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Mosel & Wine - Western Germany

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Early September and the weather was gloriously warm and sunny as we set off for the Roman town of Trier. It is reputedly the oldest town in Germany and was brought to prominence by the Romans. The main sight is the Porta Negra (left) a large gate that has been blackened with age, hence the name. There are plenty of other Roman ruins including three sets of baths and an amphitheatre. The amphitheatre also includes the structure under the arena where the lions and slaves were kept. The later parts of Trier are very 'chocolate box' German, the town square is very pretty and as you can see below it looks very toy like.

Trier is right in the Mosel wine area and we just had to visit one of the local weingutes. The Von Nell estate provided a very agreeable end to the day. We turned up and asked to sample the wines. The owner plied us with samples of his different wines, mostly white but with some red. The local white wines are very good, a good bouquet and with a clean and refreshing taste, better than the heavily oaked Chardonnays that are more common back home in the UK. The reds are not to my taste as I prefer more body, so I'll stick to Australian for red. We sat in the sun, drank them and tried to decide which ones to buy. The walk back to town in the evening sunshine was bit slower than the walk to the weingute.

The following day we drove slowly down the Mosel Valley from Trier to Cochem. This was a really beautiful drive. The river winds its way through the hills and the sides are covered in grape vines. The road follows the river and so every bend in the river changes the view. After the flatness of Brandenburg the rolling hills and changing views were in marked contrast and very welcome. We stopped for lunch in a small town, Bern Kastel, and it was very pretty. It was a classical stereotype of a German town with heavily decorated and half timbered buildings. Lunch was the local speciality, zwiebel kuchen and feder weisse. Zwiebel kuchen is like an onion quiche and the feder weisse is made from the early grape harvest.

We continued down the valley to Cochem, home for the night. Our hotel was up the hill a way and the view to the right is the one from our room. The next day we went for cruise on the river with one of the many companies that go up and down the river.

The short drive from Cochem down to Koblenz completed our journey on the Mosel. We stopped at the Deutsches Eck, where the Mosel and Rhine meet. The large statue is a bit pompous but the way that the two rivers come together is exciting as the currents are very strong. Now that the Mosel was finished we started up the Rhine. This stretch, the Rhine Gorge, is the most famous part of the river. We drove along the river with all the spectacular castles and the drove up to the view point at the Loreley. A lot of boats have been wrecked on these rocks here and legend has that a beautiful blonde woman combing her hair sang songs to lure the sailors on to the rocks. The view down the river was spectacular, the scenery is impressive but so is the amount of traffic on the river. The day finished with arrival in Speyer.

Speyer is another old town with a large Romanesque cathedral. A quick walk around the town sufficed and then it was back into the car for the Deutsche Weinstrasse. We had been tipped off about a very good weingute. We arrived and it looked like it was just a large house. We found someone and asked about wine tasting. We were then plied with a whole range of wines. The whites again were particularily good. We bought a couple of crates and then it was back to the car for the long haul over to Nuremberg.

Nuremberg is an old medieval town that has been at the cross roads of Europe for most of its history. The old town has been faithfully rebuilt following near total destruction in World War 2. There is a large castle and from this the old city walls run around the city. The castle has couple of towers, one of which can be climbed and gives a good view from the top. We spent the day walking around the city center and the castle. Food and drink is easily catered for:- sausages and beer. Being Bavaria there are a number of beer halls and we just had to visit some of them. Nuremberger Roast Bratwurst are the best of many sausages in Germany

On the last day we decided to visit the remains of the Nazi Part Rally Grounds. The guide books describe them in detail but it is difficult to believe that they are still standing because of their association with the evils of the time. The obvious symbols have been removed, everything is decaying and there is a sombre air. However, everything is recognisable. The picture shows the podium on which Hitler gave his speeches. There is a museum that covers the history the rule of the Nazis and what they did in Germany in that time.

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