Mittwoch--overcast and cool, probably 4C or so
. After breakfast and internet time, we left at 0930 to meet a distant cousin at the White Mill, about 30 minutes away. Juergen, who I had met once before, had gotten in contact with my sister Carole when they were doing research on their respective family lines. I do not remember the generations, but Juergen has to be our 9th or 10th cousin. Anyway he met Ruth and then took us on a great tour of the area, including the village where our branch of the family came from. This area is distinguished by the Maars, or volcanic craters, some formed as recently as 10,000 years ago. After a lunch in the town where Juergen works, we met his wife, Gabi, and then started a hike from a church down a valley to the Mill where we had started in the morning. After chatting in the Mill restaurant over drinks, we drove them back to their car and said goodbye. Back in Beilstein, we ate at the Hotel Haus Lipmann, across the "square" from our hotel. Once again, the meal was very tasty, and we did not have far to go afterwards. We did check on the swan, though. When we walked a bit the night before, we found a swan on her nest, next to the road in the narrow strip of grass that is next to the river. She is very attentive to motion near her, but does not seem to mind the small ferry boat that crosses the river nearby.
Donnerstag und Vatertag--today is Fathers' Day in Germany and as best we have pieced together it's the day when men go out drinking together
. To get around this we drove to a hotel parking lot and walked for 45 minutes (uphill!) to Burg Eltz, one of the few castles in Europe perhaps that is essentially in its original condition. The Eltz family managed to keep the castle from ever being seriously damaged by a combination of diplomacy, marriage, and luck. It is interesting to see rooms that are essentially the way they were built and decorated from 1500 and 1600. Afterward we walked back to the car (uphill!) and drove to Cochem, the largest town in the area. We rode the Sesselbahn, or chairlift (uphill!) to a viewpoint and then rode back down before trying to walk through narrow streets filled with partying people. It seemed liked we entered a new world when we made it back to Beilstein, crossing on the small ferry boat and checking on the swan. We ate in the Cloister Restaurant and had a great meal. Beilstein was once a powerhouse on the river and there is a large church above most of the town. The last monk retired several years ago, but the cloister is now a restaurant and a small hotel of sorts.
Freitag--after breakfast we drove to Trier and the worst traffic we have seen so far. We assumed it was because of the long holiday weekend. It did not help that we got into a line for a parking lot which was full--we had to wait for a car to come out before the bar woulod pop up. Once we got walking, it was time to meet the Romans. I still have trouble believing that a society from 1700 years ago could build such big projects
. What we are seeing of course is what is left after some wear and tear, a few wars, people using blocks for other building projects, and so on. Constantine must have had an enormous ego, if the cathedral he had built here was any indication, not to mention the unfinished bath project. Our minds dazzled we zipped back to our quiet village, for another tasty meal at a riverside restaurant. Still too chilly to sit outside, but we could look out the window. We checked on the swan before going to bed.
Samstag--we checked out of the hotel, after saying "thank you" to Susan in Irish (she was kind enough to say that she understood.) After putting our bags in the car, we walked up to the ruined castle above Beilstein, then continued on the Jewish cemetery. The town had a substantial Jewish population, but most of thjem left in the late 1800s. Somehow the cemetery survived the Nazi years and is now maintained by the Jewish community in Koblenz. We hiked a bit more before getting back to the car and then driving to the east, and another river.
It is hard to believe someone could slow down from the pace in Goslar, but it is possible. After a drive of about 5 hours, with a break to look at a Stave Church in a village not far from Goslar, we arrived in Beilstein, our home for three days. Since it was raining off and on, we decided to eat in the hotel's restaurant and enjoyed a great meal, including a dessert of vanilla ice cream, hot raspberries and whipped cream--I have only three things to say about this combination. The room was good (we have developed a quick sense of what is going to work well in a room--reading lights, enough space to unpack, hooks on the wall, a convenient outlet fro the netbook, etc.) The only downside was that we couldn't get a good wireless connection in the room, but downstairs was fine. For the next three mornings, after breakfast, we would get our essential messages and information from the internet and then we were off and walking.