Saturday, June 02, 2007

The Moselle Valley

The stretch of the Moselle river in Germany is about 100 miles long and meanders mightily on it's way northeast toward Koblenz. In total, the river is almost 340 miles in length, rising in northeast France and, after a couple of hundred miles it briefly serves as the border between Germany and Luxembourg before heading into Germany. In France, there is some industrialization along the river and, for this reason, about 200 miles of its course are maintained in a commercially navigable condition, providing waterway transportation to the English Channel via the Rhine. In Germany, the river is largely flanked by low mountain ranges with sloping hills which, while not providing much encouragement for housing or commerce, seem to be a great home for vineyards judging by the endless lines of vines. Pleasant, two lane roads run alongside much the entire length of the river in Germany with bridge crossings every 20 miles or so. Townships along the river are varied but are all quite small. We spent some time at one such township, Alken, and stopped overnight at a little site closer to Trier. Our intention was to have a leisurely start the following day before moving on to Luxembourg. Well, that was the intention. It so happened that the following day was the first Sunday in June which seems to be some kind of witching day in this part of Europe. Locally, we learned, that on the morrow a 100 kilometer section of the roads on each side of the river were to be closed, from 8:00 am until 6:00 pm, to all traffic except bicycles and, if we wanted to move out it would have to be well before 8:00 am. Thus it was that we were in Luxembourg by 9:00 am next morning. So much for planning :-)

Alken is a municipality of less than 700 people. It lines one bank of the Moselle for about half a mile and has a thundering great castle at the top of this hill. Note the vineyards all the way up the hill
The currently functioning church

Church interior

One of the gates into the original part of the hamlet

This little church, although seemingly well maintained,
does not appear to be in use

The road by the river is fairly lined with the usual restaurant
offerings - a demitasse of coffee for $4.00, American coffee
(same thing in larger cup topped off with hot water) just $6.00

Back in the real world, life goes on as usual

Little chapels, such as this one across the river, abound.
By the roadside or in the corner of a field, we never
actually saw one used

We were directed to this restaurant about a mile from
the campsite. Luckily, the food was good and we
enjoyed pleasant evening

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