2008 European adventure: Breidel to Aachen

Summary: On the final leg of our trip, Mandi, her mom Bette, Bette’s mom Nancy, Nancy’s friend Cassie, and I made our way from Hahn airport to Breidel on the Mosel River to Beilstein, Burg Eltz, and a rendezvous with our friends in Aachen. Mandi and I headed back home via Frankfurt airport while the others stayed a couple more days.

25 October

Our Ryanair flight back to Germany didn’t suck too much – they did try to sell us lottery tickets and booze but they were roughly on time and didn’t hit any birds. A drunken guy got up while we were taxiing though, so someone was buying the booze.

Mandi went looking for our rental car while I sat on the luggage. We ended up with another sweet minivan, this time a VW Touran. Is that the same minivan as the Routan that Brooke Shields is trying to sell Americans? It was comfortable enough, black, and had a navigation thing. Unfortunately, the navigation thing only seemed to know German, so we got a bit lost before we managed to decode enough German to get headed towards Breidel. I never did figure out how to change the language, so by the time we got to Frankfurt we knew a smattering of navigation-related German words.

I’d reserved us a couple of rooms in Weingut Reis-Kroth. The owners’ daughter had helped translate my emails so I wasn’t sure what we’d find there. Lucky for us, they were very friendly and the place was nice so it worked out great. They found us a place in town to have dinner, Breidler House, which was loaded with masterpieces of taxidermy, but did have good food and nice Mosel Riesling. In the morning we had breakfast at the weingut, got a tour of the wine cellar, and bought some wine.

Fresco in Beilstein

26 October

We wanted to visit the Jewish cemetery above Beilstein, but we figured the hike up the hill might be tough, so Mandi tried driving up. I thought we’d get stuck or high-centered and Bette thought we’d roll down the hillside, but we made it up to the castle without incident. The castle is a jumble of ruins with a beer garden inside, only worth it if you’re thirsty. The view of the Mosel River with the castle is a classic though, and a short walk up the hill leads to the evocative little Jewish cemetery. With only a couple of other people around, it was quite a different experience from the Jewish cemetery in Prague, where we were in the middle of a crowd.

River boat in Beilstein

Mandi didn’t let Bette and I ride back down in the minivan for fear of sickness or screaming, so we walked. There’s a cute little chapel between the cemetery and the castle, then some fresco things along the path down, and another chapel in town – I assume all maintained by someone at the monastery. At the town square we ran into a crowd entranced by a choir performance. When that ended we spotted Mandi and the ladies having tea and espresso at Gute Quelle, where Mandi and I stayed a couple of years ago. We’d tried to stay there again for the night of the 25th, but they were full – staying at Reis-Kroth weingut was at least as fun as staying in Beilstein though.

We should have had lunch right there in Beilstein, but we did need to get to Aachen sometime so we headed for Burg Eltz. On the way there the whining of hungry travellers overcame our driver and we stopped at Landhaus Neuhof for lunch. The house speciality was some sort of flame-broiled pizza thing. I had a salad, but Bette and Mandi seemed to enjoy their pizza thing. There was some sort of horse activity going on behind the restaurant, so Bette and Mandi were completely distracted through the meal.

Bette at Burg Eltz

Burg Eltz was as impressive as the last time we visited. It’s a big old castle that was never destroyed during the golden age of castle destroying – so it presumably looks just like it did hundreds of years ago, and still has all the fun historic stuff inside. I’d gone on the tour the last time, so i decided to hike up the hill above the castle for some exercise and some photos from a different angle. The others took the shuttle in and out while Bette and I walked for still more photos.

Our German-speaking navigation thing led us right to Aachen, with one rest stop for snacks and coffee. After a little confusion we found our friends Silke and Markus’ place and met Renata, who was letting us stay in her spare apartment.

Monschau at dusk

27 October

In the morning our friends Joseph, Silke, and Markus led us on a tour of central Aachen. We stopped at the city hall and the cathedral, and wandered around. Renata made us lunch and we headed off to Monschau. Monschau is a little old town that looks something like Beilstein, but with a small river running through it. It was cold and drizzly so once we were nearly hypothermic we stopped for tea and apple strudel. We missed the castle above town in the daylight, but your hosts were not deterred – we went for a spooky walk through it in the dark. Okay, it wasn’t really all that spooky since the castle complex hosts a youth camp and it’s fully lighted and Silke and Markus’ son came along and didn’t seem afraid, but still! There’s an old mustard mill in Monschau, with an attached restaurant where we had dinner. I had some venison goulash, I assume with a mustard sauce.

Our hosts talked Mandi and I into leaving very early in the morning for our flight, a good thing because we did hit some traffic around Cologne on our way to the Frankfurt airport. Bette, Nancy, and Cassie stayed a couple more days and got to go to Maastricht, which sounded pretty cool.

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By isaac

I like cats. he/him