family at home.
From there we also visited Schloss Drachtenberg, a place that Elaine had found in her research, but was also on my list of possibilities so it was an easy decision to go. We were both underwhelmed. While the building was impressive, it was no castle. It was actually a villa that was built in a castle form. Actually what it reminded me of was the PBS program, America’s Castles—homes built by the super-rich to resemble castles, but were really just mansions. We toured with an audio guide that provided interesting information about the home that was never lived in, and how its use was transformed during the wars. In the states I loved visiting places like that (Maymont in Richmond, VA was one) but once you have seen a real castle, visiting a villa in Germany just doesn’t cut it.
Please, please, please visit the temporary album Elaine has shared on her photography page to see more pictures from this day (8-3-2018). Elaine took some amazing photos not only of Bernkastel, but of her whole trip.
Thank you to Elaine for all of the pictures in this post! But also, thank you for visiting me and sharing these adventures ❤