Wednesday 11 October – Saturday 14 October 2017
In order not to have a super long drive home from Switzerland on the last day, I spent my last 3 nights in the ‘Vulkaneifel’ region of Germany, somewhere between Cochem and Bitburg.
Bad = not bad at all
In my opinion most towns with ‘Bad’ (bath / spa) in the name are good places to stay in, with historical town centers, some old glory from being a spa town, and many of them still have spa centers. This was also the case for Bad Bertrich. It still features a big spa resort with healing natural spring water to swim in (at 32 degrees Celsius), saunas, steam rooms etcetera.
I stayed at hotel Bertricher Hof which had a good deal with a huge breakfast included. They made an egg to your personal wishes, offered organic muesli, home made marmelade, fresh fruit, good bread and more such things. The room and bathroom looked old-fashioned but it was clean and comfy.
On the first evening I just wandered around town a bit, made a reservation for a massage 2 days later, had nice food, and watched Netflix. 🙂
The town is very ‘decent’ and a bit boring, but I’m not staying long anyway.
Burg Eltz castle
On Thursday I slept as late as I could (still using the hotel breakfast) and visited a castle, Burg Eltz at about 50 minutes’ drive. Along the way I also ran into Burg Pyrmont:
From the parking lot to the castle it was a 20 minute walk, going ever so slightly uphill. Or you could take a shuttle bus for €2 one-way, but I didn’t feel like that. After the walk, Burg Eltz suddenly came into vision in a beautiful way:
It was good to see that drones are forbidden. I hate when those things fly overhead, making noise, filming you without consent, and can crash on your head. On Sicily one came very close to film my friend and I sitting on the beach in the evening, it was so invasive and intimidating!
The castle had a lovely terrace overlooking the green valley. It wasn’t crowded yet and I was peckish, so I decided to have lunch right away before actually visiting the castle. It was very reasonably priced. I had a very nice rhubarb soda and vegetarian lasagna. Right the minute I sat down in the only spot where I calculated the sun would appear any minute (which was true), a lot of other people arrived, including a large group of Asians who needed a lot of time to get the menu explained to them. Good timing on my part, yay!
Guided tour in German
After lunch I went up to the castle courtyard, I already had the €10 entry ticket. I was lucky because a guided tour in German was starting that very second, and you can only see that part of the castle with a guide. I was the last one who was allowed to join, the door was literally locked behind me. I was happy I didn’t need to wait for the English tour half an hour later. And I prefer a German group as well… generally more polite and quiet people than international groups.
The guide told us lots about the history, construction, and details in the rooms (I could understand about 95% of the German). For example how 3 families shared the castle at first. In one shared informal room, some symbols above the door indicate that things said and done there could never leave the room. “What happened in Vegas, stays in Vegas”, medieval style. 🙂
But one family didn’t have any male heirs and lost their part of the castle, so the 2 remaining families split that part. Some closed walls were opened. Later, 1 of those 2 families had themselves bought out. It is still in the hands of the remaining family, now generations later.
We were not allowed to take photos during the tour, so I am borrowing some images from their website to show what those rooms were like…
In another part of the castle, the treasure chambers, it was allowed to take photos. That part was also impressive and fun.
Some more photos of the castle and its surroundings:
That evening I ate delicious Spanish tapas in restaurant Twenty-Eight.
On Friday I was lucky with dry weather again, although later the hotel lady told me it had rained only 20 kilometers farther down. I went and did a hike that the tourist info bureau had recommended and where I was supposed to see some proof of the volcanic surroundings we were in. (I had gone over to the tourist info bureau the day before to get the info and map.)
I did see some rocks that looked like old lava, other than that it was just a very beautiful autumn forest hike. Perhaps a guide could have pointed out more volcanic sights but I went alone.
The map was a bit bad/wrong at some points, causing me to walk astray a few times and having to go back and pick up the route at a point that made more sense than the map. My app Galileo also helped: it shows all the tiny paths and the GPS signal indicates exactly where you are.
The hike was 8 kilometers but due to all the ascending and descending it was more taxing than I had expected, so it was a good thing I had started early.
I thought this bird was so cute because it really pronounced “TWEET” very literally. It had been tweeting for a while (hopefully friendlier messages than Trump), but it turned out to be camera shy… when I started filming it flew away quickly.
After braving all the tree roots hidden under piles of dead leaves, narrow sloping paths and slippery rocks during the hike, I came back into the town and made a really clumsy move on the pavement, almost splaying my ankle. What a dumb injury that would have been! But gladly I was okay.
In the town I treated myself to cheesecake. Wow, the portion was huge, I could barely finish it. But very good.
Spa & massage
I went back to the hotel to shower and pack my bag for the spa. After this I still had time to enjoy a beer at another terrace in town, in one of few sunny places.
I went to the spa and still had an hour and a half before the massage appointment which I enjoyed swimming in the ‘healing’ water, and sitting in a sauna. Later it turned out that the little gate I had gone through to the sauna, had activated another €5 you pay extra for that part of the spa. 😦 And as in other German spas, parts of the spa are with bathing gear, and the sauna part is not. It’s annoying to have to put your cold wet bikini back on to go back to the ‘clothed’ part of the spa.
Anyway, the massage was only 20 minutes and I asked the lady to do my tired legs. It was nice but very short…
On the way back to the hotel I bought a bottle of German herbal liquor (a lot like Jägermeister). The guy allowed me to try 3 different ones before I bought it. I enjoyed a bit of liquor with a Netflix film back in the hotel.
On Saturday the drive home went smoothly. The girls who had looked after my house and cat Lola had left the house in rather good state and with flowers on the table, and Lola was very cuddly. The weather was great! I had missed some weeks of horrible stormy autumn weather by being away and now the sun had joined me to the Netherlands.
I enjoyed my balcony, and the next day I was really ‘back home’ when I was able to play outdoor volleyball in the warm sun on the grass of Museumplein with my volleyball mates, and then have drinks together on a warm terrace.