Sunday, June 12, 2016

Burg Eltz and another visit to Cochem - 28 May 2016

First view of Burg Eltz from the trail
Last Saturday, we had an invitation to join 3 other couples from the area office to visit one of the most beautiful castles in Germany. Castle Eltz has been owned by the same family for centuries. Because of its location, it was essentially untouched by the world wars that destroyed so much in Germany. A portion of the castle is still a private residence for the family. A picture of the current owners was on a table in one of the public rooms we visited on the tour - mom, dad, three boys and a girl. In every respect this family looked ordinary -- except for the fact they own this castle.

There is a shuttle bus for those not up to a walk, but we walked a long trail through the woods along the edge of a ravine through which a small river runs. The river was swollen from storms the night before. As we drove out of the nearby village of Wierscheim, we noticed that the narrow road was buried in leaves. We speculated on the cause, but when Jeff was walking to the trailhead, he noticed ice in a pile under a tree. He scooped up a handful of marble-sized hailstones. There had been some strong thunderstorms the night before, and hail fell along the Mosel valley damaging sprouting grapevines. Our tour guide confirmed the hailstorm and said that the damage to the grape vineyards was significant. As you can imagine, there isn't much economically in this region of Germany other than vineyards, tourism, and river transport.

We could not take pictures inside the castle. It was in perfect condition, including 15th century tile flooring in one of the rooms. Because it was built on a rock, the castle is an interesting shape - one room had 6 corners. One nice thing, if you were a medieval person -- they had 20 private toilets. Of course, those toilets just emptied down the outside wall and likely fouled the river that loops around the rock.

We really enjoyed the day with Mitch and Yvonne Bausman, the Swensons and Galbraiths. The Bausmans live on the same floor we do, and we really enjoy them. Janet walks some mornings with Sister Bausman. They are serving in the area office doing technology support. They help stakes and units all across Europe with satellite broadcasts, internet, and other technology issues. The Swensons are fairly new (less than 2 months) and are working to support and promote programs for young single adults in the Europe West Area. The Galbraiths served an earlier mission working in the mission office like we are but in Tokyo. This mission for the Galbraiths is in public affairs. Elder Galbraith served here in Germany as a young man.

A young couple from Oklahoma City was traveling and visited the castle with us. We gave them a pass along card and chatted with them. They have quite an itinerary. They are both engineers working for oil and gas companies. He works at Chesapeake. Jeff commiserated with them on the hard times in the oil patch. There was also a couple of ladies with a little girl who are friends and serving in the air force. Mitch is former military, so the Bausmans enjoyed talking to them. We share our mission wherever we go with anyone who is interested.

Getting ready to walk

The woods were damp but beautiful

Misty vistas

Jeff was thinking that a jacket might have been a good idea - or at least a long sleeved shirt

This place was just amazingly picturesque

Guarding the gate

A bit of wall below the rock

The "island" in the river is normally a picnic spot, but the flood water cut it off

Lots of stair and ramps in the castle
Windows in an interior courtyard

The yellow building straight ahead is the oldest part of the castle and dates to the 1100s

What's in there?

The interior courtyard is a deep canyon of brick and stone.
Janet is collecting pictures of doors

The doors and the hardware are extremely old.
There was a fascinating treasury with artifacts from the family's extensive collection.

A miniature traveling altar. The wealthy took their religion with them when they traveled.
Elder Galbraith and Elder Bausman found a sunny spot for hot chocolate where they could solve the world's problems. 

Two more views

If you come visit us, we will definitely take you here. 
On the Mosel River at Cochem.

We were at Cochem in October and really enjoyed it. We drove there for a nice lunch in a sidewalk cafe and some shopping in the old city. Well, Janet shopped and Jeff wandered off to explore the narrow streets and take a picture or two.

This little tower is home to the town's flood gauge. Uh, the Mosel has flooded out a lot of the town repeatedly.
It was a beautiful day

The swans and their "ugly ducklings" were enjoying the sunshine, too.
The river valley is steep and really picturesque
Cochem town square with the pink city hall an the tower of the church with its unusual roof.
We love eating outdoors and usually find people at nearby tables to talk to. Our tags always draw curious stares and questions.
Part of the old castle lower fortifications on the river's edge
An old city gate tower built in the 1300s with a remaining portion of wall and the castle in the background from the peaceful confines of the cemetery.
Janet likes doors, so Jeff gets to post one of his pictures of manhole covers.

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