Dates: Oct 3 - 4, 2017
Route: Drove from Belgium.
Our constant quest to find small, quaint, fairytale-like towns has led us to discover many gems in Europe but this was the first time something came up in Germany. To be fair, we have not done a proper holiday in Germany and we realize there are a lot of beautiful villages there. But, the stern and orderly German culture is somewhat off-putting for us and we have spent time in other parts of Europe instead. While researching our holiday, where we drove from Amsterdam to Colmar, France over 2 weeks, Rupa found the gem that turned out to be Cochem.
Cochem is the biggest town in the picturesque Rhineland-Palatinate region and lies in the Mosel River Valley. The town has made several lists of the top 10 places to visit in Germany and is very well known for its wine. As you would expect, Riesling tops the list along with Roter Weinberg Pfirsich Likör which is a liqueur made from the peaches grown locally. We knew it was a special place as we began our descent from the mountains and into the valley where we were greeted by lush vineyards and the spire of the town’s main church in the central square. We arrived late in the evening and were captivated by the view of the castle that towers high above the city. Beautifully lit from all sides and reflected in the river which we were crossing, the place felt fairytale indeed. The main old town and castle lie on the west side of the river while our hotel, The Traumblick, lay on the east side along with most of the residential neighborhoods. We highly recommend this hotel as the rooms are spacious, clean, and the included breakfast was one of the best we had on this holiday.
Like most medieval towns in Europe, Cochem was founded and grew up around a castle, the Imperial Castle or Reichsburg Cochem. Though it was mostly destroyed in the many wars the region experienced, it was reconstructed in the then popular Neo-Gothic style. You can read all about the castle here. This is one of the few castles we would recommend going on the tour as it is very well preserved and gives you a good idea of what life was like back then. There are pictures in the gallery below from inside the castle. But getting to the castle is almost as much fun as touring it as walking through the charming streets is the best way to experience the town. We felt transported to a different time while wandering by the quaint and colorful half-timbered buildings along cobblestone streets. Traditional German music spilling out of small restaurants and smells of meat roasting completed the scene. There are also small wine tasting rooms that showcase the region’s many varietals and vintages.
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At dinner, we asked the nice waitress serving us if she would recommend any other towns nearby that were worth seeing. She recommended Beilstein, which was only a 15 minute drive and we decided to go there. The town was on the eastern side of the river so we followed the L98 which offered us our final view of Cochem and the castle. As soon as we left town, the road opened up with many vineyards on hillsides off to the left and picturesque villages off to the right, across the river. Our research told us that Beilstein was known as the “Sleeping Beauty of the Moselle” because of its historic inaccessibility and beautiful setting. We parked just outside the small town and began our walk up the single main street. Right away we could tell this town was smaller and even more quaint than Cochem and is also dominated by a castle (though not anywhere near in good condition). Narrow, cobblestone streets lead uphill through a well-preserved old town and towards the other large building in town, the Saint Joseph’s Catholic Parish Church. This church is known for a 12th century Black Madonna and is a pilgrimage site. After seeing the Madonna, we had lunch at the excellent restaurant next to the church, which offered panoramic views of the village and vineyards across the river. Overall Beilstein is a quaint and beautiful town in the Mosel Valley and one that is a must-do along with Cochem. The only other highlight of our visit here was petting an adorable golden retriever named Milo and making friends with his owner.
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