After finishing the blog this morning, I head up to the Sun Deck where I could see the Second Captain guiding ms Grace into a lock. Now that we are on the Moselle river, we have quite a few locks to transit. This one appears to be about 6 to 8 meters deep and we will be rising to the level of the river on the other side. No matter how many times you see the lock maneuver, it is still interesting.
Tauck ms Grace heads into a lock on the Moselle river
The rest of the morning was spent leisurely cruising on the Moselle River which, by the way, is much less crowded than the Rhine. On the Moselle, you don't have all the huge commercial boat traffic and barges that you see on the Rhine, so it is much more peaceful and the scenery is amazing.
The view of the Moselle from our loft cabin window
Today's meal schedule is a bit unique. Instead of a full breakfast at the normal time, there is a Continental breakfast in the Panorama Lounge from 7:30am to 9:30am. The lunch buffet has been replaced with a brunch in the Compass Rose restaurant from 10:30am until 12:30pm. The change is necessary to accommodate the afternoon excursions, which will begin at 12:30 today. The brunch included eggs made-to-order, roast beef, a tuna melt, pasta, fish, puff pastry with chicken, and a lot more. Rickee ordered Eggs Benedict and I tried a few items from the buffet.
A nice selection of charcuterie is always available on the buffet
By noon, ms Grace was docking in Cochem, Germany, and by 12:30 we were departing the vessel for our walking tour of the city and Reichsburg Castle. Every excursion begins with a visit to the Panorama Lounge to pick out two colored poker chips to determine which local guide we would be joining.
Colored poker chips and local maps
After selecting the chips, you drop them in the nearby bucket making sure to remember what color you selected. That's it! As guests depart the lobby area, a table is always set up with complimentary bottled water -- a very nice touch. Rickee always picks up a couple of bottles to put in her backpack for the excursion.
Complimentary bottled water
After verifying that we have our Vox audio units, we hand our key cards to one of the young ladies at the Reception Desk so she can swipe the card to indicate that we are off the ship. We then walk down the gangway to the shore where we meet our local guide who is holding a green Tauck sign (since I had selected green poker chips).
ms Grace docked at Cochem, Germany
After our group gathered around our guide, she led us on a short walk into the town of Cochem. We had to cross the main bridge, which is where we got our first unobstructed view of Reichsburg Castle, an impressive sight to be sure.
We had previously visited and toured the castle back in 2003 but, to be honest, I don't remember much about it. So, we were anxious to re-visit the castle. After a brief walk through town, we boarded a minivan that drove us up the hill to the castle entrance. It is a very steep climb on foot. I know because I believe we made that climb in 2003! The castle offers a great overlook from where you can see the entire town of Cochem and the Moselle River valley below.
The Moselle River and town of Cochem viewed from Reichsburg Castle
Our tour of the castle included a visit to seven of the 50 interior rooms, and ended in a courtyard where we saw a water well that was dug in the 14th century. The guide demonstrated how deep the well was by throwing some water into it. We could watch how long it took the water to reach the bottom. The well is about 180 feet deep, which is an impressive feat considering it had to be dug by hand.
Our guide shows the chronology of major events at the castle
The castle was constructed around the year 1000, and it has been damaged and rebuilt several times over the centuries. However, some of the original structure remains in tact. After our tour of the castle, which lasted about an hour, the minivan took us down the hill to a small street we followed on our walk back into town. Once we arrived at the main square, we could see some tourist activity, but Cochem is not as crowded as some places we have visited.
Main square in Cochem, Germany
We were given about 45 minutes to explore Cochem on our own. On our guide's recommendation, we decided to try the "red peaches" ice cream, a local specialty of this area. We agreed it tasted more like wine than peaches. It is obvious that Cochem is a popular tourist town. Apparently, large groups of motorcyclists visit here because of the twisty, curvy mountain roads nearby. We saw lot of bikes parked around town. After our free time, we boarded the coaches for the 15-minute drive to a wine tasting that Tauck had arranged. Soon, we arrived at a quiet little village where we walked up narrow streets to Schlagkamp Winery. When we entered the winery, large tables were already set up with water (sparkling, yuck!), wine glasses, and plates.
We were greeted by the winery owner, Andrea, an 11th generation winemaker, whose family has owned the winery since 1602. He was very personable and quite funny as he presented several of his white German wines for us to taste. We were also served some dark, delicious, German bread with cheese to complement the wine.
Wine tasting at Schlagkamp
Everyone seemed to have a great time tasting the various wines and, at the end of the tasting, several people purchased wine to take back to the boat, or perhaps to take home. We all headed back to the motorcoaches one last time for the 20-minute drive back to ms Grace. It has been a busy, but interesting day with Tauck.