On my sister’s last day in Germany, my husband offered to spend the morning with the boys so I could take her on one more adventure. We got up early, kissed the little ones goodbye, hopped in the car, and set off on our girls’ day trip to Cochem Castle (Reichsburg Cochem)!
It was a beautiful January day, sunny and only a little chilly. Cassy and I drove an hour-and-a-half through sleepy German villages and grayish-green countrysides to the Mosel River. As we wended down the twisting road that took us into Cochem, we caught our first glimpse of the castle. Isn’t she something?
After stopping to take a few photographs, we drove along the Mosel, passing charming hotels and restaurants as we made our way toward the old town city center.
My GPS and I got into a little tiff as I started looking for a place to park. It kept insisting I turn down what appeared to be nothing more than a narrow alley so we could drive closer to the castle, but I couldn’t see how that could possibly be correct (I always feel like Veronica Corningstone in Anchorman when I say that). I’m sure I looked ridiculous circling around the town square over and over, again. Eventually, an amused taxi driver who’d been parked in front of a nearby church strolled up to my car and gave a friendly tap on my window as I passed him for what was probably the fifteenth time. He had a grin on his face, and he said something to the effect of: “You’re not from around here, are you?” Definitely not, sir. He kindly advised us to pay to park in the nearby lot, then walk up to the castle through the village. Turns out, we could’ve driven through the alleyway and up the narrow, cobblestone streets to the castle if we’d really wanted to, but I’m glad I didn’t take the risk! It was nice to stroll through the village on our way, stopping every now and then to peek into colorful storefront windows, even though it was Sunday and most of the shops were closed.
By the time we got to the castle, we were a little winded and feeling pretty out-of-shape, which might have been embarrassing if there had been anyone else around. 😉 It was a steep climb, and I imagined what it would’ve been like if I’d been pushing a stroller the whole way. It would’ve been quite the work out, which is definitely not a bad thing!
After stopping to catch our breath and take in the spectacular view of the surrounding Mosel River Valley, we entered Cochem Castle through an ornate gate in the outer wall and discovered we were pretty much the only ones there. Something I’ve noticed about sightseeing in Europe is the earlier you go, the more likely you are to beat the crowds!
We stepped into the gift shop to purchase our tickets for the tour, then wandered around a bit, marveling at all of the little details carved into the stone while we waited for our escort to meet us (you can’t go into the inner walls of the castle without a tour guide).
Meanwhile, the castle cat greeted us at the gate.
We were still the only ones waiting to go in when our tour guide arrived, which was a little surprising and exciting at the same time. Since it was just the three of us (the guide, my sister and me), she said she would give us a private tour in English. Woohoo!
The castle, itself, is beautiful, fascinating, and a little quirky. I can definitely see why my Mom-in-Law refers to it as one of her favorite places to visit in Germany.
Inside, it has a hunting-lodge feel to it. Deer heads hang on the walls, a polar bear rug is sprawled across the floor in the main room, and suits of armor stand guard in one of the old entryways. My favorite parts were the beautiful, glass bottle windows and the long, wooden tables setup up like a fancy feast is about to commence.
Stepping back through the gate after the tour felt like we were coming back from a different time.
We made one last visit to the gift shop for a few souvenirs, then reluctantly headed back down to the village.
Once we made it back to the old city center, we chose one of the many tiny restaurants tucked into the corners of the village to have lunch in. We sat at a table facing the window, ordered a hearty traditional German meal of schnitzel and potatoes, and clinked glasses of local white wine while we watched tourists stop to take pictures of one another in the streets.
On our way out of town, we made one last stop to say hello to (and disturb) a bevy of swans lazing beside the river.
I definitely wasn’t ready for my sister to leave the next day, but as we made the drive back to our house, I found myself hoping she’d be taking more than dirty laundry and souvenirs back with her to the States. Memories of her time in Europe and our time spent together, perhaps.
Love you, Cass!