10 May 2000
things have been good since leaving the farm. we haven't headed southeast as fast as we would have liked, but we get to visit with our friend and make plans for the travels we will do with her in poland next month. we are happy.
this new leg of our travels is like starting over. after leaving the farm we spent a night with our friend, britta. we stayed our first week in europe at her flat so it felt a little like we did in the beginning. from there we went to a new place but still somewhere kind of comfortable, a place where we knew the culture and could read the menus.
we went to the moseltal, the valley of the mosel river. it is a beautiful valley of the winding mosel river with vinyard covered hills everywhere you look. the mosel empties into the rhein river just a little south of bonn. we headed up stream a bit to one of the larger, more touristy towns, cochem.
the moseltal is one of the most touristy areas of germany, but with good reason. it is very similar to the area we harvested grapes in last fall. the mosel valley is a huge wine growing region. there are lots of little towns with medieval buildings, lots of the "half timbered" type. it is very "romantic."
we had a really nice time those first couple of days. the hostel in cochem was really nice, if not a little noisy from the school groups. we wandered the town itself a little bit. it was cute. we treated ourselves to a wonderful dinner in a real restaurant. the day after our arrival, however, we went bicycling along the river.
we rented bikes in cochem and then took them on the train to traben-trarbach, a duel-town on opposite sides of a sharp bend in the river. although the train ride takes only about 15 minutes, to follow the river is around 60 km. the bike path follows the river. we figured we would take a slow day and go as far as we could.
it was a bright sunny day with an unfortunate up-stream wind. (we were going down stream of course.) most of the ride was really nice, though some places were along a small highway road. we went through many cute, little villages but we have a favorite. we went into the town of pünterich and immediately liked it. it has many of the old half-timbered buildings, but with lots of other ornate detailing as well. it was very nice. i am sure it is quite the tourist town in the high season, but it was slow and quaint when we were there. it is no where near a train station and having only a small ferry dock, it was a bit deserted on a weekday.
we only made it about half way north to cochem on the bikes that day, but it was a lovely casual day. it is a beautiful area. we made it into the next town with a train station, bullay, just in time to catch a train to cochem, just in time to return the bikes to the shop before closing.
the weather this day was typical of the previous couple of weeks. it was very warm with increasing humidity through the day. almost every day there were late thunderstorms. we didn't think anything of the electrical storm that started that evening around dinnertime. it didn't peak in intensity until we were in bed around eleven. it didn't stop until after one in the morning. the weather of the previous weeks had broken and the next day it was cooler and wet, just like we like it.
we walked in the rain the next day up to the castle that cochem is famous for. it is on the top of a hill overlooking the river. it had a fantastic view. we also wandered the town a bit more as well as some of the surroundings.
that afternoon we got on a boat that carried us upstream to bullay where we could catch the train to trier. the boat takes 2.5 hours to get to bullay from cochem. the train ride between the two towns is about 7 minutes! (it doesn't follow the river.)
when we bought the tickets we thought we would have drizzly weather and fog covered scenery. we were looking forward to it. by the time we got on the boat, though, it was sunny and getting warm. so we had to enjoy the casual ride from the top of the boat in the sun. it wasn't as difficult as it sounds. =) it was beautiful. the boat wasn't scheduled to go as far as bullay that day but it was for some reason. they sold us a special ticket since they were sailing that far anyway. we had the boad to ourselves for the last hour and a half of the trip.
it was a nice relaxing ride (especially after the group of 20 teenagers got off the boat.) unfortunately we had to hurry a bit once off the boat to catch our train the rest of the way. we did get the train, it was late anyway, and arrived in trier that evening.
we spent two nights in trier, the oldest town in germany, before heading into the saarland. from there we could only spend one night in each hostel because they were already booked. this made our sightseeing of the area a bit rushed. we were getting a bit tired of the towns and places and started to feel a bit run down before we left the saarland and went to mannheim.
unfortunately we could only spend one night in mannheim as well. we really liked mannheim. it is a multi-cultural city. it also has the most unique street layout of any place i have ever heard of. there is a palace (that is now the university) from which a tall semicircle bulges out from. this is the town center. there are almost no streets with names but each block has a letter and number designation that depends on its location with relation to the palace. on each block the buildings are numbered around it. this makes for bizarre addresses, but things are really easy to find once you know the system. we were sorry to have to leave so quickly.
during this whole time since we left gut ostler we have been trying to arrange time to visit our friend in bavaria, with whom we are going to travel poland with next month. her schedule had been too insane to be able to plan with us so we were kind of waiting, in a sense, to be able to visit. this was difficult because it made it feel like the stress of leaving the farm was still with us, we couldn't just move on. we had almost decided to just miss seeing lisi completely and try to plan from afar until we finally decided to go to innsbruck, austria, which is just an hour from lisi's town so we could really put off the decision.
we enjoyed innsbruck too. it is in a beautiful valley of the northeastern alps. the inn river is a beautiful glacial river, and quite rushing this time of year. it was relaxing. we also met a couple of really cool travellers in that hostel that made the visit even more worthwhile.
it turned out that we did go back to bavaria from innsbruck. we talked with lisi and made plans to crash at her place while she was gone for the weekend and then we would plan when she returned. it turned out that she has only had to be gone part of each day so have had lots of time to plan and spend time together. it has been like special treat. we now have tons of excitement for our upcoming travels and we even got to take an evening stroll in the bavarian hills, listening to the cow bells clammor. we are very happy that we have been able to arrange the time here.
so tomorrow we start anew. we head to venice and from there we will head east. we have about three weeks to play in eastern europe south of poland before we meet lisi to play in poland too.
it is a odd feeling at this point in our travels as we know that things are going to end soon. it is like we are trying to savor every moment instead of the automatic exictement we had at first. also we are tired. it takes a lot of effort to decide and implement the kind of travelling we are doing. every decision is harder now. we still hope to stretch it out unitl august and in order to do even half of what we have planned now we will have to! but we both think of home more often now than we used to. hopefully we will be able to appreciate home when we return the way we appreciate all the new experiences we have here!
hopefully i will find time to write more travelogues in the next couple of months. it seems so hard when we are on the road to find the time as well as the distance from our experiences to be able to write about them. it seems like the more exciting the experiences the less likely i am to write about them!
so on that note i will wish all of you well and hope to hear from
each of you sometime soon!
© Copyright Cheryln Crowl 2000