Tag Archives: germany

River Cruise – Beer tasting in Bamberg


Today we visited Bamberg, a lovely little city on the Main river.


Bamberg – Streets


Today was the day of beer and sausages, a visit to the Kolsterbau, one of the oldest (set up in 1533) brew houses in Bamberg. The speciality of the Bamberg master brewers is the so called “smoked beer” aka Rauchbier, which is made by inclusion of malt that is dried and partly caramelised over the open flame in the brewing process. This very dark beer is best consumed when served with a white sausage and sauerkraut.

In all the lovely people at the brewery have given us 3 beers to taste:

In all, it was a very interesting afternoon. I am not a beer drinker so the finer subtleties of German beers are lost on me.


Klosterbrau Weizen


Klosterbrau Rauchbier


River Cruise – Heidelberg and Aschaffenburg


Heidelberg is located on the Neckar river, which is a major tributary of the Rhine. It is generally agreed that there has been a Roman fort and a relaed settlement in this area as far back as 40AD. The modern city was founded  1169. In 1386, Heidelberg University was founded by Rupert I, Elector Palatine. Over time the Palatine electors have made it their seat of power, and built this castle…



Heidelburg Castle


Which towers and looms over the city. The castle and most of the city were destroyed by French in 1693, during wars of the War of the Grand Alliance. Some of the buildings in town, such as the Ritter House, and since 1700’s Hotel zum Ritter have somehow escaped the destruction of the ward and the great renewal of early 1800’s, and stand to this day as examples of  the former architecture:



Hotel zum Ritter


Aschaffenburg is a city on the Main river. Aschaffenburg belonged to the Archbishopric of Mainz for more than 800 years.  it is here, in lower Franconia where between 1605 and 1614 by Archbishop Schweikard von Kronbergbuilt himself a “hunting lodge”.

This is his hunting lodge:



Johannisburg in Aschaffenburg


The River Cruise – Moselle Valley – Moselle wine tasting

About Traben-Trarbach

Axel Emert

Herr Axel Emert – “Less thinking, more drinking”

After lunch the river took us past some small towns, villages nestled amongst very steep vine covered hills.  After passing some locks,  we finally arrived in the twin city of of Traben-Trarbach. Traben is on one side of the river and Trarbach on the other.

Traben-Trarbach is a wine and boat racing city. Although in existence for a long time, the real growth of the villages was stimulated only in mid 19th century, after the city fire in Trarbach in 1857 caused wine merchants and winemakers to make their way to Traben, across the river.  These men banded together and started large wholesale businesses that became important to the modern state of  Moselle valley wine making and Moselle valley wine trade.



Moselle Wines

As luck would have it the tour manager has arranged for us to meet with Herr Axel Emert, 8th generation local grape grower and wine maker, and also the  and manager and front face of Weingut Axel Emert (formerly Weingut Carl Emert).

Axel is passionate about grapes, and wine. As he himself admits, he likes to grow grapes and drink wine.

Most of the vines in the Moselle valley are tended to by hand. This is because most grapes are gown on steep slopes of 65 to 80+ degrees incline. To make things more interesting for those working there, base of each vine is lined with local slate, which provides extra warmth, slows down erosion and conserves soil moisture.  However this is a very fertile region, and Axel admitted to having some 40 or 50 thousand vines on 8 hectares (16 acres or so), and producing some 40,000 bottles of wine per year.

I think Axel would feel right at home with the Australian wine growers and wine makers. In blunt and direct way he rejected the idea that somehow the wine with a cork in the bottle and aged in wood is somehow better, and that it is a bad idea and bad practice to use stainless steel to ferment and age the wine, or a twist top cap to seal it.  As he not so kindly put it “I grow grapes. I have never tasted a grape that has wood flavour. If you want wood flavour, go chew on a stick”.

To illustrate his point, Axel presented us with three Riesling grape white wines to try: a 2011 dry white, 2011 semi-sweet and 2011 sweet.  The only difference between these three wines, Axel claimed,  was the point where the fermentation was stopped.

As far as wine selection Axel’s philosophy is simple – drink what you like – “Less thinking, more drinking”

A glass of riesling

A glass of Reisling


The River Cruise – Moselle – Trier

Morning – Transit

The morning is the transfer to the river cruise ship. She is waiting for us in Trier. So the group was taken by but about 4oo-ish or so KM east from Paris to Trier (Treves). The route took us through the Champangne region countryside, skirting around Riems, Verdun, Metz and finally heading off towards Luxembourg and finally Trier. The countryside was very pretty and very hazy – much mist, dust and haze in the air..

Afternoon – Trier

Ponte Nigra in Trier

Ponte Nigra

Trier or Treves as it is known to the French is a very old city. Located on the Moselle river, it was founded by the Romans as far back as 30BC after

they have subdued the Traveri peoples. It is the oldest bishopric north of the Alps. The Franks seized Trier from Roman administration in 459 AD. In 870, it became part of Eastern Francia, which developed into the Holy Roman Empire. The bishops of Trier were soon recognised as imperial electors and as such the Elector-Prince-Bishops ruled (despite several invasions during the  various wars) until 1794 when the French revolutionary armies finally took the city.

The city boats many monuments, including the Ponte Nigra – the black gate – that dates back to the Roman times. The gate is built out of limestone, but as is the case with many monuments, the dust, rain, soot and the like have darkened it over time.

Evening – Board the cruise ship

A little data about the river cruise ship we are on:  The River Princess is a 110 meter long, 11.40 meter wide luxury river cruise ship. She is Swiss registered with home port of Rheinfelden, and She carriers 132 passengers and about 40 (mostly hotel crew) crew. The River Princess draws about 1.5 meters of water, and is propelled by twin mechanically driven and  hydraulically steered variable azimuth pods in the rear and a twin side jet/thruster in the front of the ship. She was purpose built for Uniworld in 2001 in the Netherlands, and has undergone a major overhaul and refit in 2010.

The crew on the ship is of mixed nationalities. We have a Dutch captain (Remco), the first officer is Polish (Bartosz) and the officer in training is Romanian. The rest of the ‘sailors’ and the engineering/mechanical crew are German, Serbian and Romanian. Bart, the cruise manager (aka Bart the people wrangler) is also Dutch. The front desk and the hotel crew has Spanish, Swiss, Slovak, Bulgarian, Romanian, Hungarian, Polish, Serbian and German members.