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ManVanNoPlan Visits Heidelberg, Trier & The Moselle Valley

ManVanNoPlan Visits Heidelberg, Trier & The Moselle Valley
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Week 4 of the 2022 Autumn Road Trip
Friday 28th of October 
Day 25 – Heidelberg (49.391417,8.671281)

Yesterday, we hardly walked any distance so hopefully the rest means we’re fully prepared for today’s exertions. According to Google Maps it’s a 45 minute walk into the centre of Heidelberg from the Stellplatz, but I’d say it was double that, so it was great to see a tram stop at the end of the street the Stellplatz is on.

€2.90 tickets x 2 and ten minutes later we were getting off at Bismarckplatz to begin exploring. The traffic-free main street in the historic Old City of Heidelberg stretches almost a mile from Bismarckplatz to Marktplatz and is said to be one of the most attractive pedestrian zones in Europe and a magnet for both tourists and locals alike. As well as visiting well-known national and international branded stores, you can browse in countless small boutiques and refresh yourself at outdoor cafés and restaurants.

The quality of the shops was impressive and most were now beginning to display their Christmas stock, and the Germans seem to go for expensive looking Christmas decorations in a big way. We wandered down the street, which by the way is the longest pedestrianised shopping street in Europe, but most of the items were way too expensive for our budget. That said, The Navigator’s eyes lit up when she saw a Hema store, so that had to be investigated to see if a German Hema had any different items than the Dutch Hema. It didn’t!

The Hauptstraße runs for 1.4km and at the end it opens up into the market square which is dominated by the Church of the Holy Spirit, which unfortunately does not compare with the churches and cathedrals we have seen on this trip so far.

From the main square it is only a hundred yards down to the banks of the river Neckar, a prominent river in Germany which flows into the Rhine not too far from here. The Karl Theodor Bridge was completed nearly 250 years ago, and it has the nickname of “Old Bridge” apparantly.

When you stand on the bridge and look back towards the city you get the first clear view of the magnificent Heidelberg Castle, which would be our destination after lunch.

Since the thirteenth century, there have been eight bridges on the site, with most damaged by ice floes in the winter. As early as the 15th century there has been a statue of a monkey on the Old Bridge holding a mirror, which disappeared during the Nine Years’ War. The current statue was designed by Gernot Rumpf and erected in 1979. The statue holds a mirror in one hand and forms the sign of the horns with the other.

Tourists can place their heads within the monkey’s head, although The Navigator was a bit on the short side to get into it properly! Local legend has it that rubbing the mirror brings good luck, rubbing the fingers ensure a return to Heidelberg, and the little bronze-cast mice nearby bring fertility.
I’ll take two out of three in this instance!

While walking along the Hauptstraße earlier we saw somewhere we both thought would be good for lunch so walked back to it. I’m sure it’s the law in Germany that on your first full day in the country you must have Currywurst, but maybe I’m making that ‘fact’ up. I had it anyway just in case it is the law, but The Navigator went for the healthy option, and we both thoroughly enjoyed our lunch.

Suitably refreshed and ready for the afternoon ahead, we walked back towards the square and on towards the funicular railway which would take us effortlessly up to Heidelberg Castle, said to be among the most important Renaissance structures north of the Alps. To get to the funicular we had to cross through another rather pretty square and it seemed to be the venue for a few bijou wedding celebrations. 

If you look carefully at the following picture you can see a bride on the right, a bride in the centre and one on the left in the white trouser suit.

We stood for a while and took in all the activity and post wedding celebrations, but one thing struck us about the bride in the centre in the above picture, and below. The poor groom, only a few minutes married, had to play a subsidiary role to the bride’s dog, which had to be front and centre in all their official wedding photographs so the dynamic in this relationship will be interesting going forward!

The castle has had a turbulent history and has only been partially rebuilt since its demolition in the 17th and 18th centuries. It is located 80 metres (260 ft) up the northern part of the Königstuhl hillside, and thereby dominates the view of the old downtown.

