|Home Biography People Places Multimedia: Making It Work On the Water Writings/Presentations|
The Mosel Valley, 2017
Top of Marcia's Bucket List:
Germany, Luxembourg, France, Belgium, Netherlands
For halb-trocken Riesling
After United Airlines dragged a screaming passenger up the aisle and off the plane, Marcia refused to fly with that outfit. Went to Europe by Lufthansa instead. About eight hours overnight from Dulles to Frankfurt. Rented a car. Sat in the car in the parking garage, tired, trying to figure out how to start and lock/unlock it. That Ford Kuga had no key and all sorts of gadgets. Filled it up twice: total fuel cost for the trip was about €100.
Drove to Hofheim am Taunus near the airport to buy a throw-away phone for emergencies. Had no Euros but plenty of green dollars and credit cards. The banks in town would not exchange dollars, clarifying that the only cash they had on hand was in the auto-dispensing machines. Had been told by Capital One that no PIN was required in Germany because of the chip. That advice was OK for transactions, wrong for cash withdrawals. Went to the car, booted up my laptop and found one of my cards with the correct PIN and was able withdraw cash in Euros and finally pay for lunch at Cafe Venezia. While I had wandered through town in the rain for about an hour, looking for a bank autoteller, Marcia ordered more coffee and cake and offered to wash dishes; she had unexpectedly arrived in food heaven). We invited the friendly and patient (about the money) cafe owner, Michaela Dal Mas, to visit us in Washington. Barely awake, we drove on to Rüdesheim.
At a fine hotel in Rüdesheim, Zum Bären, we caught some afternoon sleep before meeting up with Tay's first wife, Dagmar Mendelsohn. At the Bears, "Garni" means a hotel without a formal restaurant, just serving a breakfast for guests. For dinner, we walked a block down the cobblestone street to the Central Hotel.
Lorelei - Sankt Goar, Germany
Already the Rhine River vinyards were stretching far as the eye could see. In the morning, off to the Lorelei, where unlucky sailors wrecked their ships in this narrowest part of the Rhine, drawn to their deaths by maidens singing from the tall cliffs. Lunch at Bernies-Blues-Bar and hotel overlooking the tight bend. Photo op for Marcia with the owner - retired rockband drummer, Bernie Schiffmann, himself.
Crossed the Rhine to Engelsburg at Kaub and then on to downtown Sankt Goar and the Golden Lion, a downtown hotel with a room overlooking the river and the Lorelei. Plenty of tourists from day-trip sightseeing boats and larger European river cruise ships wandered about on the narrow cobblestone streets. We wandered about, too, and bought cheese and salami for a picnic next day.
This is the town where the cash machine ate my credit card. Directly across from the hotel was a modern bank. At the cash machine I messed up the PIN, so the card was spit back out so I could try again. While fumbling for the correct PIN number somewhere in my papers, I must have taken too long because the machine suddenly went "suck," and my card was drawn in and was gone forever. Next customer: insert your card! According to bank officials, it would be mailed back to VISA in the USA; no chance they could retrieve it on site. Sorry.
Where the Mosel empties into the Rhine. The Deutsches Eck - a major tourist destination and large city with a huge statue of Ludwig the Great on horseback. Toilet use costs a redeemable 30¢. We actually stayed outside of the city at Forsthaus-Remstecken, a small hotel located in the middle of a state forest to the west. Marcia fed corn to animals and smiled a lot.
The Klasen Hotel, a bit south of Cochem, provided the best view of all places where we overnighted during the trip. The river meandering past castles on hills; Marcia leaning on the balcony rail. The castle tour of Burg Eltz was a pre-planned requirement; we routed up and over the hills for an excursion into lovely farming country before returning down the steep bending cliff-face roads to the gorge of the Mosel.
At the Locks
Ürzig Street Festival Band
Ürzig Street Festival Band
Marcia at Ürzig
Dr. Loosen Wine Lecture
Along the way from Bernkastel to Trier, in Piesport, we befriended a wine grower (Herr Kettern) who was having most of his vinyard harvested by machine. He graciously took time from the busy harvest to answer Marcia's questions in English. Said it was cheaper than hiring Polish or Romanian pickers at the current minimum wage of €8.50 per hour - about a third as much. He couldn't do all of his rows of vines by machine, he pointed out, because his house and some trees were in the way and the machine couldn't turn around -- he would pick those rows himself by hand. He picked a single bunch of grapes for Marcia to examine for Botrytis fungus, common in this year's harvest due to wet and cloudy weather throughout the Mosel region. When finished, she was cautioned not to throw her handful of grapes into the ditch, but to toss the grapes into the green wagon with the rest of the harvest! A screw drive unloads the wagon through a five-inch hose.
In the Botrytis infection known as "noble rot" (pourriture noble in French, or Edelfäule in German), the fungus removes water from the grapes, leaving behind a higher percent of solids, such as sugars, fruit acids and minerals. This results in a more intense, concentrated final product. The wine is often said to have an aroma of honeysuckle and a bitter finish on the palate. Botrytis complicates winemaking by making fermentation more complex. Botrytis produces an anti-fungal that kills yeast and often results in fermentation stopping before the wine has accumulated sufficient levels of alcohol. Makers of fine German dessert wines have been known to take fermenting tubs of wine into their homes to nurture the yeast through the night to assure that the alcohol level reaches legal minimums for the product to be called wine. [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Botrytis_cinerea]
Splurged that night. Tay was hungry for his favorites: goulaschsuppe and schweineschnitsel. Ate both in a big meal then topped it all off with Marcia's favorites: vanilla ice cream and a cherry cheescake dream! A glass of good halbtrocken Riesling wine typically cost around €3.00 a glass.
Jan and Hubert van Eyck’s famous Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, better known as the Ghent Altarpiece of 1432, ranks among the most significant works of art in Europe. Housed at Saint Bavo Cathedral in Ghent, Belgium, the large and complex altarpiece suffered a varied history over the centuries. Dismantled, stolen, and damaged many times over, it was reassembled, cleaned, and restored after World War II. Despite this harrowing past, today scholars and art lovers around the world are only a click away from freely exploring over 100 billion pixels of the altarpiece online, thanks to a series of grants provided by the Getty Foundation as part of the Panel Paintings Initiative. [http://www.getty.edu/foundation/initiatives/current/panelpaintings/panel_paintings_ghent.html]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jef_Van_der_Veken - about the forger for Panel 12
Bells ringing at the church, Au Nom De Dieu.