From having not a drop of rain, we have woken up to a deluge again. Dank u well. The poor people at last night’s Andre Rieu concert must have had a torrid old time. Is it awful to be grateful that it wasn’t us?
It was time for us to set off. Finally we were packed up, rosemary plant safely stowed and back on the road. Border crossing day today! As we wave goodbye and shouted “Oi-oi” to the Netherlands and “ha-llo” to Germany with loads to look forward to, including meeting up with Anja and Joerg (and their additional mini-me, Emil), long term friends from our trip down Africa in 2009-2010.
But first, the Mosel Valley. The birthplace of German Riesling wine and the steepest vineyards in the world – in some places up to an 85o slope!! I kid you not, imagine this: sitting in the stands in a 40,000 people stadium, in the very top row of the very top tier – so high you experience altitude sickness and involuntary nosebleeds. Then, not only having to walk all the way down from those dizzying heights without the assistance of an abseil rope and several beefy instructors to guide you, but having to stop every 10th row, pick up a person, flinging them wantonly over your shoulder and carry them down another 10 rows to put them down and pick someone else up. It requires balls of steel to harvest these grapes – jawol, they make them tough around here! So the next time you pick up a bottle of German Riesling from the Mosel Valley, pause a moment, then have your first drink to the grape pickers!
I’m getting ahead of myself as usual. Before we reached our destination for the day, we (well, one of us!!!) decided that an adventure was to be had to the Eifel Nature Park, home of German volcanoes (all extinct or dormant…..I think). We may have had some duff information from Google () but all we found was a lake….and a very dodgy man in the car park trying to flog us some “very expensive local sparkling wine at a rock bottom price”. I’m thinking maybe the Hummer he was driving spoke louder than he and his blingey gold rings did! Back to the lake…. a really beautiful deep green colour but probably best seen in the sunlight (lacking at the moment). And I was assured by the gorgeous Mr T that this was as a result of the presence of volcanic rock . We started an obligatory quick stroll around said lake but that was fairly soon cut short by the rain making it’s dramatic appearance again. So it was back to Kaya, a hot cup of coffee whilst we steamed up the windows (wet clothes!) and pointed Kaya in the direction of Ernst.
As we started to head down the last hill into Ernst in the valley, the sun broke out and in front of us, the most beautiful view of our first schloss – a real Disney castle on a lone hill bathed in sunlight. By the time I broke out the camera at the bottom of the hill, I managed to get this picture but the drama of the initial view had passed. Next time, I promise!
We parked Kaya up in the stellplatz. Germany is very forward thinking in providing facilites for motorhomes….parking spots with electricity, fresh water and waste disposal all at a very reasonable price of between €5 and €10. And, in this case, because it was on a vineyard, great views and wine tasting and tours on tap! But we had missed the wine tasting and tours, replaced by the volcanoes (!!!), so we opted instead for a walk along the Mosel River and soon happened upon a very friendly restaurant with outside seating, wine “tasting” in much larger glasses and a very exciting plate of German cold cuts and dark bread. I’m in heaven…well to be fair, the gorgeous Mr T was in raptures – give this man a piece of pork and he’s happy, give him a piece of smoked pork and…. stand back – but I was very close beside him!!!
So, what we discovered (besides the hidden delights of chicken schmaltz on our plate) was that Riesling is. indeed, a naturally sweet wine but you can get it sweet, semi-sweet and dry. Dry is wonderful, the rest we’ll leave in the Mosel Valley for someone else to discover.
We woke up the next day to sunshine again (sorry, my obsession with weather knows no bounds!) but to a distinct lack of fresh water, so not wanting to skip a shower (in this heat!!), we moved on to another stellplatz. So easy. But here’s where things start to deteriorate ever so slightly. When we arrive at a new place, we always take a quick walk around to suss out the available spots (best for level, morning sun, afternoon sun and distance from fresh water). We chose a spot only to be urged by that spot’s next door neighbour (they wanted the free space for a braai later that evening), that a place 3 up from them was much better. Trusting folk that we are, we took them up on it only to discover that it was utter rubbish and we just couldn’t level Kaya out. At this time, I need to point out that if you’re not level, the night is spent alternately rolling down slope on the bed, trying not to roll down the slope in the bed and/or clinging on to the edge of the bed trying not to fall out! You understand that being level is very, very important. So we proceeded to move to the spot we had originally chosen.
Dear reader, imagine my utter delight (!!!!???) when an older German gentleman, deciding that I was the little woman at home and really shouldn’t be taking on the heavy responsibility of guiding the gorgeous Mr T and our precious motorhome into the parking spot and took over said responsibility by, ever so gently, trying to guide me away by my elbow. Hell’s teeth (and I know you can picture this if you know me!), it took more restraint than I had ever been able to muster to gently extricate myself and get back to my job of helping to park us – and this all to his frustrated and exasperated tirade in German which by now had everyone in the stellplatz avidly watching and waiting for the next instalment of Carry on Parking. The pressure!!!!!!! But to Grandpa’s (I fear) utter disappointment, I dropped Kaya (with the gorgeous Mr T’s help & fabulous driving, of course – thank you, I love you!) perfectly, in one smooth manoeuvre, into a level spot.
We both needed a stiff drink but it was still not yet noon, so we opted for another walk up the river. Oh, and did I mention that to replace the sugar from the attack of anxiety, it was fairly compulsory to stop and replenish with a glass of wine, a jug of wonderful coffee and a piece of glorious fresh strawberry kuchen (cake, but not as we know it, this is an artform in Germany), not too sweet, not too heavy but would have stopped the Bismark in it’s tracks, it was so large. With lashings of cream. Well, why not, I ask you?