We spent most of the afternoon wandering about and marvelling at the scale of the ruins and the incredible views of Heidelberg and the Neckar river. It was warm, but the sun was obscured for most of the day, although when it found a gap in the clouds, the city below us was lit up beautifully. There was a café near the entrance and we had a cuppa before descending on the funicular again and heading slowly along the Hauptstraße to get the tram back to the Stellplatz.

I should have mentioned earlier that masks are still required on public transport in Germany and we would not have been allowed on the funicular railway without them. I sometimes wonder what The Navigator carries about in her backpack but I learned today that masks are certainly some of the items in it.
I sat outside as it was a mild evening until it was pitch black and then retreated inside Bessie. All 42 pitches were taken tonight with 39 German vans, 1 Finnish, 1 Dutch and 1 British van (us), which is surprisingly low number, given how popular a tourist destination Heidelberg is.

Saturday 29th of October 
Day 26 – Heidelberg to Trier (49.740286, 6.624830)

Heidelberg was always going to be the place where a decision had to be made. Join the Rhine and follow it up past Frankfurt, Cologne, Bonn and Dusseldorf, heading for the Netherlands and the ferry home on the 11th of November. The other alternative was to head west from here and join the Moselle at Trier and follow it up towards Koblenz where it joins the Rhine.

We’ve been to all of the places mentioned in the previous two paragraphs, but, in my opinion, the Moselle is by far the prettiest of the two river valleys, so we were up sharpish this morning to head for the ancient Roman city of Trier. There’s a huge Stellplatz at Trier within walking distance of the city centre, so, as this is a Saturday, we want to be there as early as possible to have a chance of getting a pitch for the night.

From the outskirts of Heidelberg to the outskirts of Trier was just over two hours on dual-carriageway all of the way. The road along the river in Trier was chock-a-block but we made it to the almost full Stellplatz and found one of the last spaces. 

We had a snack for lunch then set off for the huge car boot sale which was on close to the Stellplatz, probably the size of two football fields, and we can report that German tat is much the same as British tat! The one stand-out stall was the one in the picture below which had the largest apples you could wish for.

From there we set of to walk along the Moselle and into the centrum. I can’t remember what day of the week it was when we were last here but it certainly wasn’t a Saturday afternoon. The place was mobbed and although it wasn’t particularly sunny, it was another warm day and it certainly brought the crowds out.

Founded by the Celts in the late 4th century BC, Trier was conquered 300 years later by the Romans, who renamed it “The City of Augustus among the Treveri”. Trier is considered Germany’s oldest city and it is also the oldest seat of a bishop north of the Alps. Trier was one of the four capitals of the Roman Empire during the Tetrarchy period in the late 3rd and early 4th centuries.

The last time we were here we cycled to see all of the well preserved Roman remains, but this time we walked in and contented ourselves with the amazing Porta Nigra, the best-preserved Roman city gate north of the Alps.

Other notable  sights to see in Trier are…
– The huge Aula Palatina, a basilica in the original Roman sense, was the 67 m (219.82 ft) long throne hall of Roman emperor Constantine.
– The Roman Trier Amphitheater.
– The 2nd century AD Roman bridge which we used to cross the Moselle, the oldest bridge north of the Alps still crossed by traffic.
– Ruins of three Roman baths, among them the largest Roman baths north of the Alps, including the Barbara Baths and the Trier Imperial Baths.

As I said, we saw most of the above the last time we were here so we’re content to wander with the crowds along the main streets. The Porta Nigri is the furthest point most people make it to and it defies belief that this massive structure is still standing almost two thousand years after it was built.

Trier Cathedral, a Catholic church that dates back to Roman times; its Romanesque west façade with an extra apse and four towers is imposing and has been copied repeatedly. The Cathedral is home to the Holy Tunic, a garment said to be the robe Jesus was wearing when he died, as well as many other relics in the Cathedral Treasury.

Like Heidelberg yesterday, the shops in Trier are at the premium end of the scale and most are housed in very well renovated historic buildings, especially the ones in the main square. In the main square there was a large open kiosk selling wine by the (real) glass and it struck us that if this was in the UK the wine would be dispensed in paper cups (‘elf and safety!) and there would not the same relaxed atmosphere.

