Thursday, August 30, 2012

Holiday – Day 5: Free Day

As it’s a free day today, there was no need for workday-type reveilles at silly-o’clock - so we lied-in until 7.30. The weather has changed. It’s a lot greyer today - not quite fifty shades, but nowhere near  as warm as the type of weather we’ve enjoyed so far.

By 8.30 we were ready for breakfast, which today, turned out to be a lot quieter than previous expeditions. After breakfast we booked a taxi to take the four of us to Cochem Castle. We didn’t have to wait long for the taxi, and it was clear from the driver’s driving style that the ‘F1’ gene was prominent!

It was a longish drive with very twisty roads, but it was worth the ‘unique passenger experience’ for the stunning views looking down towards the hotel and along the Mosel.
Views from the Castle
Views from the Castle
There wasn’t an option to wander around the Castle individually, so we had to buy some tour tickets That’s not normally our preference, but the tour was great and we got to learn a lot about the Castle thanks to the Guide’s multi-lingual skills.
Views from the Castle
Cochem Castle
Cochem Castle
Cochem Castle
Cochem Castle
Cochem Castle
Cochem Castle
Cochem Castle
Cochem Castle
Cochem Castle
Cochem Castle
Cochem Castle

After the Tour was over, we headed for the coffee-shop, where we reflected on the journey to the Castle and discussed alternatives for getting back (Denis and lee were not in favour of an F1-style taxi journey!). We agreed a bus would be better - so far so good, but on arriving at the bus-stop just down from the Castle, we spotted that it was about another hour before the next bus was due. Still, at least it would be a more sedate journey. As the scheduled time approached, the queues began to grow. When the doors opened, the Brits all behaved as we do - and queued - whilst everyone else, just piled on.

Luckily, there was room for all of us and as the bus descended to Cochem, a new sport was born as the bus timetable seemed to coincide with school-sprogs’ lunch-break. This meant that both the bus and the dozens of sprogs all shared the same space and the steep decline meant the bus was travelling down the hill constantly avoiding the kids. Bizarrely, the kids seemed to be enjoying the threat, and were taking it in turns to walk in front of the bus, adding to the driver’s frustration!

Fifteen minutes, 212 sprogs and 0 causalities  later, we reached the bottom and we looked for somewhere to eat - that didn’t take too long as we settled for the restaurant underneath the Town Hall. We chose it because it was easy to find, but as things turned-out, it was probably the best meal we’ve had during the whole of this holiday - and all for less than 80 Euros including main course, desserts, drinks and alcohol!
Our final meal - best of the holiday!
We finished off the day by looking round the shops for a few last minute bits and pieces and then made the (final) walk across the bridge back to the hotel.

Now the boring bit - starting to pack - as it’s the final meal tonight and an early start tomorrow! Bye-bye Cochem, we should be home by 8.30pm Friday.

Overall, it’s been a great holiday. Just the right amount of walking, sight-seeing, drinking and eating. It was always easy to find a suitable restaurant, and even though Ann’s German helped us a lot with the menus, it was rarely necessary as most of the natives spoke English (note that not all the shops here were fluent). Denis and Lee weren’t hindered much by their senior years and were able to participate in 99% of the days’ activities. ‘Treyn’, the organisation that provided the package did a good job, although the hotel (branded as a four-star) didn’t feel that special to me. The hotel food was plentiful but average in quality, but all that was more than made up for by the helpfulness of the staff. Given a choice, I tend not to prefer the ‘trough’ approach and communal eating option, but on the whole, it worked well I suppose - we always left the table stuffed!.The lack of internet was a major inconvenience (to me) but hardly a deal-breaker. The weather was very kind - in fact, on some days, just a tad too hot for us. The only day where it looked like rain was the final day here - Thursday, so that wasn’t bad considering the UK hadn’t had it nearly so good! Would we do this all again? Yes, probably, but having experienced the package first-hand, we could probably pull it all together ourselves. Our thanks the Peter our Tour Manager who kept us on the straight and narrow during our time here.