Though we’ve been on Herbstferein (Autumn Break) here in Rhineland-Pfalz for about a week now, I’ve hardly done any traveling (besides the quick trip to Bavaria last weekend!). This weekend however some of the assistants and I took two short day trips out from Trier to two nearby towns known for their castles: Cochem and Saarburg.
Cochem stands about half-way between Trier and Koblenz along the Moselle River. I’ve gone through Cochem on the train many times without stopping there, so when one of the other assistants suggested we travel somewhere on Friday for the day, I suggested Cochem.
Some of the assistants who have already registered at the university have their semester student cards, allowing them to travel with Regional Bahn and Regional Express trains as far as Koblenz; meanwhile, Whitney (the American assistant) and I purchased a Rhineland-Pfalz group ticket which allows us unlimited daily regional train travel within the state. This a pretty cheap alternative to buying tickets either way, as the entire ticket cost us 12 Euro each rather than the 16 Euro in either direction for a normal ticket.
We all agreed that Cochem was “cute.” It’s rather stretched out along the Moselle’s bank, with the train station at one end and the Reichsburg perched atop its hill down the other. We wandered around the town a little bit, stopping at a Weinstube for a glass of Federweißen, the local specialty.(cue Dylan Moran: “It’s the local t’ing. Y’know why it’s local? Because it’s rubbish.”)
After lunch we huffed our way up the (admittedly meagre hill) to the castle. Along the way we found a little guard house/turret/Türmchen that, like any responsible tourists, we tried to see if we could all fit in.
We went on the official tour of the castle, learning about its 10th century roots, leading up to its destruction in the 17th century by the villainous French. Then, in the 19th century, a nutty rich German (something the 19th century had no shortage of!) bought the place for 400 Prussian Talers (~500 Euro today!) and renovated it as a residence. He died shortly afterwards. If I’ve learned anything in Germany, it’s don’t buy a cheap castle, because you’ll die shortly after you’re done renovating.
Then on Sunday a different group of us went to see Saarburg, conveniently located about halfway between Trier and Saarbrücken on the Saar River (from which the town, city, and state all get their name). I’d been to Saarburg before last time with Eva, but it was snowing and freezing cold. The relatively warm temperature we had today certainly made a difference!
We went into town and had some Apfelstrüdel. The town is as extraordinarily cute as it is small.
Then we climbed up to the castle for its inspiring view of the surrounding area. Unlike Cochem, no 19th century nutty rich Germans bought up the Saarburg or converted it into a residence. Today there is a restaurant attached to it, but I don’t know if it’s ever open.
Later in the day we headed to Saarbrücken where we caught up with the other assistants. They had been to a ballet the night before, and I asked one of the girls how it was. She replied, “Oh, it was very…contemporary, I guess you could call it. I mean, there were a lot of buckets, which was unexpected.” Na ja, so is it in Saarbrücken I guess!
Tomorrow I’m off with three of the other Trier assistants to the fairy-tale woods of Badem-Württemberg, namely Karlsruhe, Freiburg, and Stuttgart. Bis Gleich!