Thursday, October 3, 2019

Camino Mosel - Last entry

Trier, the oldest town in Germany. Roman, and beyond its gates lies the barbaric Germanic people (back then of course). The black port (Porta Nigra), roman baths, amphitheatre, etc.. all the trappings of civilized living.
Also the birthplace of Trier's most famous son Karl Marx (even though he spents most of his adult life elsewhere, particularly in England). China gifted the statue, and while not sure how Trier really thought about it, it is at least an added attraction for tourist from China. 😄

Camino Mosel - Day 7 - Trier

Clocked 35 km. Basically did 2 stages today. Today's stage is supposed to be only to Schweich, just 15 km (14 km clocked). From Schweich tomorrow's stage is 22 km (21 km clocked) to the Church of St. Matthias (St. Matthew) in Trier where this Camino ends. I decided to just keep going since 15 km is really a short distance as I was already in Schweich at 11:20 am!
So after a sandwich and coffee in Schweich I push on, invigorated by the coffee. But not long after after Schweich I saw the Trier city sign, which meams the towns  from now are all suburbs of Trier. Plus big highways can be spotted from the hills, still good walking in the hills but the towns are getting more urban. Decided to switch mode and finish as fast as I can, just push further, maybe next town (no potential lodging here), how about a bit further, and before I know it at 35 km I finally arrive at the Church of St. Matthias around 3:40 pm 😲
The end point is all the way in the south of the city, not traversing through the city but walking along the river's edge, pass the Roman bridge, and finally a left turn to the church. Got the final stamp from the church's souvenir shop and found that they don't offer a place to stay (unlike the info on the internet). 😬
The man there printed directions for a hostel in the center Altstadt (old city). That's another additonal 2.5 km from Trier south to the center for this already dead tired walker. I must have gone up at least 5 hills today getting here.
The hostel in the old city is a perfect location though and very central, Porta Nigra, the statue of Karl Marx, food, shops, etc  I'll write an epilogue on this blog tomorrow. Now able to rest (today's the longest distance for me on this Camino by combining 2 stages).
This is the end of the Mosel Camino. About 160 + km. From here it's about another 2000 + km to Santiago de Compostela if one is up to it? Nah.. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Camino Mosel - Day 6 - Klüsserath

Short 18 km (20 km clocked). The weather looks more menacing today. 8.2 km later got into Klausen. The church here is the second after St. Matthias in Trier for local pilgrimages. Because of that there is a pilgrim lodge. Why did they do it in the middle of the stage? If I've known earlier I would havr walked the extra distance here. Anyway moving on and it started to rain when I was in the open fields. Finally I have to take out the poncho for the first time, then again for only 10 minutes when it stopped and I got into the woods. There are many rest spot along the way for people with tents, this one even has a fireplace in the middle. After that the trail diverted from the usual route, even backtrack a little. Found out later that rather than just go down into Klüsserath, this detour present a panoramic view.
Klüsserath seems like a working town. Lots of grape processing. The information office was closed and from the billboard of the town got myself a gästezimmer/weinstube run by an old couple. The only place to eat here is a pizza place and a restaurant servicing the trailer park. The former is closed on Tuesday and the latter just closed. 😮
Ask the couple for option and the husband drove me down the street to a small restaurant that wasn't in the listing. Phrew...
The people on the next table were eating what look like pizza. I've seen that in the past few days and wonder what it was. It's called flammkuchen, apparently a local dish here. The crust is very thin and the cheese are creamier.
Beginning to enjoy this pattern as the daily distance are short. Shower, breakfast, walk, lunch snack, walk again, arrive around 2 pm, shower, siesta, dinner, rinse and repeat.... 

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Camino Mosel - Day 5 - Osann-Monzel

18 km today. Make that plus 3 km for me. More on that later.
Had breakfast with Ulrike, the lady that runs the pilgrim lodge. She rents the place from the church and this is her business. She runs it from Easter to end October (no heating). She told me she will have a big group staying from Wednesday because of a local festival or something. That's how she manage, and not only for pilgrims. I was just lucky to have the whole place to myself. 😆
This is the first time on this camino that I interacted with someone other than just briefly. Before I know it, it was already 9 am, time to move on.
Climbing is a guarantee here after breakfast and from the view on top of the hill looking back at the church/lodge. It is a nice refuge. Incidentally I was told that the church next door is one of few Protestant church in this region. The Latin School (now the lodge run by Ulrike) was originally meant to educated the Catholics here so they can read the bible for themselves (no sure how much success they have. 🤔)
Anyway, this is indeed grape harvesting time.
A good walk among the green and down to Bernkastel-Kues, with a castle on top (same pattern again). Walking along the river for a change to Lieser before heading up and walking along vineyard path with the Mosel below. A little different from the past few days seeing the Mosel only when coming down or up to the forest. Half way at the viewpoint bench I stopped for the sandwich. Nice and slow to Osann-Monzel, confident that the lodge info Ulrike gave me would be available. When I found it, it seems to be like a mini apartments unit. Tried to call the number but number is not working. A lady going in (a guest in one of the units) helped me ring the main bell (probably the owner's unit). Nothing.
Another decision again. There is a hotel near right on the route. Osann-Monzel is above the Mosel and tiny Kesten is down by the river. The hotel sign says the reception will open only at 3 pm. Rather than wait an hour maybe I'll walk 1.4 km down to Kesten to try my luck. If it fails another 1.4 km uphill. 😣
In Keston, the only guest house (weinstube) is not even letting out rooms. 😳
So it's up again and hoping there is vacancy. Phrew... as I am writing this in my room now.
Osann-Monzel (Osann the north part, Monzel the south where the route cuts) seems like a working town. Didn't see any restaurant nearby, guess dinner will be at the hotel. 

