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Rhine / Mosel Rivers in Germany and Beyond

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Aug 1st, 2015, 03:53 PM
  #1
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Rhine / Mosel Rivers in Germany and Beyond

My husband and I are planning a trip for the end of September, beginning in Amsterdam, through Germany to Alsace, France and flying out of Basel. The itinerary could also be reversed. Our goal is to spend 3 days in Amsterdam, which has been suggested by many, then travel by train to the Rhine/Mosel area. We may stop in Cologne, store our luggage for a couple hours, to see the cathedral and Old Town. (It does make me a bit nervous to store our luggage at the beginning of our trip, though)

Next, we are planning 3-4 days in Cochem (on Mosel River) OR Braubach (on Rhine River) to see the Mosel/Rhine River area. My husband would prefer not to move hotels twice in this region.(I don't pack lightly, so I see his point.) We intend to take a train to Rudesheim and cruise back to Braubach or Koblenz depending whether we stay in Braubach or Cochem. In Braubach there is the advantage of less train travel time to get to Rudesheim and avoids the add'l train from Koblenz back to Cochem. Marksburg Castle is also right there in Braubach. But then Cochem seems to be a larger, livelier town and Burg Eltz Castle is not far away. Either way, we still plan to rent a car and visit some villages along the Mosel to as far as Bernkastel-Kues. Whether we visit the small Rhine River towns (including Bacharach) depends on our time.

We will then take a train and spend 3-4 more days in Colmar in the Alsace region. From Colmar we will take a day trip by train to Strasbourg , and also rent a car to visit a few Alsace wine villages. On our final day we will take a train to Basel, where we will depart for the US again.

If we stay in Cochem on the Mosel, the train takes us to Colmar through Koblenz or Trier (we've seen plenty of Roman ruins). But of interest may be a day visit to Heidelberg and/or Baden-Baden. I've heard different opinions about both towns. It would mean leaving Cochem through Koblenz and probably overnight in another town (location?). Any suggestions on this itinerary would be helpful.
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Aug 1st, 2015, 04:34 PM
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Boppard is a larger, livelier city on the west bank of the Rhine, almost opposite Braubach, that you should consider.

You can get there from Cologne just as easily as you can to Braubach, and you can catch a train to the south end of the Rhine Gorge to Bingen (across the river from Rüdesheim) and start your cruise there - just as easily as you can catch a train from Braubach to Rüdesheim. It's only minutes from Boppard to St. Goar and the other Rhine villages. And Boppard is a good place to end a cruise as well - there are more boats to Boppard per day than to Braubach and Koblenz.

Boppard scene: http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2769/4...c5c8b305_o.jpg
Boppard riverfront: http://www.pizza-toni-boppard.de/upl...r/IMG_0131.JPG
Boppard town square: http://static.panoramio.com/photos/large/9532687.jpg
Popular Boppard eatery: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikiped...%B6merburg.JPG
Gedeonseck terrace at top of chairlift overlooking Boppard: http://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/med...king-rhein.jpg

It is not problematic to get to Cochem from Boppard, 1-1.3 hours by train.

I'm not sure you gain anything at all by renting a car in this area. There are numerous nice towns and destinations along the Mosel between Koblenz and Cochem that are served by train including the wine village of Winningen and Moselkern (Burg Eltz walk.)
Winningen: https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4120/...50deb0ee_z.jpg

Bernkastel is one hour from Cochem whether you drive or use public transport.

Southwest of Cochem along the Mosel the train will get you to Reil, another wine town, Traben-Trarbach, Bullay and Alf (nice walks from here including Arras Castle,) and Neef.

Beilstein is a popular destination that is not served by train - but you can cruise there from Cochem in one hour, like many choose to do.

Day passes make outings by public transport very reasonable, and the scenery from the train is great:
http://www.vrminfo.de/en/tickets-and...eisure-ticket/
http://www.zughalt.de/wp-content/upl...10/DB11321.jpg

"We intend to take a train to Rudesheim and cruise back to Braubach or Koblenz depending whether we stay in Braubach or Cochem."

