Leaving Düsseldorf on Thursday evening and passing through the volcanic region of the Eifel Mountains, a drive of just over two hours brought us to the village on the banks of the Moselle, about 10 kms west of the very famous town and tourist magnet of Bernkastel-Kues. Brauneberg appears to consist only of wine producers and hotel and B&Bs, with a few restaurants and some other necessities. Finding the Kranz-Junk house on Brunnenstrasse was easy and we received a very warm welcome and enjoyed a bottle of the Brauneberger Juffer Kabinett dry Riesling while chatting. The room was simple but very comfortable, and with its own washroom and shower. Needless to say, nights in Brauneberg are pretty quiet, although perhaps all the Riesling helped one to relax.
|The view onto Brunnenstrasse, Brauneberg|
|The bridge at Piesport, with Basso|
|Along the Moselradweg in Springtime|
We rolled on through Piesport, home of the Goltröpfchen Riesling Kabinett from Franz Reh I remember so well from my youth. The little hotels along the edge of the water were just waking up and umbrellas erected for the not-very-evident sun. Many of the buildings were very substantial, indicative of the prosperity of the region. It has almost no industry to speak of except wineries and tourism.
We rolled into Neumagen-Dhron, one of the most interesting places we saw on the trip. The village claims to be the oldest wine village in Germany (a distinction that several other places claim) and it certainly has a good claim to antiquity. German tribesmen wrecked what was then called Noviomagus Treverorum in 275 AD and a century later the Romans built a big fortress on the site with thirteen towers. Neumagen has been the site of some impressive archaeological finds, including the Neumagen Wine Ship, a Roman grave marker that can be seen in replica in the centre of the village. There is a walking route that takes you around where the various Roman structures, such as the town gates and walls, would have been. And of course there is a really good bakery, which proudly proclaims that after 35 years everything is still made from scratch.
|The Roman Wine Ship grave marker, 2nd Century AD|
The area we were traversing has been marked as the Roman Wine Route and in addition to informative signs we came upon a Roman milestone next to the bike path and then a water basin, with a nice relief of a satyr playing the pipes beside it.
|The satyr is the one on the right|
We rode past a statue of St. Francis that was erected in 1802 by local monks to calm the waters of the Moselle for passing sailors but the river looked pretty safe to us. The bike path is very good and almost all paved, with lots of places to stop and sit on a bench and look at the river, sometimes with a Roman bust nearby to keep you company. These are all reproductions as the originals have ended up in museums, such as the one in Trier, marking the Roman occupation of this part of Germany.
Our next stop was Longuich, which features an impressive castle that goes back to 1360 and is a rare example of late Gothic architecture in the countryside. It was converted in the 1980s into its present configuration as a restaurant/wine-tasting place by the family that has owned it for the last six generations.
A short distance away, however, was the Villa Rustica, our next Roman villa. This was smaller than the place in Mehring but still impressive. The bath area, with its cold/warm/hot pools, was particularly well-preserved. The villa also featured heated floors and, the first time I have noticed this, heated walls. The house, constructed also in the 2nd Century AD like the Villa Urbana, possibly belonged to a retired senior Roman administrator from nearby Trier. It too fell victim to Germanic attacks in the 4th Century.
|The baths at the Villa Urbana|
Having ridden around 45 kms from Brauneberg, it was time to turn around and head back after finding some lunch. We crossed the river and headed east, stopping for lunch at the cyclist-friendly Hotel Zum Fährturm in Mehring, a town that occupies both banks of the river, where I enjoyed a massive Erdinger non-alcoholic beer with my cheese omelette and excellent fries.
We should have crossed back over on the bridge at Mehring and continued on the bikepath we had come in on but with new sights to see we stayed on the north bank. This turned out to be not such a good idea as the bikepath was not well-marked and soon vanished, leaving us to ride the shoulder of the rather busy Bundesstrasse until we could escape back over the Trittenheim bridge to the quieter side.
We rolled back into Neumagen and had a break at the bakery there and then I went looking for the very impressive reconstructed Roman wine ship. Not a grave marker but the real thing which used the grave marker as a model. A typical Roman galley of the 4th Century AD, the original would have been a multi-purpose vessel which not only brought legionnaires into the territories of the German tribesman between the Roman capital in Trier and the Rhine but also would have been used for shipping wine, which came from various productions sites on the Moselle and was blended in Trier, as well as other goods.
The Stelle Noviomagi (“Star of Neumagen”) cost 400,000 Euros to construct and was launched in 2007. It is 18 m in length and can take 50 passengers, although they don’t need to row as there are two diesel engines on the ship. However, rowing is an option and there are trained crews for this. The ship can be chartered for cruises on the river, which must be fun although probably pretty slow as the Stelle Noviomagi does not appear to be built for speed. It really is quite beautiful to look at.
A final 16 km push and we were back at Familie Kranz-Junk, with 90 kms completed and a surprising 500 m vertical. The route is easy to ride and fun for cyclists of all ages and skill levels.
Saturday did not allow a repeat ride as the weather was cold and nasty, so the bikes were packed away, along with some cases of wine, and after another huge breakfast we took our leave of the Kranz-Junks and drove east towards Bernkastel-Kues, but not before crossing the river to stand next to the Juffer and to look at the Roman wine press facility, one of several in the region, where the juice was pressed out and then shipped to Trier.
Although the weather was poor, Bernkastel was already seeing a lot of tourists. It is probably what most people would think of when they think of a perfect German small town, with beautiful half-timbered buildings, lots of wine merchants and more than a few excellent bakeries.
The Café Hansen is one of these and I have stopped in there before to enjoy some wonderfully sinful cake. Nothing is better than a delicious piece of Torte with a fine coffee on a cold and grey day.
new spa is quite modern and airy.
The little town reflects a period when the last Elector of Trier, Clemens Wenzeslaus of Saxony, built a small palace as a summer residence and hunting lodge (although he apparently disliked hunting) in the late 18th Century, shortly before Revolutionary France occupied the town for two decades. Clemens Wenzeslaus lived to be 82 and is said to be the inventor of Kalte Ente, a punch consisting of wine and champagne, lemon juice and sugar with ice cubes, which became Americanized in 1937 as Cold Duck.
|The Elector's little Schloss|
|The Vulkaneifel Therme|