Gadget by The Blog Doctor.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Europe 08 Bernkastel and Zell

During the night we left Trier and cruised the Moselle River. As our cabin was at the back of the ship we could hear the engines, but as they kept a constant pitch we could "tune them out". We slept well on our first night on the boat.

At 6:00 am I went for a workout in the Gym, which happens to be next to our room. I felt much better after that.

After a typically too large breakfast we watched the crew mooring the ship at Bernkastel. The town is nestled in a bend in a spectacularly beautiful bend in the river.

We met our local guide near the boat. This was very well organised. The ship had a very effective audio system that we used. Passengers took a radio receiver (we had already been given our personal ear buds) and the guide had a microphone and transmitter. We could hear the guide more that 30 metres away. This was convenient as I sometimes moved away from the group to take a photograph. There were four local guides so the groups were fairly small.

Across the river towering above the town on a hill is the "Burgruine Landshut" (ruin of the Castle of Landshut), built in 1277. The guide told us that due to an accidental fire the building burnt down on January 8, 1692.

We crossed the bridge and inspected the late 14th century Church of St Michael. Its tower had been incorportate into the city wall and it looked more like a fortification than a church tower. We walked the narrow streets, to the market square, which was surrounded by many well preserved half-timered houses, including the city hall that was built in 1608. Most of the houses dated from the 17th Century. At the centre of the square stood the fountain of St Michael.

The photograph at right shows the fountain and the city hall

The guide told us of the history of the town. It became a municipality in 1291. There was probably a Roman settlement there in earlier times. Over the river stands the town of Kues. In 1905 Kues and Bernkastel were joined together as Bernkasgel-Kues. Kues is the birth place of Nicholas of Kues who is often referred to as Nicholas of Cusa (Cusa being the latinised version of Kues). Nicholas was born in 1401 and died in 1464. He was a noted theologian and for some of his time an emissary of the Pope. He also developed some progressive scientific ideas, anticipating Kepler's model of eliptical orbits of the planets. His scientific views were not developed in the usual way of observation of the natural world but from his personal numerological calculations and from his metaphysical musings. Nicholas also made noted contributions to the field of mathematics. Nicholas set up a building (St Nikolaus Hospital) to be used to house old people, which is still being used for that purpose. It contains a famous library with a collection of ancient books and the heart of the philosopher is buried in its chapel. When we returned to the other side of the river we attempted to visit the "hospital" but it was closed.
After we boarded the Amadagio, we cruised on down the Moselle. Lunch was served. A full lunch in the restaurant and a "light" lunch in the lounge. We ate in the lounge - soup, pasta, salads, cold meat and deserts.

Every available metre of the north bank of the river was covered with vines. These were in rows running up and down the hill, to make sure that the plants received as much sun as possible. The main agricultural produce of this area is white wine.

We were reminded of this fact when we arrived at our next town, Zell, late in the afternoon. We were greeted by the Mayor of the town and the Queen of Wine a young woman who spoke excellent English. Some local children performed a dance, dressed as black cats, in reference to a local wine. After another sumptuous dinner we went into town to sample the local product.

There was a brass band concert in the square near the Black Cat fountain and we had tickets for free wine. Margaret particularly liked the very sweet, Black Cat moselle, as you can see from the photo below. The band master had spent some time in New Zealand so he spoke excellent English. The band played a range of songs including favourites from the nationalities represented in his audience. Waltzing Matilda featured as the Australian contribution.

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