Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Holiday – Day 4: Cruise on the Mosel and Wine Tasting

The best way to describe today would be ‘lazy’. In short, we’re going to jump on a boat, sail for a few hours down the Mosel and then spend the next hour or so, getting pissed, sampling the fine wines of the region courtesy of a local vineyard. Finally, we’ll stagger onto a train taking us back to our hotel - just in time for the evening meal. A tough life, but... (well, you know the ending!)

Here’s the longer version. We rose at 6am, in order to prepare ourselves for poll-position at the hotel troughery for 7. No doubt our holiday-colleagues will all be thinking the same, and it’ll be a case of the ‘survival of the fattest’ once we get into the restaurant. If ‘getting-to-the-breakfast-area-as-close-to-the-official-opening-time’ was an Olympic sport, we would have bagged another few golds by now!

With breakfast over, it was the now familiar yomp over the bridge and into the town. This time, we took a slight detour and boarded the good ship: Maria von Beilstein for the 8.30 sailing. We’re only going the short distance from Cochem to Traben Trarbach, but on the winding Mosel, it’s going to take around five hours.
The good ship 'Maria von Beilstein'
Our journey...
As gorgeous as it was, it certainly felt like a long trip. There’s only so much identical scenery I can take before it gets boring - and I ODed on vertical vineyards and coal barges after only about three hours. Still, at least the weather was good - 31 degrees - and we all made the most of it.
Setting sail...
Oooo a vertical vineyard!
oooo, a vertical vineya... zzzzzzzzzz
Stunning view down the Mosel
A commercial barge
For me, what kept it more interesting was the fact that the Mosel has got some of the biggest locks I’ve ever seen, and was impressive to watch the effortless way the ships’ staff seemed to navigate them with ease!
A ginormous lock (1 of 3 along our route)
What seemed like another 10000 miles, 412 vineyards and 59 commercial barges, we approached our destination - Traben Trarbach!
Sites along the way
Sites along the way
13.20: We arrived in the town of Traben Trarbach on-time and that gave us enough time to find a place to eat. It didn’t take long to find a restaurant with tables outside. The service was pretty quick and we were soon tucking into our various choices.
Lunch was here...Not another beer!
With our bellies full, it was time to  walk across the bridge to the wine-tasting factory. By now the temperature was even warmer - 33 degrees - and it felt like it! After a short wait we headed into the wine factory where Axel (the 42-year-old owner) made his short introduction. Then were led into the cellars and with the sweltering temperature outside, this was perfect!

We learned a lot about wines helped by Axel being a great speaker and entertainer. He dispelled many of the myths associated with wines and wine-tasting and the whole thing finished off with a wine-sampling session. Free alcohol - what more does a holiday need!!!
Dark, damp and dripping - and that's just my under-arms!
Dark, damp and dripping - and that's just my under-arms!
Artists at work...
After the exshellent wine-shampling, we took the short stagger walk to station. By 5.30, we were back at Cochem station - where once again, there weren’t any taxis. We walked back in the sweltering heat and collapsed in the shower when we got to our room.

It’s been a great day. A bit hot for me, but manageable. The highlight for me was the tour round the wine factory - brilliant stuff.

We chilled out in the evening and had a relaxed evening meal in the restaurant. We’re knackered though!!!

Tomorrow, it’s our free day, and our last full day here - we plan to visit Cochem Castle for amongst other things, some stunning views of the River Mosel as it snakes its way through the area.