Monday, September 30, 2019

Camino Mosel - Day 4 - Traben-Trarbach

23 km (clocked 23.5 km) and three climbs again today.
A sumptuous breakfast buffet, biggest I've seen here. As usual after crossing the bridge from Bullay, it's uphill straight away, while I try to keep my breakfast from coming out of me after reaching the top of Marienburg. Then it is downhill again and crossing the bridge over to Zell. I like Zell, with lots of eating establishments and local activities. Would be nice to stay here but that would add another 6.5 km to yesterday's distance.
After that it is another steep climb up with a beautiful panoromic view of the hairpin river. The Mosel meander so much that there are just too many hairpin turns. Even if one would to walk along the river (probably not possible for some areas), it would be about 3 times the travel distance. After the view still more climbing. By then (2 climbs) I no longer need to keep the breakfast in as they are mostly gone. 😁
My favorite part is to walk along the forest and the green. Then it is down to Enkirch and almost immediately up again for the third time today. In between I met a German lady walking the other way to Koblenz from today. Either she stays in Traben-Trarbach or at least her car is there. Another Dutch couple also hiking for a few days. There is a Moselsteig hiking trail that shares the camino path here and there. The third climb didn't get me to the top but skirt along the ridge line near the top. Thay only meant many narrow up/down, making walking tougher. Finally a steep down to Traben-Trarbach, which is the smaller part as the town as the bigger part of town is across the bridge. Not sure if where I am now is Traben or Trarbach, probably Traben as it looks older judging from the buildings.
As already researched yesterday, there are only 3 stars hotel and above here on this side. Tried to find guest house but with no luck. Plan B is now the pilgrim lodging run by a Latin school (as in the language) besides the church just off the camino route.
27 euros with breakfast. Turns out I am the only one. Nine beds plus two more in the upper loft and only one person. 😮
It's cold. It's an old building so there is no heating. 😳
There are bedsheets, blanket and towels. Seems like there is no need to bring our own towels or sleeping on German Caminos. If I had known that earlier it would have slice a kg off my carrying oad. 😬

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Camino Mosel - Day 3 - Bullay

The longest daily distance I think for this camino at 27 km, I clocked 30 km to the tourist office (also a travel office) but it was closed on Saturday afternoon. A setback to my daily tourist office plan, foiled by this thing called the weekend. 😬
Plan B, looked around and the only other place I can find that doesn't cost an arm is the cake cafe guest house. 10 euros more than yesterday but at least I have a room with an attached bathroom. Plus they have breakfast buffet also available also for the public for 9.90 euro. So as a guest I think I am going enjoy very much the breakfast tomorrow. I am getting spoiled by hearty German breakfast. I am slowly settling into a pattern here, big breakfast, sneak out a sandwich lunch for the walk, and a light meal for dinner. That and lots of desserts. 😆
Cake cafes are everywhere.
Back to the walking. Basically up and along the forest and fields and down to Beilstein before the day's midpoint, with Castle at Beilstein in view. Too bad the route didn't go up and through the castle. Instead it was up again and over a km on the road (not good) before cutting into the trails. The stack of stone piles (a camino tradition) was a surprise prompting me to add one more. Lots of mushroom today, some already burst like in Aliens to spread its spores.
10 km later two up and down to Bullay means three spikes in total today for only two encounters with the river.😕
Have already got used to climbing first thing after breakfast every day (like Camino Norte, the same for coast, the same for river).
Quick check on wiki and found that the Rhineland-Palatinate are mostly Catholic, which explains the many religious statues or motif in this mainly Protestant country.
So nice to be walking among the trees, occasionally with squirrel here and there (to fast for pic), similar to rabbits in Spain. 😁

