Monday, 17/07/2023: Cochem Castle

Another day in the trip, another castle to visit! Ah, what a hard life!

I’m obviously joking, as I love castles.

This time it was way easier to reach it, and there were no 5 km hikes, as when we went to Burg Eltz!

As we were already in Cochem, we did not need to take any train anywhere: we just needed to walk up to the castle and get in.

From the Marktplatz you turn towards the aptly named Schlossstraße (Castle street) and up, up, up you go!

Blue sky, sun, Cochem castle, vineyards
Blue sky, sun, Cochem castle, vineyards

The road goes up and bending slightly to the left and past vineyards; some of them close enough that you can see the grapes up close. Exciting!

A bunch of grapes on the way up to the Cochem castel
A bunch of grapes on the way up to the Cochem castel

Some of the vineyards have signs with QR codes on the gates—that’s how we realised they were the makers of the first Riesling we drank when we arrived in Cochem. Of course, maybe the grapes for that particular wine were grown elsewhere, but it was cool to see they have fields here anyway! And what location! Like the celebrities of wine terraces 😂

Views of the vineyards on the slopes of Cochem castle, from the castle
Views of the vineyards on the slopes of Cochem castle, from the castle

Back to the castle itself, this time we weren’t that lucky with the timing.

The first English tour would start about an hour and a half after we had bought the tickets, so we spent some time looking at the souvenirs shop (if you want to send postcards, they also sell stamps here), before quietly waiting on a slightly secluded shaded area while groups and groups from schooltrips walked into the castle.

It was a bit annoying in the sense that the castle website lists their timings but then there’s a big notice saying the availability of the English guided tours are “subject to change without notice”, so we preferred to be there just in case the tour was brought forward.

At the end it was run at the official time, but we preferred to be safer and potentially have to wait, than not being able to visit the castle at all!

Starting the tour at Cochem castle
Starting the tour at Cochem castle

The guide was a very fun character: at some point she was talking about some person or place name in German, then something switched in her brain and she continued speaking in German while we all observed and got increasingly confused… This went for a few more sentences until someone told her she was speaking in German!

We had a good laugh—starting with herself!

The castle is quite different from Burg Eltz in the sense that it was mostly used not as a daily residence but as a holiday home in more recent times, before it was confiscated by the nazis, and then went into decline until it became property of the town of Cochem, and was restored before opening to the public.

So many of the rooms have been sort of restored to what they think would have been or looked like, or by using old photos (when available), but aren’t necessarily full of “historical” artefacts that had been present in the castle for centuries.

I found most interesting to hear about the actual practicalities of life in the castle: how did they get light in? (with windows). How would they do needle work or any other craft that requires light? (Sitting by the window). What was not necessarily ideal in winter? Draughts (from windows). So windows were a really important consideration in the design of the room.

Closely related, how to heat a room and keep it warm, and how to do so without having the servants in the room (the horror!). They came up with designs for heaters that were fed fuel on the other side of the room, so the servants become invisible.

Plus: unlike Burg Eltz, this castle had secret exits, so they could leave even if under siege. We were pointed towards the spiral staircase that goes to the exit, but if I remember correctly it had been damaged and it is not functional anymore, although it used to have an exit somewhere between the vineyards we saw when walking to the castle.

Overall, it was a very interesting visit, although again there were lots of bored kids, and I sometimes felt like I wanted to scream onto someone’s face! Aaaah!

In fact, several families we saw there we had seen the previous day as well—it is a small world, but it seemed even smaller then!


Banquet hall at Cochem castle
Banquet hall at Cochem castle

After the visit, we strategically dashed to the castle restaurant before anyone else did and got ourselves a table with views. We had learned our lesson in castle visiting! Success!

I went for a celebratory rosé made with Spätburgunder i.e. Pinot Noir! I had had wine made with Pinot Noir in the past, but I do not recall having had Spätburgunder. Another first!

It was not the most intense of rosés (that award goes to a Syrah rosé from Viña Aljibes in Albacete I still remember), but it was fruity and mellow and well balanced, and being feinherb made it even more dangerously drinkable as it had a nice touch of sweetness. Not so much that it tasted like syrup, but enough that it provided a beautiful contrast to the acidity, and made you want to drink more!

A glass of rosé: Cochemer Schloßberg Spätburgunder feinherb
A glass of rosé: Cochemer Schloßberg Spätburgunder feinherb

The wine list—and my finger pointing to what I had! That’s how you remember 😂

Wine list at the Cochem castle restaurant
Wine list at the Cochem castle restaurant

I had determined that we should have currywurst mit pommes together while in Germany, but we realised that it was more of a Berlin thing, and so in order to get as close as possible to the goal and be able to tick it off the list without feeling like cheating, we went for these sausages with potato salad.

Sausages and salad potato at Cochem castle restaurant
Sausages and salad potato at Cochem castle restaurant

We enjoyed our snacky lunch with views!

Reichsburg Cochem

And then we slowly made our way downhill and towards the Marktplatz. Although we went through a slightly different route, as while we were having lunch I had spotted some people walking between vineyards and stopping at some sort of panoramic sightseeing view from our table, and I wanted to see the whole thing by myself. So: a detour took place, and Devvers patiently consented to it 🐈

We hadn’t had a decent espresso based coffee in a few days, and we had seen a decent-looking coffee shop in the Marktplatz previously, so we thought we should try it out in this day we were spending in Cochem.

Funny trü story: we realised one of the baristas at the coffee shop was the same person we saw working on the bar in the Irish pub the previous day. Talk about a small place!

We had flat whites and apple and cinnamon rolls, and thus also ticked off another item from our list: ✅ Kaffee und Kuchen.

Cochemer Kaffeerösterei
Markt 6
56812 Cochem

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