Getting to Cochem
After an easy train ride from Amsterdam to Cologne, we grabbed a taxi outside of the station to drive us to the closest Hertz to pick up our rental car. I had pre-programmed my Google Maps to take us from the Hertz station to our hotel in Cochem, choosing the route that led astray from the autobahns and into the back roads. It was on this drive that we discovered the diversity of the German landscape.
When studying the map in preparation for our travels, I saw Germany in 2-D, flat without definition, but once on the road, I realized how very wrong that perception had been. Germany is far from flat. We found ourselves zooming through hills that could almost be mountains, following along streams that ran down from the Earth at all angles eventually pouring into the Mosel River. With an incline up over the Western hill that lines the bank of the river, we saw a spectacular view from above. A parking pull off allowed us to soak in the majestic sight.
After eventually checking into our accommodations and exploring Reichsburg Castle and the town of Cochem first, we visited the Tourist Center and were provided a map of the hiking trails in the area, but the first hike was really all Jarrett’s choice.
Goal: To See the Town from the Other Side
From our large patio overlooking the Mosel, we could see clear across to a little gazebo at the top of the parallel hill, so we decided to head there first to get a view of the town from high up on the other side of the river. It was easy enough to find the path that shot at almost a 90 degree angle up to through the vineyards, but trekking up that path was far far from easy! Even with the rope hand rail!
Once we made it up the straight shot path, we were relieved to find a switch back path for the next portion of the trail. After cutting through the vineyards, the path led into a patch of trees and we lost sight of the vineyards and river. As the trail leveled out, we knew we were almost to the top and soon the trees gave way to the view we had sought. Wind gust along the crest but we found some sanctuary inside the gazebo. We had made it to the top and we watched the world below. The tiny little specs of tourists weaving their way through the town we had just been. This view put into perspective the enormity of Germany. It’s history, it’s people, it’s nature.
We soaked up this moment for as long as we could until another couple arrived from another path. Instead of taking the same trek back down, we followed the ridge south following the river. As the path continued to lead through forests and then back out to open pastures, we eventually came to a path that we assumed would lead us down off the mountain.
Making Our Way Back
After some time winding along the top of the river through thickets of trees that occasionally gave way to a view of the Mosel below, the path began to gradually slope down and the trees began to disperse. We found ourselves on a trail that weaved along the top of the vineyards. By this point, we were becoming tired so when we found a road, we realized that would be the fastest way down off the cliff.
The road dropped us of in the town of Valwig and from there we just followed the river back to Cochem. Before much needed food, we popped into a cellar for some much needed wine. The man working there did not speak English and even though we did not speak German, we delighted in the exchange of information and questions through hand signals and smiles. He let us sample any and all of the wine we wanted and we ended up purchasing a few bottles before finally heading back to the room to rest up before dinner.