Cycling & Eating The Mosel – Day 1

After an early start in London and the cramp-inducing charms of short-haul flying, arriving in the medieval town of Cochem on the banks of the Mosel river in Western Germany I needed a drink!  Here for a week of pedal-powered gastronomic research, with my bike ready and my gloves on, what better way could there be to start my morning ride, into one of Europe’s best know wine regions, than a cool glass of the local Riesling.

I was going to enjoy this!

Refreshed and ready for the road I had time for a quick leg-stretching climb up to the town’s medieval castle ‘Reichsburg Cochem’. First built in the 11th century to protect Cochem from warring locals, it perches high above the river and from the stone battlements I took in my first view of the slow moving waters of the Mosel valley and her immaculate vineyards.

Pedalling away from Cochem’s traditional half-timbered houses I headed upstream for a week of cycling, eating and drinking in Germany’s most famous wine growing regions. Since the Romans arrived here in 200bc wine has been produced here on a grand scale and vineyards dominate the landscape.

As well as some of Europe’s finest wines The Mosel valley also boasts some superb cycling. With more than 1250 kilometres of outstanding cycle paths to choose from what better way could there be to eat and drink your way along the river? Well signposted at every turn, the very ease of cycling here meant a few well earned glasses were not going to cause my navigation to many problems.

After a blissful first morning following the slow moving waters of the Mosel , passing through picturesque little towns of half timbered buildings, it was time to start thinking about refuelling.  All cycling and no eating makes Tom a dull boy and parking up in the small villages of Ediger-Eller I went in search of lunch. (p.14)

Invited to Springiersbacher Hof, a vineyard cum-guest house-cum restaurant for lunch I was greeted by Gabriele the owner and immediately given a crisp glass of her Riesling Rofter Schiefer. You are hungry? She enquired and replying positively she set about preparing a local treat. Flammkuchen (cooked in the flames) is a simple workers meal of incredibly thin, crisp bread delicately covered with a layer of seasoned sour cream, some onions and bacon. With two elderly hiking gentleman sitting next to me in leather lederhosen, dry Riesling in my veins, and Flammkuchen in front of me. I felt very welcome in Germany.

Getting back in the saddle is never easy after a good lunch, but with a 40km ride further up the valley to Traben-Trarbach there was no time to be wasted. The Mosel Valley has the oldest culture and wine growing tradition in Germaany and back on the river side the meandering cycle path led me through some of her best well-kept vines, and traditional Mossele wine villages.

Arriving in Traben-Trarbach, the early evening sun casting a calm light over the silver river, I checked into the Superior Romanitk Jugenstil Hotel Bellevue. More than just a place to rest, this stunning hotel boast a superb ‘Belle Epooque ‘ interior. Sitting in the original dining room, I devoured a delightful chilled gherkin and crayfish soup, fresh from the river running under the windows. Followed by a fillet of pike-perch grilled with wild herbs.

Taking a local digestive, a potent type of grappa made from the wine that lurks at the bottom of the barrel, I sat digesting my supper untroubled and contemplating a happy days cycling  until the whiff of grilling Bratfurst and the dulcet tones of an Abba cover band wafted under my radar. Apparently my day hadn’t ended yet…

July in the Mosel sees most towns and villages host wine festivals to honour their hard work. Crossing the river the bright lights of a fun fair reflected on the water and at long tables locals sat enjoying the very best local produce. With each winery selling their wares from small stands dotted along the river bank, what better way could their to toast my first day of cycling Germany’s Mosel valley.