Monday, May 16, 2011

Moseying along the Mosel

Panorama took a sharp left at Koblenz for a detour up the Mosel, a winding, narrow river between Internet-incompatible steep hills, the Panorama squeezing through several locks with literally a foot to spare each side, taking us up to Cochem so we could go inside a castle, for a change. It was a - hmm, can't  avoid this - fairytale castle, all turrets and towers and ivy and stained glass windows, ancient but rebuilt in the 19th century by someone who knew what a Disneyland castle should look like. Rather less happy-kingdom, it was taken over by the Third Reich for several years, but now belongs to the town again and is just lovely inside, decorative and furnished with antiques, and surprisingly warm, and full of interesting touches like the lock that has metal guides to help people the worse for drink to find the hole for the key.

The town is another that's mainly pedestrian because of its narrow lanes, and it does make for a relaxing feel. Today's guide, Marie-Luis, was almost normal except for her enjoyment of the story of the poor goat squeezed in a wine press to see if it had been eating the grapes, which inspired a fountain in the town. She seemed to miss the similarities with the castle's Witch Tower, for flinging out women suspected of magic to test their mortality.

And now we're on our way back down the Rhine to Cologne tomorrow, to see the huge cathedral and sniff some perfumes before heading away north to Holland and Amsterdam and the end of our cruise on this very comfortable but hideously fattening ship (tonight's 8-course wine-matching dinner a case in point). But in the meantime, there are nightingales to enjoy, singing out there in the dark.

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