We wandered about for ages and The Navigator treated herself to a new pair of walking shoes and I had a wurst at the same shop I had one on our last visit. We were flagging by this time and we needed another sit down so The Navigator had her second latte of the afternoon and I had a black tea with a shared apple slice at Tschibo.

There was a huge funfair in progress in one of the squares we passed on our return journey. Again there was a kiosk selling wine and beer with everyone enjoying the afternoon with no sign of anyone abusing the ready supply of alcohol. Can you see the guy giving me the thumbs up for taking a picture of his collection of sausages. I was tempted, after all when in Germany… but I had my ration of sausage for today so reluctantly walked on!

We’ve walked over 30,000 steps over the last two days, which might not be a lot for some people reading this, but it wiped us out! The walk back to Bessie was agonising and one thing is for sure, tomorrow will not involve walking!

Inexpensive Christmas Gift Ideas…

Titles for the four nations also include, Best Wife, Best Mum, Best Son, Best Dog & Best Cat!

See the full range of titles HERE.

Sunday 30th of October 
Day 27 – Trier to Mehring (49.793621, 6.818236)

Not surprisingly, after our exertions over the past two days that this Sunday was declared a day of rest.

There was an early morning exodus from the site at Trier, no doubt weekenders heading for home. We weren’t going far today, less than half an hour up the Moselle to the village of Mehring. It was a proper pea-souper when we left the site and it would be almost lunchtime before it would clear.

We’ve been on the Mehring site before and know exactly where it is in the village but as we were about a mile or so from the Stellplatz, Google Maps indicated I should turn right then take a left to run parallel to the main road we were on. I dutifully obeyed, only to find that it was no more than a cycleway and it was too late to turn round, even if I could have.

There was nothing else for it but to carry on and hope there was a way back onto the main road, which eventually there was. We must now be the talk of the Mehring Sunday walkers and cyclists as this British motorhome scattered them!

The last time we were here we were on the third row back from the prime position of the riverside pitches but this morning we were lucky as vans were leaving here too so we drove straight onto a prized pitch looking straight onto the Moselle.

After securing the pitch, we then drove to service the van and managed to get into a bit of a barney with, we assumed, someone from the site who was indicating we couldn’t use the services and we should leave forthwith. (Or German words we didn’t understand,to that effect.)

The jist of it is, he thought we had come onto the services from the main road and that wasn’t allowed. We assured him that we were going to stay on his site, but we needed to service the van first. Eventually the penny dropped and with WW3 averted, we then returned to our pitch. The wine regions of Germany are prosperous and in the picture below you can see the stunning properties associated with the vineyards on the slopes in front of them.

There was one other British motorhome here as well as us and the graphic on the back of their van was www.travelswithnicolle.co.uk, so, after plugging into the mains, I checked out their site. Later on in the afternoon we had the pleasure of talking to John and Sue, an intrepid and interesting couple who have visited over a hundred countries in their time, including sixty three in the two motorhomes they’ve owned. They’ve shipped their motorhome to the USA and toured extensively there and to South Africa and twelve other African countries. An enviable achievement!

You may ask what the attraction is of touring the Moselle Valley. Well, this next picture sums up what the Germans love about it. The ability to sit outside with a glass of wine, or bottle of beer, and watch walkers, cyclists and river barges go past makes for a great image of touring the river valleys of Germany.

The sun had burned off the fog and we were treated to a beautiful afternoon with a few hot air balloons taking to the skies and jet skiers zooming past us, along with pleasure craft and huge barges. One massive hotel boat passed heading towards Trier, probably to disembark the passengers in the city tomorrow. And that was about the sum of today’s excitement, with more of the same to come in the next few days as we progress north up the Moselle Valley…

Monday 31st of October
Day 28 – Mehring to Trittenheim (49.824700, 6.903200)

We were only moving on less than half an hour away so there was no need for an early start. There was a bit of sparse mist on the hilltops but nothing like it was yesterday morning. There was an exodus this morning, including John and Sue who were bound for Trier before heading for Calais for their crossing at the end of the week. Bessie was in a bit of a state after yesterday’s cycle path diversion but we would not find a jet wash until we were back in Lochgilphead!

