17th June to 23 June – Saar to Koblenz Bike/Barge Trip

Welcome back to our blog followers after our week of absence. Unfortunately we were correct in that there was no free wifi but now you will get to over indulge.

A map showing our overall route – Saarburg to Koblenz (where the Moselle meets the Rhine). Total distance of 253k of which we will bike 219k of it.

Saturday 17th June – Saarburg to MPS Patria – Next Blog 1
Our aim today was to have breakfast, drop our bags and the two bikes at the boat and then go out for a walk in the trees. We need to be back by 4.00pm to board the boat.

Elfi had found this wonderful walk that was about 15k’s away where you got to walk in the tree tops and it was called ……. Die Saarschieife – couldn’t even begin to pronounce it. Really enjoyed the walk which was only about 1.5k’s.

Elfi and Horst are teaching us some new German words each day but we have trouble remembering them so when we see something like this tree place name we feel defeated before we start.

We found a row of perfectly satisfactory cars all the same in the parking lot. Eat your heart out Nick and Adam.

The structure was made from Douglas Fir and as it was wood there was a lot of movement in the structure. A little uncomfortable when you threw in some wind!!

We looked down onto the bend in the Saar River.

We were fortunate as whilst there a barge with a butty came around the bend. We do not think long barges have any girly buttons (side thrusters) so these captains have great spatial recognition.

We probably spent two hours up there.

Afterwards we went back to Saarburg and had a quick lunch before going back to the boat and settling into our rooms and getting inducted. Safety instructions were that if she started to sink, go to the top deck as you will end up in ankle deep water when it sinks to the bottom. That shows you that the Saar River is not very deep.

As you can see from the picture, the day was getting a little warm and the locals had jumped in for a swim.

On the boat our cabin is tight at 7m2 with our own ensuite but more than adequate. We should not be spending much time in our cabins anyway.

There are two dogs on board called Seba and Sa who are pretty friendly. Nice to get a doggy fix. They spend most of their time on the top deck or else in the wheel house.

The boat is full and there are mostly German speakers with a few English thrown in. So far we have picked up that there are four Aussies on board. Will avoid them as much as possible as we are here to become fully immersed in a German experience.

The boat is the MPS (Master Passenger Ship)Patria. The boat was built in 1940 and started out as a river tug at 40m in length. In 1979 she was converted to a passenger boat and they added in another 17m – that would have been interesting to see. There are a number of these converted barges doing the bike/ barge trips on the European rivers.

We are spending the night moored up at Saarburg and then we head out on our bikes tomorrow morning. Every one is riding either standard bikes or ebikes. We reckon the average age on the boat is early 70’s and it is great to see them out there having a go. Hope it puts all you young ones out there to shame.

Sunday June 18 – Saarburg to Trier – 38km by bike

It was predicted to get to 28c for our first day on the bikes so decided that the idea of starting early was a smart one. Altogether we have 38k’s to do today from Saarburg on the Saar River to Trier on the Moselle River via Luxembourg- as you do.

It was perfect biking weather as we set off on our sturdy steads. We have been provided with excellent maps and directions as Di and Elfi proved how effective the instructions were.

The junction where the Saar empties into the Moselle was only 10k’s from the start. We turned left upstream of the Moselle heading towards Luxembourg. We just clipped the corner of Luxembourg but required a ferry to get us across the Moselle to it.

In Luxembourg they speak French and have a nice red, white and Light Blue (Diane says it is Turquoise !!!) flag.

Had a French coffee and then headed back down the Moselle to catch up with the MPS Patria which was moored in Trier about 12k away from our spot in 🇱🇺.

Trier is the oldest town in Germany and in the very distant distant past was once the capital of Germany. The picture below is of the Kaiser Wilhelm bridge which is one of the oldest in Germany. If you have a look at the lower abutments they are of the original roman bridge built 2000 years ago. Tell us of any modern day construction you can think of that will be around in 2000 years from now?!

We were back on board before the real heat of the day commenced thank goodness. After a quick shower, hand washing of clothes and afternoon tea we walked into Trier.

Our first rendezvous was with the Porta Nigra which was built by the good old Romans. It was the main gate into the city.

 


Tonight they have a stage set up in front of it for a free concert with a philharmonic – how cool is that.

We wandered around the centre of the town which was really very authentic.

There was a huge Basilica in town which warranted a visit. Immense organ which we were fortunate enough to hear playing. Guessed it was Catholic as there were several confessionals – we all know about those absolutions of naughty Catholic sins.

Back to the boat for dinner and to discover that our clothes had already dried – good stuff.

Fraser, Elfi and Horst went back into town to watch the orchestra and cash in on a free drink. We are now firmly in wine growing country and this region is big on Moselle (what else) but also riesling and rose. We tried them all of course.

Di was knackered so hung behind to do the blog and get her and Elfi’s infamous jigsaw puzzle done. Every time we all catch up we must accomplish a jigsaw puzzle and this time Elfi has upped the anti and got a 1000 piece one. It is of 99 places to visit in the world!!!

Monday 19th June Trier to Mehring – 26 km by bike

Today was hot. Really Hot. We think maybe 33 degrees.

Luckily we have had a short day on the bike so that made it good. We are starting to get into the classic Moselle scenery now with the vineyards sloping up from the river. This makes for some nice photos and we stopped to take a few trying to compose the typical Moselle look. That is bikers in front of river with barge moving behind and vineyards sloping away in the background. Still need to work on this but will have plenty of time over the next few days.

As we arrived in Mehring at the end of the day Diane ran into a city gardener trimming some roses by the side of the street. She picked up a few blooms that he was going to throw away, much to his amusement and long winded comment in German which we did not understand. We will save the roses to put on our diner table tonight.

