In late August 2017 we loaded the bikes onto the roof rack and headed on a journey across Poland and through Germany. Our goal was to ride through the Moselle River Valley along the German Luxembourg border area. We eschew river cruises and organized tours as we rather enjoy plotting the course ourselves and relish in the unpredictability of making it on our own rather than with a gaggle of tourists. As usual the experiences along the way to the destination were just as interesting as the destination itself. As we passed through south-western Poland we encountered the height of the fall harvest season with many of the farming villages festooned with sculptures and characters made from hay, pumpkins and corn. Unexpectedly while visiting the small town of Jawor we found we were in the midst of their annual “Bread Festival” which was fundamentally a celebration of the completion of the year’s harvest of wheat and other farm products. As with events like this in many countries people from all over the surrounding farming communities descend on the festival for a few days of drinking, dancing and gorging wearing their Sunday best clothes. It was a great surprise and a heck of a lot of fun.
From there it was on to Germany where we traversed the entire country from east to west spending the night along the way in a lovely village B&B. Our initial goal was to reach the city of Koblenz which is where the Moselle and Rhein rivers join at what is called Deutsches Eck (German Corner). We spent a couple of nights at a lovely apartment with terrific owners who not only showed us around the city but also brought us crispy fresh bread and rolls each morning. Wonderful people. We then loaded our bikes onto the Deutsche Bahn and headed down the Moselle. Our ride back up was about 200 easy miles all along the Moselle through fairy tale, picturesque villages, vineyards and occasional wood lands. Travelling through wine areas is always one of our favourites as the combination of the wine culture and culinary combinations are fascinating. In addition our experience has been those people living and working in these areas no matter what country, are friendly open and a lot of fun.
The Mosel vineyards are focused on the Riesling grape which has been planted in the area beginning in Roman times almost 2,000 years ago. The stories about the area and the historic wine culture are amazing in their own right. Most of the vineyards have been in the hands of families for many, many generations and it’s very interesting to have the chance to chat with the vintners and locals about their family heritage. Imagine the Romans occupying the valley and the leader saying, “Hey, this area looks great for vineyards, you two guys head back to Italy and bring back some wines – two years later they return… (http://en.bernkastel.de/holiday-region/what-to-see-and-do/romans-by-the-moselle.html)
As you’ll see in the photos below the sloping steep hills along the Moselle are literally covered with vineyards and dotted with regal castles occupying the strategic high grounds along the way. Every inch of the Moselle Valley is valued for its terroir and the micro climate so much so that in order to work the vineyards some of the vintners resort to mini cog railway type conveyances to reach their vines.
Reaching the area just before the grapes were being harvested we were treated to fall grape harvest festivals in many of the gorgeous towns and villages along the river. Terrific experiences.
After 10 days riding along the Moselle we reached Deutsches Eck in Koblenz again, turned the corner and headed down the Rhine for a few days. For our last day on the Rhine we elected to take the bikes onto a small ship and relax for a few hours returning to Koblenz in our car.
There were many noteworthy German villages and spots along the journey. Three really stand out: Bernkastle Kues (http://en.bernkastel.de/homepage.html), Alsfeld (http://www.mygermancity.com/alsfeld), Beilstein (http://www.mygermancity.com/beilstein)
Slide show below will scroll through the photos. For more of an individual look, click on a photo from the grid below it.