If you stay in Cochem... do not cruise all the way to Koblenz; get off in Boppard or Braubach and take the train from there into Koblenz to catch your train to Cochem. That way you won't waste time and cruise € on the less impressive scenery that greets you north of Braubach as you approach Koblenz, and you won't waste a lot of time walking across Koblenz to get to your train. In these smaller towns the KD dock is much closer to the railway station than in Koblenz. And they're much more attractive towns to be in overall as well.
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Aug 1st, 2015, 04:57 PM
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We just spent the night in Cochem. I would say it is ok for a day trip. We did hike up to the castle and that was nice but the town sort of closes down when the cruise ships leave. We just wanted to see the castle lit at night. Everything was closing down early. I think I would stay in Boppard.
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Aug 1st, 2015, 06:50 PM
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Seems like a lot of folks say just pass thru Koblenz but to me after trekking thru there for years leading bike trips that stayed in Koblenz two days each time lets me sauy Koblenz should not be neglected - it has some really nice features - especially on the Rhine and Mosel riverfronts - a huge fortress looms above the confluence of Rhine and Mosel - take a cable car up there from Koblenz and walk up thru tunnels hewn out of the cliffs and tour the old fort and marvel at the awesome views over Rhine and Mosel for miles around.

And check out Deutsches Eck, at the confluence of Rhine and Mosel and a vary famous place of national sentiment in all of Germany - the German Unity Corner at the confluence of Rhine and Mosel - once had a huge plinth with a huge equestrian statue of Kaiser Wilhelm, the modern unifer of Germany from a bunch of mini-states - but in the waning days of WW2 the statue was blasted to bits by a perhaps bored American GI firing just across the Mosel, blown the Kaiser to smithereens. (This story told to me by the camp owner of the camping municipal we camped in for years - right at the spot where the GI fired from.)

Anyway now with a new German Unity - deutsches Eck - German Unity Corner is as popular as ever to Germans - who flock here to pay homage to German Unity.

So Koblenz also has a neat Altstadt with lots of nice eateries, etc and one of Germany's classic pedestrian shopping areas.

So don't neglect Koblenz - one of the most ingtirguing cities in Germany and which IME should be included on any Rhine/Mosel itinerary and not dismissed out of hand as it oft is.
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Aug 1st, 2015, 08:51 PM
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"Koblenz - one of the most ingtirguing cities in Germany..."

Koblenz is rarely described using superlatives like "most intriguing." It was almost completely flattened in WW II, then somewhat hastily rebuilt. Walking across town from the railway station to the smallish old town zone or the Deutsches Eck simply isn't very interesting. Lots of busy modern streets, a shopping zone with a mall and chain stores much like any other city you might name. The Deutsches Eck has a bit of drama to it but you'll need to ask PalenQ about the intrigue of Koblenz. I've been there several times myself for this reason or that - last fall in fact - and I find that element completely lacking. If you end up needing a car, Koblenz is probably where you could pick one up. But I wouldn't feel compelled to stay there beyond that.

As for WW II, there is a good museum in Remagen to the north that spills intriguing stories of the battle for the bridge there: http://www.bruecke-remagen.de/index_en.htm
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Aug 2nd, 2015, 04:56 AM
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I too think the car rental thing in the Mosel is not the solution (unless your idea of visiting is a drive by), I'd get on a train and go off to visit one town, walk over the hill to the next and then jump on another train. Careful study of google maps will show you where the stations are.

My favorite towns remain Bernkastel (visit the wine museum and get drunk), Traben, Urzig (for the walks), Trier for the buildings and the wines, but really there are some wonderful walks along cliff edges, through the countryside/vinyards and the bus ot train systems are excellent. There is very little reason to drive out of the valley. Alt, you could hire a bike and tootle along (or take it on a train and tootle back), stop off at a local inn, eat local food etc.

Bike rental shops change a lot, but tourist info for each town will either have them on their website or use google maps and the word Fahrradverleih in the search engine will spot them if they are on the web (though of course your hotel might have free ones.

http://www.mybikeguide.co.uk/Mosel_Guide.php helps too

Cochem, fodorites differ on their views, for me I'd stay just about anywhere else along the valley (even Koblenz which at least has a castle across the Rhine to visit), but some people like the concentration of tourist facilities and post cards that are available here.

