Like a dog straining against its leash as it is lead closer to the end of its “walkies”, we were very much pulling ourselves away mentally from the reality that us and the old Eriba would soon be parting ways. Our two months trundling along the roads of Europe was such a wonderful adventure and we were extremely reluctant to admit to ourselves that like all good things, it must come to an end. It got to the point that we would scry (our made up word to describe the act of screaming and crying at the same time) aloud and in mock desperation, “Wohnwagen!”(along the lines of the “WILSON!!!” moment for Tom Hanks character in Castaway).
When we crossed over the border from France into Germany, there really was no more denying that we truely were homeward bound, so to speak. But stuff it, nothing like bald-faced denial when confronted with unpalatable truths! Our planned two night stay in the Mosel Valley very easily and readily got stretched out to five nights. We thus set ourselves up for what we expected to be two days of epic driving, al la route to Croatia. But we didn’t care, quite frankly. Deny, deny, deny!
Admittedly our decision was aided and abetted by some insider knowledge imparted by our new found friend, Colin. The German/Pommy we met at our campground in Erden. Colin assured us over a few quiet ones that the Mosel Valley was really the last standout tourist destination on our return path to Graepel, so obviously, we owed it to ourselves to set up camp and dig in our heels in Erden! Erden incidently means “earth” in German. So therefore, a perfect place for digging in!
And dig in we did. We pretty much whiled away the majority of our time in and around the immediate surrounds of our little campground at Erden. It was such a lovely and quiet little spot, with luscious green grass that was long and soft and entirely inviting underfoot. The camp was well located right next to the Mosel River, and it had what I came to decide was some of the most picturesque views of vineyards along this seemingly never ending valley of vines. The staff were also friendly and I think they were quite taken with the novelty of having some Aussies staying with them. One day as we sat having lunch at the restaurant the owner had me on the phone to her daughter for a yarn, as her daughter had spent some months in Australia in 2010!
There was also Colin who had a caravan at Erden and has been coming to the Mosel for years. Colin spoke English with a Pommy accent but had grown up predominantly in Germany. It was a bit of a novelty I guess for us to have met Colin as the vast majority of our last six months has been spent living in countries where English is not the first language spoken, so you never know to what degree you can communicate with the people you meet. Thus we hit it off with Colin, and we both missed him when he left a day earlier than us.
Our time in Erden turned out to be a very fitting and relaxing end to our caravan capers. Although we were content to hang out mostly in Erden, we did go for a very enjoyable bike ride along the valley to the town of Bernkastel-Kues. The Germans really embrace bike riding and there are bike paths extensively throughout the country. Mosel was a great example of how this German past time has been made such a great experience. Not content with just one bike path, there was usually paths on both sides of the road and on occasions a third just for good measure! It all added up to just a top way to get around and take in what I assume is a unique example of vineyards on sheer slopes. I had what I refer to a serious case of perma-grin during said bike ride.
The valley apparently extends from source to mouth for 546 km (thanks Wikipedia). I guess we drove through about 200 odd kilometres of that. If you take into account that the cliffs of the valley are then covered in vineyards, you start to get a picture of just how vast and impressive a sight it is. Some of the cliff faces (like those opposite our campground) are very steep and you’d have to pay me a lot of money to want to work under those conditions! I spent one morning photographing in awe the workers across the way, toiling on the precipice of the opposite bank. Clearly they do not suffer vertigo like this little scardie cat!
Bernkastel-Kues is a bonafide tourist destination, with good reason I might add. It is a totally charming town and an excellent example of the highly appealing architecture of the valley. The buildings are a very pleasing combination of wood, colourful but tasteful paint jobs and a lovely example of (what I think) are dark brown layered slate buildings. Couple that with the ever present vines growing on slopes and throw in an ancient castle on a hill that you can hike up to, and hey presto! You have a winning town visit (minus the extremely dodgey coffee experience in the castle – lucky the views compensated!).
In short it may not be regular on the Aussie tourist trail but seriously, it was a great find and I rated it as our final Wohnwagen long stay moment.