Rheinsteig Hike

Views like this throughout
Views like this throughout

So far we’ve seen picturesque views of the Rhein by car, by boat, from various castles, and can now add by train and even more up-close-and-personal along a hike. Last weekend James, Steve, and I bought a group day pass for about €9 to take the train to the small town of Lorch. From here we trekked about 15 kilometers (9 or so miles) to the equally quaint Rhein-side town of Kaub. The journey in between was filled with gorgeous scenery, sunny but not sweltering weather, and a smattering of surprises.

Tiny church on a hill, tiny town below
Tiny church on a hill, tiny town below
Same view from another angle - imagine riding down this hill
Same view from another angle – imagine riding down this hill

This was my first taste of the Rheinsteig trail, an epic 320 kilometer hiking route between Wiesbaden and Bonn. Our comparatively small segment was a perfect day-hike: challenging at points but not overly strenuous and not as absurdly steep as some of our previous ventures. It began with a climb that was made pleasanter by the sight of butterflies alighting among Queen Anne’s lace, buttercups, and lilacs. We saw many other hikers along the way – using ski-like poles to show they were really hiking, picnicking, taking pictures – many with dogs or babies in tow.

Hill of goats
Hill of goats

The amount of castles lining the Rhein is unreal. There are castles as far as the eye can see to the next castle. Every time we passed one, another would come into view. We also passed along the rim of many hills filled with various unique scenes. On one particularly sheer drop beside a church, we witnessed an elderly man riding a piece of farming equipment downhill to maintain the property. Another rockier slope found us face to face with a herd of goats relaxing in the sun. As we approached Kaub, we discovered many tidily arranged vineyards dropping off from along the path.

Rest stop
Rest stop

As I mentioned, the hike was not grueling but it did, of course, have more of an upward stretch again in the middle that required more effort. About halfway up this part we saw, as if a mirage had appeared in the woods in front of us, a rustic wine and beer stand complete with actual glasses, long wooden picnic tables with benches, and stools surrounding barrels serving as smaller tables. The mom and pop who realized this business opportunity are my heroes. A beer, a Riesling, and an apple wine later (one drink for each of the three of us) we were fortified to complete the rest of the upward climb and continue on our now merrier way.

In the thick of the forest
In the thick of the forest

By the time we reached Kaub, our Wanderlust had been satisfied and we were ready to find a seat on the next train home.

Burg Pfalzgrafenstein, Kaub's castle in the middle of the Rhein
Burg Pfalzgrafenstein, Kaub’s castle in the middle of the Rhein
Burg Gutenfels, castle overlooking the town of Kaub
Burg Gutenfels, castle overlooking the town of Kaub
Vineyard by Burg Gutenfels
Vineyard by Burg Gutenfels

Geburtstagwanderung/Birthday Hike

Karden along the Moselle River
Karden along the Moselle River
Burg Eltz trail marker
Burg Eltz trail marker

What better way to spend a birthday than a hike through the Moselle Valley, a visit to a famous castle, and drinking local wines. For James’s birthday this month, we drove about an hour and fifteen minutes northwest and along many narrow twists and turns to the sleepy Moselle town of Karden. From here we hiked for about two hours, starting with a continuously steep climb up a rocky hill before finally catching a break with a long stretch of flat grassy farmland at the top. Eventually we entered a sun-dappled forest and came out with a view of Burg Eltz, seated on top of a small hill in a surrounding bowl of greenery. After a lunch of beer and bockwurst on the terrace, we toured the medieval castle along with a swarm of other visitors. Burg Eltz has belonged to the same family since the middle ages.

First view of Burg Eltz

First view of Burg Eltz

Entering Burg Eltz
Entering Burg Eltz

Once we had hiked back to the car, we drove about fifteen minutes along the Moselle River to the town of Cochem. We rode the Sesselbahn (chairlift) to the top of a high rocky ledge where we had a fantastic view of Reichsburg Cochem, the first castle we visited when we moved to Germany. From here we hiked the steep trail down to the main area of town, where we stopped in to Weingut Rademacher for a wine tasting. The hilly vineyard is just behind this winery, which serves as a restaurant and hotel. Next we went on to Alte Guttschänke where we had goulash soup, Riesling cheese, and more wine at a long wooden table with other guests in the cellar.

The Cochemer Sesselbahn
The Cochemer Sesselbahn
Reichsburg Cochem view from the top of the hill
Reichsburg Cochem view from the top of the hill

Alles Gute zum Geburtstag!

Weingut Rademacher
Weingut Rademacher
Downtown Cochem
Downtown Cochem