Mosel and Saar River Route

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This tour along the Mosel and Saar combines the best of the German ‘Bundesländer’ Rheinland Pfalz and Saarland. While cycling from Alken to Merzig, you will go back in time as you visit the Roman villas and public baths along the two rivers, the Saar and the Mosel. In Trier you can visit the Porta Nigra. This ancient gateway is one of the best-known monuments from the Roman era. On day six we take a trip to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg in the village of Wasserbillig. As you cycle through one of Germany’s major wine-growing areas, it is possible to taste a lot of different wines and see where they grow and how they are made. You can get acquainted with the excellent but uncomplicated wines from the Saar and the so-called ‘Spitzenweinen’ along the Mosel like the ‘Zeller Schwarze Katz’. The main ingredient for those wines is the Riesling, a white grape variety that dates back to the 15th century and is crowned the ‘Queen of grapes’.

Daily Itinerary

Sunday: Cochem – warmup ride

You are asked to be on board the ship no later than 3 pm. Cochem is a charming town famous for its wines and dominated by the old Reichsburg. After meeting your cycling companions, guide, captain and crew and storing your luggage in your cabin, you may relax on board with a coffee or tea. Dinner on the boat will be followed by a preview of the cycling itinerary for the upcoming week.

Monday: Cochem – Zell – 27 miles (44 km)

Through five remarkable bends you’ll meander along with the river to the famous vinyards of Calmont. The steepest slopes have a gradient of 65%, which makes it quite difficult for the farmers to tend their vineyards. The lunch stop will be at the beautiful village of Beilstein, décor of many movies. Endpoint of today is the city of the black cat, Zell. The story goes that when a few wine merchants from Aachen had to choose which wine barrel they should buy a black cat jumped upon one of the barrels to defend it. Of course this made it clear for them which barrel they should buy.

Tuesday: Zell – Bernkastel Keus – 25 miles (40 km)

As if it had imbibed a drink or two, the Mosel makes its way through a green and fascinating landscape with vineyards and forests. Just after leaving Zell there will be another hiking opportunity that leads you to the “Marienburg” where you will be awarded by a splendid view over the Mosel Meander. Along the way you’ll find some beautiful towns and villages like the beautiful double city in Jugendstil, Traben Trarbach and the so called ‘Winzerdorf’ Wolf. The final destination is Bernkastel-Kues, a medieval town with romantic narrow streets, remarkable half- timbered houses and picturesque nooks and crannies.

Wednesday: Bernkastel-Kues – Moselle-Maare cycling trail – 34 miles (55 km)

In the morning the cycle bus takes you to Daun, to the start of the Moselle-Maare cycling trail, possibly the most famous cycling trail of the central Moselle. The track is built on an old railway line. There is no simpler way to cycle to the Moselle valley than on the former railway line through the Volcanic Eifel! The road runs through the landscape of volcanoes and crater lakes, along magnificent viaducts and past old railway stations. Light as a feather, it continues to roll on the Moselle bike path to Bernkastel-Kues.

Thursday: Bernkastel Keus – near Trier – 31 miles (50 km)

Along today’s route you’ll find a lot of Roman villas and public baths but also relics of other ancient civilizations as the Celts. All those historical buildings are placed on the slopes along the ever-winding river. “Special of the day” is the ‘Piesporter Goldtröpfchen’, a lovely local blended white wine that we are going to taste in a local wine-bar. We will take the time to pay a visit to Trier, the oldest city of Germany, where you can visit some more Roman legacies like the Porta Nigra, the Basilica of Constantine the Great and an amphitheater.

Friday: Near Trier – Saarburg – 22 miles (35 km)

During today’s tour you switch rivers in the historical city of Konz, from here you leave the Mosel behind and go south along the Saar. Before you take ‘exit Saar’ you’ll go further West to jump over the border in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. One thing’s for sure, you’re not the first tourist in the area: It was around the year 365 A.D. that the Roman teacher and poet Magnus Ausonius wrote his hymn Mosella: ‘Greetings, river, framed by perfumed vineyard-covered hills, Framed by grass; river of greenest shores. Your strong waters carry ships, flowing in easy waves. Along the stream, and a glittering lake your depths emulate.’ For the night you’ll stay in Saarburg. Don’t forget to take a walk through the old town center with the famous waterfalls and pay a visit to the old city castle. 

