Saturday, June 04, 2005

Bernkastel-Kues On The Mosel

I've been in Germany almost two years, and I'm still amazed at how little I know about my immediate area. For instance, I've often heard about a place called Bernkastel-Kues. Everyone at work who'd been there raved about it, but silly me, I never asked where it was. I found out last night it is only about an hour away from my home.

Bernkastel-Kues is a small town located on the Mosel River. If you close your eyes and try to picture a classic Germany town, the kind of German town you would want to see if you came to Germany, this is the place.

I got there last night via boat. A group of teachers from the Baumholder area all pitched in to rent one for a two-hour evening cruise with dinner on the Mosel, then some time to walk around Bernkastel-Kues at dusk before hopping on a bus back to Baumholder. Other than some rain halfway through the boat trip, it was a great evening.

One of the geeky highlights on the boat ride (other than the above average food and beers) was getting first-hand experience in a river lock, where the boat was squeezed into a tight box, water was flooded in to raise the boat about fifteen feet, and then a gate opened to send us on our merry way up the Mosel. Facinating process, though maybe you had to be there.

After two hours or so of eating, drinking, and snapping pictures of the villages along the Mosel, we arrived in Bernkastel-Kues with its castle looming overhead. We had a little over an hour to wander down winding streets that were nearly deserted at 8 p.m. I was assured that deeper into tourist season the place will be packed, but last night we had the town and its over 400-year old classic German style buildings nearly to ourselves.

The couple I was with eventually ended up at a cemetary carved out of a hill overlooking the town. My morbid side loves a good cemetary, and this one didn't disappoint. Even though I'm not a religious person, I had to be impressed by some of the statues and other carvings. One Jesus cruxifiction was particularly outstanding. Makes great catholic desktop wallpaper.

Never made it up to the castle, instead making our way back down to the river to enjoy some coffee and a spectacular sunset at a riverside cafe complete with a flock of swans enjoying their quiet Friday night. For those not into sunsets, there was also a rare look at a Porsche SUV. Honestly, you'd have to be rolling in cash to afford to drive something like that in a country where gas will set you back six bucks a gallon.

In short, I now have a new place to take anyone who makes it out here for a visit. If my mom and Marcela thought Trier was great last summer, they'll love Bernkastel-Kues this time around.


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