Hike to Burg Eltz - Cologne, Germany
Neither one of us had yet been to Germany and we were very excited to enter the land of pretzels, beer, and sausages. We used Cologne as a home base and spent our time exploring local towns like Bonn and Moselkern. I can't say it enough, the trains over there are so easy and efficient.
I had read about this hike to one of west Germany's most impressive castles, Burg Eltz, and was determined to do it. Research told me we had to take two local trains from Koln to Moselkern and from there hike about an hour and a half.
We knew we'd only have about 8 minutes at the transfer station to change trains. The ticket told us which track we needed, so we knew where to run to. For the most part the trains run on their exact schedule, but we ran into a little delay and arrived with about 3 minutes to transfer. Challenge accepted. The second those doors opened we booked it, giggling like kids the whole sprint. With maybe 15 seconds to spare, the doors closed on our next train and a silent car of Germans looked up at us two crazies.
Most tourists visit Burg Eltz during the late spring and summer, so we were 2 of maybe 5 people who departed at Moselkern.
The town is charming! Every person we passed smiled and said "allo!"
We hadn't even made it to the real castle and were already checking out some impressive homes.
I had printed off a little map to guide us, but didn't need it thanks to the well marked signs. Eventually the road leaves the town and the real hiking begins.
The trail is well-traveled and easy to follow with markings.
Eventually the woods cleared and through the trees we caught a glimpse of our destination.
We crossed a creek and took some steep stairs up to the base to look back on the woods we had just hiked through.
And had a quick dance party to celebrate our success.
Because the castle is hidden in a little nook of Eltz Forest, it was saved from bombing in WWII. 33 generations of the same family have called this place home since before 1157, and tourists can wander the grounds during the warmer months.
Being pros at the German train system now, our journey back to Cologne was a breeze. It's fun to get out of your comfort zone when traveling and to get a little active.
We both agreed this was our favorite adventure of the entire trip, and Cologne was a great home base. It's definitely worth a stop if you're ever near the Rhine.
This is the stunning Cologne Cathedral, and is actually Germany's most visited landmark.
During WWII allied bombs destroyed about 60% of Cologne. The below photo was taken in 1945 and shows the devastation.
The Cathedral took 14 hits but remained standing. The devout credit this to faith, and others credit the master craftsmanship. Regardless, I sure am glad this stunning place has held up since 1473.
We discovered Kolsch beer, native to Cologne, and learned the proper etiquette for drinking one. Or 3. They're served in little "stange" glasses and waiters come around carrying them in wreaths. (Most patrons just order an entire wreath and share with friends.) You toast your drinking buddy by clinking the base of the glass, where it's thicker. Waiters will continue to replace your glass until you place your coaster on top of your glass, signaling you're done.
Germans are so friendly and they definitely know what they're doing by eating streusel and schnitzel all day. I'd love to go back and explore more castles - maybe in Bavaria. Road trip, anyone?
Thanks for following us around Europe! I've got some fun domestic and international trips planned this summer. Stick around for the fun!