Moving on from Amsterdam this morning we were rudely awoken by our newly pitched neighbouring tent playing random music at 4am really loudly. First alarms weren't set til 5.30am, so was not impressed! Never-the-less, once 6.30am came we were packed and all ready to go. Got our bus from Amstel station and bought some nibbles just before getting on. It was a service bound for Slovenia & so were charged an extra 1 euro each for luggage. Cheeky because its supposed to be included. We paid it more as insurance that our bags would still be on the bus when we got off in Koblenz, I guess. The trip was good. The bus passed through Utrecht & Arnhem in Holland & then into Germany. We were stopped at border control (our first so far), but the guy only checked the bus driver and sent us on our way. Once over the border we stopped for 20 minutes in Dusseldorf & had a little walk around. We were quietly pleased that we hadn't decided to stop there as it looked like a bit of a hole. Back on the bus we had some beautiful scenery between Koln & Koblenz. The road seemed to hug the Rhine River along the way and there were picturesque little towns & an abundance of vineyards we passed.
Once in Koblenz we had our google map ready with directions to the campsite. It was a 4km hike and the lady at the campsite I had spoken to said there was no local bus service there. Of course we found out later she had said that because her English was bad. There was infact some very efficient public transport. Heee heee!! Anyway found our way fairly easily & were even told by some local when we took a wrong turn to go the otherway. He must have seen our sleeping bags & roll mats on the outside of our packs & guessed we were camping. So far Germany has a lovely feel to it. We were pretty knackered by the time we got there & had a set up beer for refreshment! The campsite was right along the river front at the point where the Rhine meets the Moselle River. It has the best views of a huge monument to a former king (can't remember his name) on a horse with an angel beside him, and also the fort up on the hill on opposite bank of the river.
We pitched up by 5.30pm and took a walk back into town to get some groceries. By the time we came back Pete's foot had swolen up a beauty again and I had a rather juicy looking blister on the bottom on my foot. So together we made quite a pair as we hobbled around the place. No more 4km hikes with packs on for a while I think! Dinner that night consisted mainly of freebies from our Danish friends, so was a cheap evening! Pete went to look for a wash up just after 10pm and couldn't find any. When he attempted to wash the dishes in the sink in the mens toilet he was accosted by a Polish guy telling him about some "lonely little hut". Must have been a direct translation! Pete said he found this lonely little hut, but it was closed til the morning, so dirty dishes overnight.
After an amazing nights sleep we woke up and sat in front of our tent reading our books for a while. We had some German neighbours that were from Frankfurt. They went out after a while & offered us their chairs to sit on while they were out. We thought how lovely! It was great to be off the floor for a while! We were lazy like that for quite a while & in the afternoon decided to get the 1 euro ferry over to town.
The campsite we are staying at is at the point where the Mosel river meets with the Rhine river & there is a constant hub of ferries & barges travelling past. Lots of waving opportunities to the tourist boats! Once in Koblenz town we noticed there was a bit of town transformation going on because of the Koblenz festival. There was a mish mash of various shows, some to pay for and others were free. That night there was a famous Austrian band playing. We would of course have nearly front row seats as the camp ground was directly opposite to where they were playing...free entertainment!
Had a bit of a walk around town, found the tourist info & an internet cafe where we tried to phone various people, but the microphone didn't work. Great! Found the local supermarket where beer was 29c a can, with a deposit of 25c per can. The deposit you get back when you take the empty can back to the shop. Pete is very pleased with the cheap beer. Got back to the campsite very hungry & then realised it was nearly 8pm, that was why! Had our dinner & listened to a bit of the band playing. After a while it got a bit boring and so to bed.
Next morning I got up fairly early & ended up pointing my finger at a very lazy Pete, only getting out of his sleeping bag at 10am! Had some brekky after that & lazed around a bit again. Soup for lunch, then, as all of Europe seems to be completely shut on a Sunday we had two days worth of food to get in, so over in the small ferry in search of food that will last in the hot tent for a day. Germany has the cheapest beer so far at 29c a can. You end up paying an extra 25c a can for deposit, but there are funky machines that you take most cans & plastic bottles back to for recycling & you get the deposit money back. Very good idea!