Saturday: Saarburg – Merzig – 22 miles (35km)

From Saarburg you cycle south along the Saar. Around the little village of Saarhölzbach you leave Rheinland Pfalz behind and enter the Saarland. The history of this little village goes back to the year 802 and the government of Charlemagne, also known as Charles the Great, king of Franks, king of Italy and the first Holy Roman Emperor. Today we will have lunch in Mettlach, a little town along the Saar River where we will visit the famous Villeroy & Boch porcelain museum. Today’s highlight is the beautiful Saarschleife (Saar loop). You will have the opportunity to hike to a panorama-point where you can have a great view over the whole region. Endpoint of today is Merzig, a small city in Saarland at about 10 km from the border with France.

Sunday: Merzig

After breakfast: disembarkation at 9:30 a.m. and end of tour. It is well worth the effort to take some time to look around in Merzig to visit the Garden of Senses or the wolf park of Werner Freund.

Note: The following week’s tour will have the reverse itinerary; starting in Merzig and ending in Cochem. The itinerary is reversed with the order of the sights changed slightly. Please look at the Saar and Mosel River Route if you are interested in the reverse itinerary.

Getting There

The barge embarks in Cochem, and the mooring location is easy to reach by train. From Cologne the train takes one hour and forty-five minutes, with one change in Koblenz. From Frankfurt the train takes two hours and fifteen minutes, with one change in Koblenz. For the exact departure times and prices check www.db.de . If you want you can bring your luggage in advance, from 12 Noon onwards. A map, detailed instructions to barge location, and the name of your boat will be provided after your final payment is received.

Meals

The cook prepares all meals: a substantial breakfast and a three-course dinner of very good quality. A packed lunch may be prepared after breakfast. Tea and coffee will be ready when you arrive on board in the afternoon. There is a bar on the boat with beer, wine and soft drinks at reasonable prices. If you have special meal requirements, we ask you to mention this when booking. In the case of a gluten-free diet there is an additional charge of $60 per week.

Prices and Dates

Check out our Tour Calendar under “Bike and Barge Tours”

Tour Length

8 days/ 7 nights

Included
      – 7 nights on board the ship (sheets, blankets and two towels)
      – 7 breakfasts, 7 packed lunches and 7 dinners
      – Coffee and tea on board
      – 24-speed bicycle, including helmet, water bottle, pannier, lock, and bike insurance
      – Tour guidance (multilingual)
      – Ferry fees
      – Reservation fee
Bicycles

A well maintained, comfortable 24-speed hybrid bicycle is available free of charge for each participant. Men and women’s models are available in sizes appropriate to your height. The bikes come with helmets, grip shifters, hand brakes, carrier bag, lock, repair kit, water bottle holders, water bottle, and bike insurance! If you prefer to bring your own bike you are welcome to do so at a discount of $85 per person. Electric bikes can be rented for this tour ($115.00 p.p.). We advise you only to rent an electric bike if you have first tried one at home. They are heavier than regular bikes and therefore can be difficult to maneuver.

Level of Difficulty

This tour is rated “easy” for its flat terrain and low mileage. All distances are approximate. The above planned itinerary is subject to change due to changing wind and weather conditions and other unforeseen circumstances having to do with mooring requirements, etc. A good basic physical fitness means more fun during your bike vacation.

Excluded

– Airfare
– Drinks (other than coffee or tea)
– Transfer between airport and barge
– Gratuity for the guide
– Trip cancellation insurance
– Admission fees to the various museums or places of interest (about € 15 per person)

Wifi

WiFi is available on a limited basis on board, only in the lounge and on deck. Up to 50 MB is free, for more than 50 MB there’s a surcharge.

Weather

Average daytime temperatures in April and May are 50-60, June, July, and August 60-75, September and October 55-70. Average rainfall is 10 days per month.

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