Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Our Mosel & Rhine Vacation: Burg Eltz

We have just returned home from our vacation exploring the Mosel and Rhine river valleys in Germany and already I'm thinking about our next trip back to this beautiful region. We had four days of relaxation complete with hiking, wine tasting of local Riesling (my favorite type of wine), drives through the country with spectacular views, and of course castles. Oh the castles! It's like a fairy-tale. 

Our journey began at Burg Eltz. I've become a huge Rick Steve's fan since moving to the Netherlands. His travel guide books have successfully guided us through Brugges and other places, so I did some research on his website before our trip.  He says that Burg Eltz is his favorite castle in all of Europe. I consider that a huge statement coming from Rick. 

Jaap knows that I'm obsessed with castles. My obsession stems from that fact that we don't have castles in the U.S. You're lucky if you find a building that's 300 years old, so the fact that these fairy-tale, medieval structures exists really fascinates me. 
Excited to hike!
Burg Eltz is pretty isolated in the middle of a forest, which adds to that enchanted feel. I read the best way to reach the castle is by hiking there. We chose a 30 minute hike from a car park about 2,5 km from the castle. Complete with new hiking boots and coat...we were off!

The hike was stunning. It was one of my favorite parts of the whole trip. Beautiful fall foilage, tall pine trees, and crisp fall weather. It was a completely serene walk with only the noise of the nearby creek. We could not have asked for anything better.
30 minutes later and we're at Burg Eltz. I was anticipating the view from the trail and voilĂ ! Scaffolding! We had to laugh. It's like when I saw the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin completely covered in construction and scaffolding. Oh well. But even with the construction, it's a nice view. 
The only way to see the interior of the castle is with a tour. We waited a few minutes for an English tour to take us through. The castle is still privately owned and has been in the Eltz family for over 33 generations. (That's over 800 years). Talk about family tradition. It's pretty impressive. Most of the furniture and interior decorations are the same as they were 500 years ago. The portion of the castle that we got to see was very well furnished and authentic. There was even a Lucas Cranach painting in one of the living rooms. 
Visiting the treasury
Thank you to the Eltz Family for maintaining your heritage for the rest of the world to see and admire. It's amazing how one family can make such wise and diplomatic decisions for an incredibly long period of time. 

Our visit to Burg Eltz was the perfect way to begin our German holiday. Auf wiedersehen!
Enjoying the walk back to the car

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