The following day we bought boat tickets to Cochem. It was a 6 hour journey over a space of 49kms. It was beautiful scenery, but dead boring sitting on the boat for that long! We went through 3 locks most of which took over an hour to get through, so unless you were on the boat to eat & drink (which most others seemed to be), it would have been quicker to get the train. We did pass by the tallest bridge in Germany, which was impressive! We are all for the experience, but, was just thankful at the end of the trip that we didn't have to sit on the boat for another 6 hours going back to Koblenz!
We had passed our campsite in Cochem on the boat so walked back down to it. It was a scorchingly hot day & we were both hot & bothered by the time we got there. The guy at the reception was less than welcoming but we did get a waterside pitch which seemed to make it all better. Once our tent was set up (and may I say that we are becoming experts at setting up home in less than 15 minutes) we went to dunk our feet in the Moselle river to cool down a bit, and then for the daily ritual of finding a supermarket for supplies. We carry very little food with us as it weighs a ton when you have to walk any distance at all with packs on. Of course we try to walk as short a distance as possible with packs & take public transport when available. Deciding to leave exploring Cochem until the following day we enjoyed the evening & had even treated ourselves to a frying pan so we could cook proper meat. Got chatting to a couple from The Netherlands who were our neighbours & they offered us a nice cold beer.
Cold beer is very difficult to come by in supermarkets, so we have devised a "fridge" by putting anything that needs to get cold or stay cold in a corner of the tent on the base & cover it over with our sleeping bags. Its suprising how good it works at chilling your drinks & keeping food cold!
In the morning, after a breakfast of fried eggs & bacon (with our new frying pan) we set off to discover the delights of Cochem. The main attraction is its Medieval castle that sits up on a hill overlooking the medieval style town, and is so impressive its definately worth a visit. The Reichsburg castle was a 15 minute walk, very much up-hill, from the town. We paid 4.50 euros each to go on the guided tour which is the only way to see the inside, but was well worth the money. The tour lasted about 30 minutes and was all in German, but we also got a paper translation in English. It would have been a very colourful castle in the middle ages & in certain places you can still see the original faded paint on the outside of the buildings walls. It was originally built in 1151, but some of it was destroyed by French solidiers in the 1600's. There was rich merchant who decided to build it back up to its original plans, but inside was decorated to his own taste. So although the outside is medieval looking, the inside is very much Baroque/Gothic style. There was an impressive weapons room with the armour of a 7 foot knight, incredible! There were of course also fantastic views over the town & vineyards on the river bank. The town was lovely with very narrow cobbled streets and some original buildings from the middle ages, but as it was the height of summer it got very crowded and sometimes feel a bit like tourist hell!
Later in the day we walked back towards the campsite & stopped in at a cellar door called KellereiFuehrung. It produces a large amount of the Moselle wine, which is mostly Riesling. We went on the guided tour for that too, and learnt a bit about how the sun shines off the river to give the grapes that grow on the hilly slopes the best taste & therefore they get made into wine which sells for higher price as it is better quality. At the end of the tour we got to taste 3 different qualities of Riesling wine from table wine to Auslese (some of the best quality). We also got a free bottle of wine worth 5 euros which we had with our dinner.
Next stop was Trier, also along the Moselle river, and is supposed to be Germanys oldest town with more Roman ruins than anywhere else north of the Alps. Was once again about a 4km hike to the campsite when we arrived in Trier, but Pete's ankle was doing much better & had stopped swelling up in the heat. We spent two nights in Trier as we felt that was long enough. Although there were lots of ruins to see like the Porta Nigra - the old city gates, there wasn't much else to keep our interest.
We had set our tent up close to a blackberry bush & had picked some fruit for pudding the first night we were there. They were lovely, plump & delicious. The following morning, however, it seemed that we were not so popular with the local birds that also liked to eat these berries. I'm still not sure to this day if it was intentional, but we & our tent got bird poo all over us. And I'm talking about a serious lot of purple poo falling from the bums of birds flying over us. The funniest bit was that none of the other tents around us were hit at all, which is why I thought we were the target! I got poo'd on all over my t-shirt & Pete got the brunt mostly in his hair! We were a bit of a mess, and had to have showers again & wash out our clothes so they didn't stain. It was crazy at the time, but now seems incredibly funny the way it happened!
Next day we took a short train journey into Luxembourg City for 3 days, & then came back to Koblenz for a couple of nights. Its one of the nicest places we have been so far.