This thread may interest you as it covers both Alsace and the Mosel (and Pfalz)

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...es-of-wine.cfm
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Aug 2nd, 2015, 06:39 AM
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bilboburgler, exactly. The twisted road getting there was the highlight of Cochem. I did enjoy the hike to the castle but it was closed when we got there. Everything sort of closes at six and we had to hunt for a decent place to eat dinner. It is a very touristy place. The worse part was parking. Our hotel had none but their website said they did. They did but very far away in a car park. We went to Speyer and Worms. Loved the Jewish cemetery there.
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Aug 2nd, 2015, 06:57 AM
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bookmarking (thanks for all the great info on this thread!)
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Aug 2nd, 2015, 07:22 AM
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It's a shame you're giving no time to Basel. It has some beautiful historic neighborhoods, some streets as pretty as any you'll see elsewhere on your trip. And the Munster in Basel is a handsome building on a lovely square with an excellent view over the Rhine and towards the Black Forest.
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Aug 2nd, 2015, 08:34 AM
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post cards that are available here.>

they still have postcards? time warp? All I know is that the 1,000 folks I took for two-day stays in Cochem absolutely loved it - well most of them. Good for folks going by train too as most of the Mosel is not readily accessible by train. but some prefer the quietness and serenity of say a Beilstein - different strokes for different folks and you cannot go wrong in the Mosel IMO no matter where you stay.
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Aug 2nd, 2015, 01:22 PM
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Cochem: "The worse part was parking... I did enjoy the hike to the castle but it was closed when we got there."

I agree with PalenQ on Cochem. Cochem much more than a place for post cards; it is a delightful place, an adorable tangle of cobblestoned streets and half-timbered buildings, a great place for walking and exploring and one of my favorite places to stay in all of Europe. I suppose no town can be everything to everyone, but one must keep one's expectations in check.

Like pretty much all castles, Reichsburg Castle closes for tours at 5 pm. I would never wander up at that hour and expect it to be open. Like most old-world towns that were built many centuries ago before anyone knew about the automobile or parking houses, Cochem has very little convenient parking. I wouldn't expect a town with old town walls, impossibly narrow alleyways, and lovely old towers to up-end all that for parking lots, etc. And I wouldn't expect a town of 5,000 people to have much in the way of evening entertainment either.
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Aug 3rd, 2015, 05:13 AM
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fussg, We knew the castle was closed but the hike was what we wanted. I have seen the inside of enough castles but wanted to see the river and town from that vantage point. We also wanted to see the castle lit at night so went across the bridge but the place was closing so found another place open and ordered drinks but they closed around us so left again and then found an ice cream place and they did the same. We were thinking it was us. I was determined and we saw it lit. About the parking. They said they had parking but the car park was a distance away and I was not feeling good about the park itself. We hid everything we could in the car. Hate not having a boot but was a fastback VW. Some people might love this but not all. Our hotel told us where to find more local dining, we had been eating off the spargel menu all week and wanted more. Turns out it was the hotel owner's mom's place but ok. So, not saying don't go there but if you want something more in the evening then no. We hiked till around nine so we were content with that.
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Aug 3rd, 2015, 08:23 AM
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If you want to trek up to a ruined castle from Cochem there is one - trail right from town to a ruined castle perched high above the Mosel - always open - no fences - wondrous views - name of the ruin escapes me but right near town.
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Aug 3rd, 2015, 09:27 AM
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Thank you for your valuable information, photos, and websites. The suggested towns to visit are very helpful, especially on limited time. We will definitely reconsider driving along the Mosel, and possibly use public transportation instead. Visiting Burg Eltz does seem a challenge, though. We also always have to "retrain" ourselves for train usage when we travel in Europe. (I got off a train in Cinque Terra, doors closed, and my husband was left on the train to arrive in one of several possible "next" stops.)

Boppard seems like another alternative than Cochem for a hotel stay that fits our itinerary. I will definitely look into it.

So many interesting ideas, opinions and suggestions to consider. We'll also be traveling to Alsace, so more possibilities and decisions.
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Aug 3rd, 2015, 11:13 AM
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Burg Eltz is simple to get to - train to Moselkern then taxi or mini bus to the castle - or a few-mile gently uphill stroll thru lovely forests. German local trains should be a lot more user friendly than those dumpy Italian regional trains serving the Cinque Terre villages.

