Thursday, May 12, 2016

Cochem, Burg Eltz, and the Mosel Valley, Germany

Next we wandered into the beautiful Mosel Valley of Germany.  This is a popular tourist spot even for the Germans, with beautiful vineyards up unbelievably steep hillsides, quintessential German housing, amazingly preserved castles, and lots of little mid evil villages that can be walked through.  It was amazing to see all of the structure and planning that went into these towns so many years ago.  It appears the Germans have always been efficient and organized.
Cochem was our first mid evil castle to visit.  It is immaculate in its presentation and quite an impressive site.  It was owned by royalty initially, and then by rich people, and finally the Nazi party forced the owner to sell it to the Nazis.  It is now owned by the government.  The tour was very informative and educational, but this is not a place that they let you wander through freely.  The tour guide is there to watch and lead you every step of the way, and even took the time to show us the secret passages, Eli felt special because he got to press the secret foot lever and open the door hidden in the wooden paneling of the wall. 

Each room was beautifully furnished, but cold.  Castles are always cold.
We finally had a chance to try true German sausage.  Max has been looking forward to this day for quite a while.  He had enough of seafood, French frogs legs, or any other European fare.  Sausage it was, although they rather cleverly make it look like what we know as a hotdog, and I believe he was impressed.
This was by far the tallest suit of armor we have seen thus far.  The normal size armor is to Max's right, at a little over 5 feet tall.  This huge piece of armor was for a warrior that was coming up on 7 feet tall!  He truly must have been a giant of  a warrior in his time.
Tessa, "Today we went to a castle.  We saw the dining room, the hunter room, a couple of other rooms, secret passages, the weapon room, the knight room, the balcony and well, and a witch tower.  We got chocolate coins and it was mostly good, just don't like the other language."  March 17, 2016

In the little town we noticed towns and squares all over with beautiful displays to celebrate the coming Easter season.  All of the wreaths had Easter eggs woven throughout them.

Burg Eltz, (Rick Steve's favorite castle) was a must see for us.  It is a castle that has never been conquered and is still owned by the descendants of royalty.  The owners use it as a summer home so certain parts are blocked off for their use, while the rest is open for tourists.  For 2 Euro per person you can take a bus up to the front gates, or you can walk 1.5 km along the forest trail to it.  We opted to stretch our legs and walk.   The castle trail also provided a numerous supply of sticks to play with.  Who could ask for more?  We spent 1.5 km fighting and conquering with our swords.

The Burg Eltz castle was situated on a beautiful hill with a natural river around it.  It was easy to see why it would have been so hard to conquer.  The Eltz family attribute their success to a prime location and strategic marriages to ensure their safety.
Here is the genealogical line of the Eltz family on display.
This displays at the castle were really quite impressive.  We really enjoyed seeing the treasury and all of the mid evil artifacts throughout the castle.
Max, "We went to a castle noted the best in Europe, which is a pretty high title.  We walked and sword fought our way down to the castle.  We first went down into the treasury.  We saw a dueling kit and a hunting sword that looked like a giant serrated knife.  Then we caught and ENGLISH tour.  We learned that 3 families lived in the castle and one died out and another sold its part to the other so just one family controlled it."

Here is a picture of fine German food.  They have no problem dousing their food in creams and dairy products.  It is absolutely delicious, and full of flavor, but not good for a lean diet.
Ah, picturesque Germany.
March 19, 2016

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