I’m not sure if the campsite owns the petrol station or vice versa but it was handy to top Bessie up with diesel before setting off. The drive to Trittenheim was straightforward enough with steep vineyards on our left and the Moselle to our right.

We were fortunate to again get a prime pitch on the riverside and as the sun came out in the late morning we were treated to a beautiful view over the river to the vineyards on the other bank with the occasional barge gliding past.

After lunch, we went for a walk along to the bridge and then into the small town, but this being a Monday, everything was closed, not that there was much to be open. Many small wine growers have their premises in the town, but they were mostly closed as well.

Back at the van we sat outside for a while with a cuppa and enjoyed just sitting and doing nothing. A few barges sailed passed but the highlight of the afternoon was when a yellow seaplane flew past us and landed a few hundred yards past us.

Around four o’clock the sun went behind a cloud and it became ‘fresh’ so we retired inside Bessie. The Navigator has been under the weather over the last few days, but seems to be on the mend again.

Tuesday 1st of November
Day 29 – Trittenheim to Minheim (49.864983, 6.942192)

There’s a bit of a theme developing when I say ‘we were only moving on less than half an hour away so there was no need for an early start”. I’ve said that for the last two days but today is the shortest move of this whole trip – twelve minutes!

Minheim is yet another little wine village with a riverside Stellplatz and is a favourite of our chums, Garry and Carol, so we had to stay over to see why they like it so much.

On the way, we thought we’d pop into a Netto supermarket for a few things and buy some wine, but after maneuvering the van into the only car park space that could accommodate the length of Bessie, we found the store was shut!

Never mind, there’s a bigger Edeca supermarket in the next village of Piesport, but it was closed too. According to the sign on the doors of both supermarkets they should have been open so can only think it was a local holiday.

The Stellplatz at Minheim is yet another that is directly on the Moselle with only a cycle path separating the site from the river. As we are now into November and the clocks have just changed, the hours of daylight are lessening now and the sun is not rising as high in the sky, and that is a problem if you are in the bottom of a valley with steep sides!

We managed to drive straight onto a pitch on the first row facing the river but as the sun had not risen above the steep wooded bank on the other side of the river, we were in the shade for all but an hour or so. Vans further back on the third row were in sunshine, so the dilemma was, stay on this pitch with the direct view of the river, or move back to be in the sunshine.

We chose to stay on the riverside and hope the sun would rise to shine on us, and about midday that’s what happened so the table, chairs and barbecue were set up and we had our lunch outside for only the second time on this trip – on day 29!

It was bright, sunny, and warm until four o’clock and we sat out until then enjoying a few glasses of wine. I’m drinking a delicious €1.99 South African Chenin Blanc and The Navigator is quaffing a French Malbec, which she is enjoying.

Quite a few vans left in the late afternoon just before the guy came round to collect the €8.80 overnight fee, which was very reasonable with electricity an option to pay as you use it.

The odd huge river barge would pass by occasionally and one massive Swiss hotel ship sparked a debate as to the merits of cruising on rivers such as the Moselle, Rhine or Danube with The Navigator open to considering it but the fact of dressing up for dinner ruled it out for me.

Wednesday 2nd of November
Day 30 – Minheim & Piesport

Another dry and sunny day was in prospect so we decided to cycle into the next village of Piesport, source of the well known Piesporter white wine.

There is a wide tarmac cycle path along side the Moselle and we followed that to the far side of Piesport as we were heading for Edeka, the supermarket which was closed yesterday when we passed in Bessie. Our time in Germany is coming to an end in a couple of days so there were a few German specialities we wanted for immediate consumption and for the upcoming festive period. In the supermarket there were few bottles of wine under €5, my benchmark, and the average was about €7.50, more than I’m used to paying!