Marksburg Castle on the Rhine not far from Boppard is great too - about the only two intact castles on either river than have not been rebuilt.
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Aug 3rd, 2015, 12:49 PM
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Hi juneabee
When posters write 3 days in Amsterdam, or any other location, I wonder do they mean 3 nights or 4 nights and 3 full days. Which do you mean when you write 3 days in Amsterdam? Anyway it looks like you are planning a well thought out vacation.

Based on your input I would tweak your plan as follows:

After 3 nights in Amsterdam I would take an 8am train from Amsterdam arriving Cologne 10:45am. Tour the cathedral, have lunch, rent a car and drive 1-3/4 hours to Burg Eltz. You may want to rent the car when arriving in Cologne in order to to store your luggage while touring the Cologne cathedral. Driving to Burg Eltz saves a couple of hours of walking from Moselkern train station to/from Burg Eltz. To me Burg Eltz is the must see castle in the area. After Burg Eltz you can drive to your hotel in Braubach/Cochem/Boppard for 3 nights.

This leaves you a full day to see some villages in the Mosel valley and another day to take the boat ride from Rudesheim to Boppard/Braubach. If you have a 3rd day you could see more villages/towns and castles in the area. Perhaps some cycling.

>> But of interest may be a day visit to Heidelberg and/or Baden-Baden <<.

For you, the best way to see these towns is to drive while transitioning to the Alsace. After your 3 night stay in Rhine/Mosel you can drive 1-3/4 hours to Heidelberg, tour the castle , have lunch and continue to Baden-Baden for one night. Personally I would substitute Gengenbach (1-1/2 hours from Heidelberg) for Baden-Baden. The next morning turn in your German car in Gengenbach (Offenburg) and take a 30 min train ride to Strasbourg (excellent baggage storage available) . Spend the day in Strasbourg and then take the train to Colmar for 3 nights.

A two day itinerary might look like this:
Day 1 Tour Colmar in the morning, rent a car and tour Chateau du Haut- Koenigsbourg and a village or two in the afternoon.
Day 2 More villages. Ones I really like are Equisheim, Riquewihr (stayed there on last visit), Ribeauville, and Kaysersberg.
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Aug 3rd, 2015, 01:42 PM
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dugi has a nice thoughtful take - if you want to take the train to Cochem or Rhine/Mosel base sand save a day of car rental it may be cheaper and quicker and if you want to visit Burg Eltz from Moselkern does not mean a two-hour walk but a taxi or minibus from the Moselkern train station but dugi's idea to drive from Cologne is nice too - Cologne's station also has luggage lockers in case you want to train it.

If planning to do the Rhine one day you do not need a car that day either - the K-D boats plying the best part regularly (Rudesheim/Bingen to Koblenz) - save another day car rental then rent in Boppard or Cochem and drive to Burg Eltz.

Lots of possibilities!
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Aug 5th, 2015, 09:38 PM
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"Visiting Burg Eltz does seem a challenge, though."

It's not.

If you don't wish to walk or take a taxi, the "Castle Bus" or Burgenbus travels to Burg Eltz from the Treis-Karden on Saturday and Sunday. If you're coming from Boppard or Cochem on a day pass, the same day pass you would use to reach Moselkern (for the walk to Eltz) will get you by train to Treis-Karden and then to Eltz on the Burgenbus.

Current Burgenbus schedule: http://burg-eltz.de/images/stories/d...chfahrplan.pdf

http://burg-eltz.de/en/planning-your...blic-transport

Walking to Eltz from Moselkern is a lovely undertaking, not difficult - part of the experience IMO. There will be lots of others doing the same thing. My 75-year-old in-laws did it without difficulty. Bavaria Ben has photos and directions with a description of the walk at his site:

http://www.bensbauernhof.com/burgeltzfrommoselkern.html
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Aug 6th, 2015, 12:08 AM
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"Walking to Eltz from Moselkern is a lovely undertaking, not difficult - part of the experience IMO"

Amen
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Aug 6th, 2015, 11:57 AM
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"Walking to Eltz from Moselkern is a lovely undertaking, not difficult - part of the experience IMO"

Amen>

Amen, Awomen - lovely walk did not seem difficult at all - coming down especially nice - all slightly downhill. Yes see the castle looming above getting ever closer as you climb - whetting the anticipation. If take cab or bus up at least walk back down.
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