Our next stop was the town of Cochem. This town has never had a mining industry, so no silver. It has always a poor town, but a clean town, according to our guide. Its economy is currently based on wine and tourism. I guess our group fits their business plan. We saw the oldest building in the area, which has never been burned and now operates as a hotel. By law the buildings have black slate roofs, although recently, synthetic black slate roofs have been installed.
We ducked through tiny, narrow FuchLock onto Coffee Shop Street where there were in fact many coffee shops. We saw a fountain commemorating the trial of a goat who had been accused of eating grapes from one of the local vineyards. The test was to be pressed in a wine press. If white wine came out he was guilty, but only blood came out so he was judged innocent although it was too late for the goat. In New England we’ve had witchcraft trials like that. If you drowned, you were innocent.
[Click on a picture to see it full-sized.]
We had our first rain this morning, but we were prepared with lots of umbrellas and hoods.
Rain and water are no trivial matters around here. Until very recently major floods were almost routine. It was hard to imagine how that river way down there could flood so high up in the town here. On the wall are high water marks over the years. The highest was in 1993, two days before Christmas. 😦
These days the vintners want to make ice wine because of the premium price it commands. Ice wine is made from crushing frozen grapes, so temperatures of -7°C (19°F) are needed. Temperatures that low are becoming less and less common. I guess we know why.
We then visited the town castle via a twisty narrow drive and a steep walk up through a series of gates. It was a wonderful castle which had been burned down in 1689 by
Louis XIV who wanted to convert all the castles in the area to the French style. Almost 200 years later, in 1868, it was rebuilt by Louis Ravené. He built it to look like the original on the outside but was modernized on the inside. Unfortunately he died only a year after it was completed, but his family continued to use it as a summer residence. Teresa’s characterization of it is “regal but warm”.
In the 1940s it was sold under duress to the Nazis by means of excessive taxation andlater was acquired by the national government. Much to the delight of the residents, the town of Cochem was able to buy it as their own for €332,000. A real bargain. The rooms were furnished in different styles: Renaissance, Romanesque, and Gothic with with interesting features everywhere, including secret doors and doors that lead nowhere for the sake of symmetry.
There was a well in one of the courtyards. On the inside of the well had Ravené placed the following quotation, “Be any drink blessed, water for you, wine for me.”
Instead of taking the bus back to the boat we chose to walk down the hill and through the town which turned out to be a very fine choice because we got another look at the shops along the way.
For dinner tonight, we were seated with our guide, Rebecca, and Cath and Chris Allen. Chris is responsible for the security of the Information Technoloy (IT) systems at Sempra Energy, and when I asked Rebecca what she did before leading tours, she said she hosted government figures around the country. Seems like a logical precursor to her present job. But it also turned out that she had worked in cyber security for the government and had a lot in common with Jeff. It was fascinating to listen to them talk about the state of cyber security in general. It’s a very difficult problem. We didn’t learn any national security secrets so it was not necessary to shoot us.
It was Doug’s 70th birthday today so Doug and Retha were seated at the head table and honored with a birthday cake topped by a sparkler.
We were also treated to Tom’s demonstration of juggling while eating an apple. He actually did it.
After dinner we wandered through town in the dark looking for the “Peanuts Bar” and eventually found it, although the only connection with peanuts is that the peanut shells were on the floor after we finished the peanuts. The German beers were excellent and so was the pole dancing demonstration by Doug and Pat. You had to see it to believe it.
Teresa and I left before the party is over and so I have no idea how long it went on. However, I do know we didn’t see Tom and Julie the next morning for breakfast.