With only a short ride we got to Miss Pat (short for MS Patria) at about 2 o’clock. This enabled us to have a swim beside the boat and cool off. It was heaven. Just the thing to end a cycling day. No pictures but trust me it was very very good.

Tuesday 20 to Friday 23 June – Mehring to Koblenz.

So this part of the blog has four days running together. During the last four days we have been cycling progressively down stream according to the following program and weather conditions

Tuesday – Mehring to Bernkastel Kues – 47 km , 36 degrees and sunny and bloody HOT!!!
Wednesday – Bernkastlel Kues to Zell – 43 km, 33 degrees and sunny , real sunny
Thursday – Zell to Cochem – 39 km. 37 degrees and f….&&$@ hot (we might die)
Friday – Cochem to Koblenz – 33km by bike and 24km by boat – 29 degrees and overcast (we didn’t die )

Rather than do a day by day blog this report collects some thoughts over these last 4 days……
Firstly the weather. Yes it’s been very very hot. Horst and Elfi our good German friends have coped better than us. We are now definitely Canadian when it comes to weather and we do struggle with anything over 25c as these pictures show.

Di resorted to wearing a wet face cloth on her head!

…and ice cream to lower her core body temperature.

These strategies helped somewhat but we also resorted to jumping into the Moselle river at times.

The cycling fortunately has been relatively easy. Slightly down hill to flat most of the way.

Miss Pat has been good and the staff look after us well. They basically follow us each day and we get to see them now and then on the river before they catch up to us at the end of the day and get us off our bikes, out of the heat and into the air conditioned lounge. At night though our cabins are stinking hot as they are not air conditioned so it’s a matter of having a cold shower and sleeping on top of the sheets with the window wide open. We made the fatal mistake the first night of leaving our room with the light still on whilst we were relaxing on the top of the boat. Returned two hours later to find our cabin taken over by bugs – not a comfortable evening and a lesson well learnt.

Scenery wise it has been really lovely. Lots of typical steep vineyards along the river punctuated by little villages. The little towns we travel through and pull up at night are just delightful. Here is a selection of some of the towns and scenery.

 

We had a few little side trips. One was to the castle at Bernkastel Kues where we took this fantastic old yellow truck complete with a characterful driver up to the castle. The road was very steep and the driver enjoyed scaring the hell out of us as he struggled to find each lower gear as we climbed. At one stage we all thought we would end up rolling backwards and over a cliff. Fraser ended up singing the made up song and sung it to the Beatles classic. The words went something like this “ we’re all going to die in a yellow Mercedes Benz … a yellow Mercedes Benz ….. a yellow Mercedes Benz” – hold on tight, change to a lower gear and repeat chorus again.

Believe it or not we were in this exact location 26 years ago and pushed our rental bikes all the way up this stupendous looking for the Youth Hostel. The Youth Hostel was still there but no longer open. We have spent a fair bit of time trying to recall lost file space as we did a very similar trip down the Moselle in 1991 by bike and staying in Zimmer Frei (bed and breakfast) and Youth Hostels. We kicked ourselves that we did not get our 1991 diary out before this trip and re-read the Moselle portion as well as review the slides – yeap, we do mean slides!!!!

Another side trip was to the castle at Eltz. This involved parking the bikes and walking inland away from the river for 30 minutes into a secluded valley where the castle is. It is a fairy tale style castle. It’s very well known in Germany being a bit in the same vogue as the Neuschwanstein castle in Bavaria. This one however is over 1000 years old and has been in the same family for 34 generations.

 

Of course being wine country we did participate in this activity. Wines tend to be very sweet but you develop a taste. One night we had a tour of Mr Weiss’s cellar in Zell. He was excellent and explained a

lot about the issues of growing grapes in this region with the very steep gradients, the poor quality slatey soils plus issues with bugs and mould etc. You didn’t need to be a drinker to appreciate his very informative talk.

The Moselle river of course is made navigateable for large barges by the installation of a series of locks. They remind us so much of our time from last year spent on the English canals. Locks here work the same way in theory but are many 100’s of times bigger and nothing is done manually. The size of the ships that use them is quite staggering.

This week has been very very special for us as it has been spent with Horst and Elfi our good friends from Germany. We have known them since 2000 when we met them on the Milford track in NZ. We have had many adventures together in all sorts of places – UK, NZ, Canada and Germany. We all got on very well again and they have been very patient with us as we stumble along with our few words of German. We are pleased to report that Elfi and Di also successfully finished the 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle on this trip.

Here are a few snaps of us all together at various stages on our Moselle bike tour.

Of course it all must come to an end and on the last day we finally reached Koblenz. It was an easy day as the hot weather finally abated and we actually cruised on the boat for the last 24km. This enabled us to celebrate with an end of trip photo and a round of nice cold Raddlers on the sun deck.

 

Our final mileage destination as proof that we actually did it. You need to take off 91 kilometres for the cycling we did prior to us commencing the Moselle trip. We are doing an accumulated odometer reading for all our bikes rides.

Koblenz (our end point) is a significant river port town as it is at the junction of the Moselle and Rhine. We made sure that we walked out to the German point which is the well known peninsular where the two rivers meet. Here we “touched the fence post” marking the end of our 253km. trip down the Saar and Moselle rivers.

Whilst Horst and Fraser caught the train back to Saarburg to pick up the car, Di and Elfi caught the cable car across the Rhine to the castle. Whilst up there we watched the sun settle over Koblenz and also watch the very busy river traffic. The photo below shows a container barge plying its trade as we crossed over the top of it.

Our final congratulatory (there were a few of these) 🍹 of a trip well done.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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