Sep 20 - Tuesday - Day 4
It’s been a great three days in the Odenwald. Perfect weather, good food, nice accommodations, everything you could want to get a trip off to a good start. But it is time to get to work. There are at least seventeen other teams out there all converging on the tiny town of Brodenbach on the Mosel. The Hotel Peifer, which is the pit stop for this stage of the race, has no idea what they are in for.
By 8:30 I am bidding adieu to the Family Horn, and turning west for the long drive to the Mosel. The route on the map looks simple and shouldn’t be a problem. The plan is to just follow the B460 cross country to Worms, then pick up the A61 toward Alzey for a straight shot to the Mosel. Wrong…..
Within an hour I am approaching the outskirts of Worms. Traffic is moderate which forces me to try juggling a speed slow enough to let me read the signs, but without getting other drivers all up in arms. This is my first foray through this area, and in the distance I can see tall spires of the city. According to the map I should be able to just circle the outskirts as I make my way toward the autobahn.
Somewhere between a convolution of red lights, and some road construction, I manage to hit my first DETOUR! Before I know it I find myself right in the middle of traffic flowing into the city. This is definitely not part of the plan. I have a timetable to keep, as Ben and I have agreed to meet up at noon, and here it is almost 10:00 and I still have over a hundred kilometers to go.
Under other circumstances I’m sure the town of Worms might be an interesting place to visit, but right about now it’s causing me a major headache. It’s become obvious that Bill Hickox’s motto “No turn is a wrong turn” doesn’t apply to me in this particular case.
My options are pretty clear. Continue wandering around the twists and turns of the city eating up time, or (heaven forbid) do the un-manly thing and stop to ask directions. What the heck, I need to use the restroom anyway so I pull into the next Aral station and approach the young lady behind the counter. “Excuse me, can you tell me how to get to the autobahn to Alzey (pronounced “Al -Zee” in my book.)” She looks a bit puzzled until I show her on the map and then she smiles and says “Oh you mean Alzey ( pronounced “All -Zay” in her book)” Yeah lady whatever, just point me in the right direction.
As it turns out, if I had just stayed on the road I was on I would have come to the autobahn within a couple of klicks anyway. I finally hit the A61 headed toward Koblenz, and put the pedal down to what I feel is a controllable speed that will help me make up some time. I’m moving along at a pretty good pace, but still get passed like I’m standing still.
By 11:00 I am crossing the Rhine and starting to feel pretty good about arriving on time. That is until I come upon a Stau out of nowhere. Two lanes of the three lane autobahn are under construction and traffic is having to move over to the far left. Tension mounts as I can’t see far enough ahead to determine if this is a major or a minor delay. Fortunately, other drivers are kind enough to let me get over from the right lane to the left, and within a mile or so we break free and are back on track.
The traffic gods are with me the rest of the way as I finally reach my cut off point which takes me the short distance over to Lof. Breathing a sigh of relief I cross the river and make my way toward the tiny hamlet of Hatzenport, where my accommodations are.
The weather is great. Clear sunny skies, the Mosel is flowing peacefully, and vineyards cover the hills as far as the eye can see. Congratulating myself for being right on time, it is almost straight up noon, I slowly cruise into Hatzenport looking for the “Winzerhof Geitzen,” which will be my personal rest stop for the next two days.
Well….well…looky here. What to my wandering eyes should appear but none other than BB strolling down the riverfront looking every bit the tourist. Since he is staying in Brodenbach, which is no short walk, I’m wondering how he got over here. As it turned out, I believe it was the Lumpster who took pity and gave him a lift, and he is just killing time waiting for me to show up.
Once again I draw an Ace as I am given a very nice DZ, complete with shower/toilet and a nice little balcony overlooking the river. The price, only E26.
After quickly unloading the bags we are off and running to salvage the rest of the day.
About a hundred yards from the Geitzen is the cutoff to Münstermaifeld,
which ultimately leads to Burg Eltz, our next stop.
Now a lot of folks may not know about this short cut
to the Burg. You may have read some postings about the long uphill walk from the parking lot in Moselkern to the
castle. That’s true, having done it myself once, and never again. It’s a killer. So naturally I was elated to stumble
across this easier way a few years ago. There are some great photo op spots along
the way, for those postcard type shots you see advertised.
It is just a short drive up into the hills with signs clearly pointing the way to Eltz. There is a small parking lot which cost a couple of euro. But the nice thing is that from here it is a gentle downhill walk of only a few hundred yards to the castle.
The really nice part of the return trip to the car park is that for about E1.50 you can take the shuttle van which makes the trip in about two minutes, leaving you rested and refreshed while pitying those poor souls who now have to hike back down the way they came up from Moselkern.
Our next event takes us on a leisurely drive over to Cochem. BB has already spent some time here over the past few days and knows of an internet place we can hit. It’s only a one terminal deal, but hey at least we can catch up on our mail and some sports scores.
With that out of the way, we decide to mix in with the crowds and stroll the town. All of a sudden it’s like a family reunion. Who do we run into but none other than the Okies, Mary Ann and Terri, with their husbands in tow. This is great. After some chit chat we all agree to head over to the nearest place with outdoor tables and have some brews.
