Sunday, December 9, 2012

Trier to Bernkastle-Kues & Traben-Trarbach

We awoke to a light snow again this morning.  Everything was covered with an inch of snow.  After a lovely breakfast we walked back to the ‘old town’ Christmas market area so we could take daytime photos.  They were just beginning to clean the snow from their stands, restock them and then open them to customers.  We stepped into the Dom – although it was nice, the stained glass windows were fairly modern.
After cleaning the snow from the car we were down the road to Bernkastle-Kues.  The road follows the Mosel River valley which we have always seen in the summer when leaves and grapes are on the vines.  There are miles and miles, acres and acres of vineyards.  There are grape stalks planted right down to the road, and basically wherever there is fertile ground for them to grow. If a rock is jutting out, they just plant around the rock, if it is too steep they simply terrace the area and plant grape stalks. The white snow and the rows of dark grape vines were up one or both sides of the valley.  This valley always amazes us. 
Vineyards along the Mosel River

Panorama of Vineyard along the Mosel
We drove through some very small villages, and instead of staying on the numbered highway, we went down Main Street.  Two of these small villages were having their own small Christmas market.  We stopped.  Of course we stood out as the strangers in town! But the feeling in these towns was special.  Nothing was commercialized.  You knew the mittens and hats were definitely hand made by the ladies in the villages, as is the same with the crafts – jewelry, Christmas greens arrangements, etc  We bought some goulash soup from a lady which you knew she had made herself.  At the one there was an open fire and people were standing around it to fight off the cold.  We bought some hot chocolate and stood by the fire. It was very cold, snowy and windy.  Later in the morning it stopped snowing, but then there was a mist.  Today it was simply dark and dreary for photos, but we kept snapping!! 
Warming by the fire at Small Town Christmas Market

We finally made it to Bernkastle-Kues, checked into the hotel and began walking around the village.  We had a lovely time, and we stopped to listen to the musical groups that were playing outside in the market plazas.  We find it very interesting that most of the Christmas music that is played over the loud speaker in a town or along the street is performed by American Christmas artist.  This morning in the smallest village we listened to Bing Cosby singing, yesterday it was Frank Sinatra!  It is interesting when all the speech around you is German and you here these American Christmas songs! 
Castle Ruins overlooking Bernkastel

Bernkastel Central Market

Local Musicians

Bernkastel at Night

Not all the shops are open on Sunday, but some were.  We’d go inside to warm up as it was so damp outside.  After about 2 hours we returned to the hotel and ordered a cup of cappuccino and a cup of tea.  As we drank we chatted with the hotel staff.  They could not believe we were in Germany to just visit Christmas markets when it is so cold.  But she told us we may enjoy an indoor market held in the wine cellars in a village 20 km down the river.  It was about 3:30 so we decided to make the drive and check this out!  WOW!  This was a ‘not to be missed’ experience.  First we did have to find them, as normally you look in the central plazas for the Christmas markets, whereas these markets all underground.  We finally saw some signage – of course in German – but we know what the ‘Weihnachtsmarkt’ means.  The first market had its entrance through a long well-lite tunnel.  At the end of the tunnel you came into this large underground cellar where there was no wine, but a well-organized Christmas market with lots of lovely items.  After touring the larger cellar there was a smaller one too.  Of course it was great being out of the weather!  When we left this cellar/market, we followed signage for another one, again in another cellar.  The third one was a museum of tools and equipment to work with the plants and then the grapes.  This was the underground world of the town of Traben-Trarbach! It was fun evening – so glad we were told about it.
Entrance to the Wine Cellar/Christmas Market
Christmas Market in Wine Cellar
Rachel with Father Christmas


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