– or- Where we went next after Ireland.
The day we left Ireland, we parted ways with Laura and Gail and continued on to Frankfurt, Germany where our next “da-venture” –a bike & barge trip- was scheduled to begin.
After overnighting at the Sheraton Airport Hotel, which was conveniently located adjacent to both the airport and the airport train station, we caught our train to the small town of Saarburg, Germany –a trip of about 3 hours total, with one train change along the way.
It was quite cold that morning standing outside waiting for our trains and we were beginning to wonder if we hadn’t, once again, put ourselves on a bike trip where the weather wasn’t going to be enjoyable. Time would tell.
The beginning of the train ride was along the Rhine River and I was excited to see that we were passing along the same stretch of river that my sister Amy and I had seen on an afternoon river cruise when she and I were in Germany about 10 years ago. I must have taken about 20 pictures and not one of them turned out OK. Passing along the Rhine River through that area by boat or by train is a visual feast. So many picturesque little towns tucked into the very steep river valley, amid wall to wall vineyards. The Mosel River, which we would be biking along during the week, said “Hold my beer!” and took “picturesque” to a whole different level.
The Mosel River valley is home to some of the oldest vineyards in Germany. It is believed that the grapevines were first planted by the Romans in the 2nd century. The area is famous for producing mainly white wines, especially Riesling, from vineyards that climb up the awe-inducing slopes of the valley. There is one area where the gradient is as steep as 70 degrees! Due to the steep slopes, this area is considered to have the most labor-intensive vineyards in the world.
It didn’t seem that long before we arrived in Saarburg.
I’d done some “Googling” and knew that our home for the week –the barge Patria- was going to be tied up at a mooring on the opposite side of the river from the train station, which was only a block or two away from the bridge we needed to cross to get to the barge. We started hoofing it, dragging our bags and keeping a skeptical eye on the weather because it looked like it was going to rain any second.
As we approached the bridge, we got our first glimpse of the Patria. So close and yet so far. It was a welcome sight as we scurried across the bridge as fast as we could.
We almost made it too, before the rain came!! Just as we were about 100 feet from the gangplank, the heavens opened as if to say -you really thought you’d have perfect weather this week?
A deckhand came running out and helped us get everything inside before we were totally soaked. The bad news was that it was too early for us to check in. That meant our bags could stay and wait for us –but we had to go back out in the rain and find something else to do for a couple of hours. We rifled through our bags long enough to get our rain gear on and headed out to walk through the village.
Fortunately, the rain let up for most of our walk and it turned out to be a fairly decent day after all. Our main goal for the afternoon was to enjoy seeing the village while searching for a grocery store to stock up on some basic supplies to keep on hand in our cabin. We would have liked to stop somewhere for a bite to eat or perhaps a beverage, but nothing seemed open at the time of day we were walking around.
This was a pretty landscaped area near the Patria. The road is for cars to get from the bridge down to the riverside.
Looks like we’re doing a bit of uphill climbing to get to the “downtown” part of the village.
Saarburg is located on the Saar River, only a mile or so away from where the Saar joins the Mosel. The early history of the village started when the castle (now a ruin) was built in 964. The main attraction is that the village is split in two by the river Leuk. In the 13th Century the river was diverted to flow through the village, creating a pretty waterfall which is now one of the attractions for visiting. The waterfall is 60 feet high, which is the equivalent we had to climb on our walk up to the central part of the village.
Can you tell that I like waterfalls?
When we finally meandered back to the Patria, we were allowed to check in and we opened the door to the cabin that would be our home away from home for the week. I don’t think anyone would think of it as especially spacious! We basically had two single beds along 2 walls, a small shelf and a small locker sized closet.
We did have our own bathroom, but when you pulled the shower curtain closed for a shower, half of the mirror from the sink was still on the shower side of the curtain! The cabin and bathroom were both so small that it was impossible to get a picture of either that could give anyone a realistic idea of how cramped the space was -or maybe the above one does the trick? What you can see is about 99% of our floor space. Let’s just say that since the bathroom door opened out, anyone standing on the floor in the cabin had to climb onto one of the bunks or flatten themselves against the hallway door to let someone out.
At dinner we were told that we’d be sitting at the same table all week for breakfast and dinner. It was a table for four and our dining partners were a lovely couple from Switzerland. The only problem was that they only spoke French or German, although they did have a tiny bit of English they could toss in. Although Mike had French all through high school and college, he’s never really used it and doesn’t remember much after all these years. In spite of our communication struggles, we actually did manage to share a few laughs and had a nice time sharing meals with them. It was only after the trip that I realized we’d overlooked the obvious – Google translate could have saved us a lot of charades moves and body language. Mike said he’s never seen me so at a loss for words! There were really only a handful of people in the group that were English-speaking and there was one couple originally from England now lived in France. We probably should have requested a switch of dining partners, but we muddled through. And our companions couldn’t have been more gracious or kind.
Categories: Germany Bike & Barge 2019