The next thing you know we are bumping into Ed and Val, who just happen to already have a table nearby. Plenty of room for all, that is until all of a sudden Bill and Suzie show up. This is almost like a dress rehearsal for the big meeting tomorrow night.
After some relaxing time under the shade trees, a few Bier, and some good conversation everyone starts to break up and drift off to keep whatever plans they had going. In our case, we decide to keep cruising the small towns along the river, and eventually cross over near Alf and make our way back toward Brodenbach.
Around 4:00 I drop Ben off at his place, the Haus Christiane,
There are some great photo op spots along the way, for those postcard type shots you see advertised.
Pension Haus Christiane
We spend some time catching up on all
the goings on, and discussing the various trip plans within the group after the reunion is over. Unfortunately,
we discover that several of the group who thought they had confirmed reservations at the Peifer got stood up and
had to be shuffled off elsewhere for the first night. Needless to say the Peifer didn’t gain any points for this
But we are in luck and they have reserved us a large dining room off to the side from the main restaurant. For the next few hours we spend some quality time over good food, more than a few Bier, and great conversation as folks wander from table to table.
By 10:00 things are wrapping up, and the group starts to break up since most have plans for tomorrow. I believe a few of the diehards stayed on for awhile, however unlike the Sternen where you could hang out till the sun came up, the Peifer apparently has a thing about closing before midnight. Sorry Jim and Lump…. better luck next time.
After dropping Ben off I head back over the river and admire the twinkling lights of the little towns on the way back to Hatzenport. It’s been a full day, but a good one. A hot shower, another Bier from the guest fridge in the hall, and I am pretty well done.
It’s great to be back among old friends.
Sep 21 - Wednesday - Day 5
Although last night wasn’t as cold as
in the Odenwald, there was still a chill in the air for my morning pre-breakfast stroll around the grounds. This
is really a nice place and I could easily see it as a repeat visit on future trips.
The Geitzen has a very nice Frühstück room overlooking the river, and I only see a family of three at one of the tables when I show up at 8:00. I saw no other guests during my stay. Frau Geitzen runs the kitchen and she is flitting about bringing out the goodies.
The coffee is excellent, along with the typical breakfast fare. She even lets me have two of those great soft-boiled eggs, which is rare. I guess the Germans aren’t caught up in the cholesterol wars like we are.
For once I hang around after eating, since I am not due to pick Ben up until 9:00. It’s great just to linger over a third and fourth cup of coffee while browsing through a USA Today that I picked up along the way.
After yesterday’s hoopla the game plan for today seems tame. We have only one planned event, and that is to pay a visit to the Ehrenburg castle ruins up in the hills above Brodenbach. This is a first time visit, and since we are castle freaks anyway, it should be interesting.
Burg Thurant, in nearby Alken, is really huge and looks worthwhile but time only permits us to squeeze in one this trip. It will have to wait until next time.
Ehrenburg is located in a valley and the ruins are not large as castles go, as compared to say Rheinfels or Marksburg. Thus making it easy to take our time poking around. According to the literature it dates back to the early 1100’s. Upon arrival we have to park a few hundred meters uphill from the ruins. The walk down was easy, it’s the back up that has me worried.
There is a small bridge over a deep moat which you have
to cross to get in. A pair of huge wooden doors greets us with a sign that says they don’t open until 10. Since
we are the first to arrive we can afford to kill some time, which we make the most of with some photo ops.
Finally, a few minutes after ten and the doors still haven’t opened, so I go up and grab a pull cord attached to a bell and start tugging. Apparently this must have grated on the nerves of the guy who flung open the doors and muttered something in German, which I can only assume was not “Welcome and come in.”
Inside is a small courtyard with various
booths for arts and crafts displays. As it turns out, besides being ruins, they also have a few rooms to rent,
and on several occasions during the year they also have old medieval times re-enactments.
We proceed to poke around some of the battlements overlooking the valley below. This place is pretty high up, and like Burg Eltz, it must have taken an army of workers hauling all the bricks and stones from wherever.
After catching up on mail and the weekend
football scores we head over to a Spar Market so Ben can load up on Ritter Sports to appease the family back home.
Only 79 cents a pop, so he cleans out a couple of shelves, which leads to some strange looks from the cashier who
has to count out about 40 of the things. Man those Americans must have a sweet tooth.
It is now mid-afternoon and our final group gathering is tonight. Tomorrow everyone heads in different directions. I am off to Rothenburg via Bacharach, where I will drop Ben off for his last night on the Rhine before heading home.
We have pretty well covered the plan for today so we take our time cruising our way back through Zell, Alf, Cochem, and finally back to Brodenbach by around 4:00. This gives us a couple of hours to pack, relax, whatever before the final meeting in a few hours.
Our last night proves to be a good one. More folks have arrived since yesterday, and while officially Nate and company were the last team to arrive, it turns out that this is a non-elimination leg and everyone gets off with a freebie.
After a few hours of more good food, toasts all around, pictures galore, and just a general good time had by all, we finally put this gathering in the history books. This is number three, and a definite change of pace and location from the previous two in Urach.
Will there be more? We sure hope so. Considering this diverse bunch has been together seven years now, anything is possible.. But somehow I don’t think that the Peifer in Brodenbach will be at the top of anyone’s list next time. To Bill Hickox’s credit things held together pretty well considering the circumstances. But hey…. all’s well that ends well.