Friday, September 27, 2019

Camino Mosel - Day 2 - Treis Kardon

Left Alken and cross over the river to Löf. They were harvesting the grapes. I think it is the time now. Picked a couple to eat. That's one good thing walking in autumn. Grape harvest. 😄
As usual leaving the river means up the hill. There is a pilgrim friendly house I've seen on the internet leaving stuff for pilgrims that walked by. As it is autumn, the surprise here is a bottle of snapps with shot glasses. 😮
I poured myself one, a toast to the house offering it (seems no one home) and move on. Thanks.🤗
Once up the hill, another panoramic view of another town across the river. There is a windsock, and in summer one can paraglide here.
Onward and finally saw the Eltz castle from up the hill, one of the main attraction here and also on this camino. It's hidden in the valley. A very fairy tale looking castle (Germany has too many to count) with lots of day tripper visiting. After some food on the hill's vantage point, walked down for coffee at the castle. Though the prices are dear, it's just a nice coffee to enjoy the castle up close.
Met 2 hikers there, but they are only walking for 3 days. I have not met any walkers so far and I don't think I will given the weather, time of the year, etc.
On the way out I made a wrong turn and mostly followed the crowd almost back to their cars parked on top of the other side of the hill. Cost me almost a km and up/down the hill. Found the reason as the split of the path was so close together. 😬
After going down and later another climb, a beautiful sight of Kardon appears. As usual, the last bit is a steep climb down to the town. Found the tourist office and got myself another pension at Treis (town opposite Kardon on the Mosel). It is also the way out tomorrow. Ah, so that's why it is called Kardon Treis. Twin towns across the river. I stopped the tracker at the tourist office. 21.64 km for what would be 19 km (without my mistake). Another 1.2 km cross the bridge and further down to Treis, I can finally relax for the day and have a late lunch after 2 pm. The place is 33 euros including breakfast. My other options based on the internet guide are the youth hostel or monastery (both out of the Camino Mosel path). Nah, I find that my new method to be better, by using the tourist office (since the whole Mosel valley is one big tourist attraction means tourist offices are everywhere). That means I will be lugging my sleeping bag and towel, not utilizing them. Maybe I will have a chance to use it later, but at these pension prices, a week's worth of lodging seems more than alright. Also I don't expect too many camino like albergue here, especially around this time.

Camino Mosel - Day 1 - Alken

Left at 7:30 in the morning from the old city in Koblenz and walked what would be 7.5 km to Stolzenfels, arriving exactly 9:10 am to find the opening at 10 am. So the info I got from the pilgrim assocation here wasn't too accurate. After a quick break decided to continue and get the credencial from Alken tourist office (today's stopping point) instead. Besides, it has started to rain (more like a drizzle), and I see no point hanging around until 10 am.
The good thing about the thicker canopy from the trees here is that I don't get very wet when it's drizzling compared with being in the open. Surprisingly until the end of today's walk I didn't even need to use the poncho. Hope it does not get worse than this the next few days.
The waymarkings is really good (German efficiency). Not pasted anywhere but strategically when you need it. Some arrows are on top of what look like bird feeder (probably not as the hole are too small).
Someone put a statue of a hunter looking on his bino for his prey.
No places to stop until Alken, just self stop when I find park benches for energy bars, banana, nuts....
A steep climb even after Castle Stolzenfels, then taper out and was more manageable until Alken when there is a very steep descent with guiding ropes in some places. Castle on top, vineyard along the steep slopes and the Mosel river below. The white grapes (few small bunches here and there) so I am not sure if the majority were already harvested. I snuck a couple in my mouth (thief!) and they tasted very sweet. Suddenly my mind wandered to a very typical autumn/winter drink.... (hot Glühwein!)
This small town is touristy. At the tourist office I finally got my credencial, 4 euros and self filled so I supposed they don't take statistics on the Jakobsweg (Camino) here. Since I was there I ask the tourist office if there are any albergue or cheap lodgings. She called and got me a pension (apparently many pensions here besides hotels). Phrew.
22 euros with breakfast (8 am), not albergue but darn cheap for a pension... in Germany. The old man of the house Klein showed me quite a big room (shared toilet). But no wifi (internet) though. He looks the type that doesn't even use the internet. 😣.
So today's walk, 24 km door to door. Not a bad distance for the first day. With a Fitbit wearable this time and the app, I am getting way more information than I need .... Besides the distance and track via gps, over 30k steps, 180+ floors climb, my heart rate data, active minutes... etc, if it even means anything.😄
Maybe from the cool wind and/or the wetness, I was hungry but couldn't eat then, so I had a soup instead at the cafe (nice decor)....and coffee (oh how I miss the coffee in Spain, Portugal, Italy)...and also an apple tart (just because it's Germany and everyone around seems to be eating desserts).
Later I would need a hearty dinner. Tomorrow looking good, short distance and looking like more chances of passing through small towns (with cafe?) 🤔 🤞

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Camino Mosel - Day 0 - Koblenz

Arrived in Frankfurt and an early train to Koblenz. The train after Mainz starts to move along the Rhine river, also passing Lorelei. The Mosel river from Koblenz is a tributary of the Rhine and this Camino will end in Trier.
I have to wait for till 3 pm for the code for the apartment to get in so unfortunately have to wander around the Koblenz with the backpack. Found the camino marker (apparently one of the two alternate path) of the Camino out of the city. 5 km south of the city at the castle Stolzenfels is the official start point for this Camino (go figure).
There at the castle I was told from 9 am tomorrow I can get my kredenza (credencial) for this Camino. If they are closed then I was told I can get it at the tourist office in Alken, the stopping point for the first day (another 19 km).
Prepaid data sim (checked), some provision from the supermarket to carry for tomorrow (checked). Just waiting for the room, a nice dinner.... and sleep before tomorrow's walk.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Last minute packing

A short Camino (8 days) along the Mosel valley in Germany. Fingers crossed for betting weather than what is forecast. 😬