Mission accomplished, we headed back towards Minheim and deviated from the cycle path into the village itself but like so many villages we’ve passed through, most businesses were closed. We had hoped to visit a wine grower and sample some of their wares but they were probably either too busy making this year’s vintage or having a holiday after processing this year’s crop. The Navigator was in her element cycling on these riverside paths which are traffic free and safe and it was a lovely day which was the icing on the cake.

Back at the van we sat outside for a while enjoying the warmth of the sunshine and decided to have another barbecue which may be the last chance we will get before returning home. To think we are into November now and are having a barbecue on the banks of the Moselle!

Before returning the bikes and barbecue to the garage, The Navigator cleaned the floor as it’s the first time on this trip we’ve had the time to do it. The sun dipped behind the hill opposite us, signalling it was time to retreat indoors as the outside temperature drops quite quickly.

We enjoyed it here and for 8.80 a night, with such a great view, it’s exceptional value. Tomorrow is our last full day in Germany and we are looking forward to it as we will be spending the day in Bernkastel, one of the prettiest towns on the Moselle.

Thursday 3rd of November.
Day 31 – Minheim to Zeltingen-Rachtig (49.954594, 7.009054) via Bernkastel.

It was a sort of up and at ’em morning as we had a lot to pack into the day.

First on the agenda would be a trip to Lidl in Bernkastel for enough German delights to see us through for the rest of the week, if not beyond. The main ‘delight’ we were aiming to stock up on was wine but this branch of Lidl had the worst selection of wines I’ve ever seen, especially to be in such an important wine town. Second stop would now have to be Aldi, but they did not have any suitable spaces to park Bessie so that mission was aborted.

The original plan was to visit Lidl then head to a Stellplatz a few miles north of Bernkastel and cycle back into the town but there is a dedicated motorhome parking space (not overnight) on the west bank of the river within a hop, skip and jump to the historic town centre so we decided to park there an ‘do’ Bernkastel before heading for the Stellplatz.

Bernkastel is quite a large town as far as Moselle towns go and the ancient east side is really beautiful with a large number of Medieval buildings stretching as far back as the 1400s. This is our fourth visit to Bernkastel and we’ve never seen it so quiet, even though there were two large hotel boats tied up to let their guests visit this beautiful place.

The main square, which is usually heaving with tourists was so quiet I managed to get quite a few photographs with no people in them! We had a good wander about and found streets we’d never been on before.

The last time we were here was in a July with our previous van on our way back from the south of France via Switzerland. We had a lovely meal for my birthday here and so we found the same restaurant and had an excellent lunch to end our stay in Germany.

We had a meander around Bernkastel to walk off our lunch and the lack of fellow tourists was still evident!

We headed back to Bessie to set a course for the Stellplatz a few miles away, but when we got to it, it was closed, which was highly unusual, given there are a fair few motorhomes still on the road in the Moselle valley. There is a Stellplatz in almost every riverside village so I continued driving and as expected the next village of Zeltingen-Rachtig had somewhere to stay, right on the banks of the Moselle for only €12 including electricity.

It was mid afternoon by this stage and after we had a cuppa it started to rain so any thought of having a walk to explore the village were shelved. This site had a feature we had never seen before and that was a wine bottle vending machine which would not last 10 minutes in most UK towns or villages I fear!

The Moselle Valley continues on for some distance and we have toured along it’s full length over the years and would have loved to continue onwards at a leisurely pace but time is beginning to run out for us. Tomorrow is Friday the 4th of November and we have to be at the Hook of Holland for our ferry back to Blighty on the 11th. The Navigator has always said (code for insisted) that she wanted a full week in The Netherlands before returning home, so tomorrow, we head off out of Germany, through Belgium and into the Netherlands for our final week of this 2022, 6 week Autumnal Tour.

The above map shows where we were in this blog post…

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We will be packing a lot in to our final week, including visits to places old (Maastricht & Gouda) and new (Dordrecht). 

Stay tuned, and if you are not already SUBSCRIBED sign up to be notified of the new blogs when they go online. 

PS – The Fyne Editions website has had a makeover and tons of new titles have been added in the past few weeks so check it out HERE and find lots of inexpensive stocking fillers for Christmas…

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