Romantic winegrowing villages in the midst of rolling hills. And a river that has been making its way through the wine landscape in spectacular curves since time immemorial. We flew over the Moselle in a seaplane - and took the camera with us:
Some people do things with so much enthusiasm that it's contagious. Norbert Klippel is one such person. The man from Rhineland-Palatinate is a driving and flight instructor. The latter makes him a colorful dog in his line of work: Germany-wide, Norbert is the only one who is allowed to offer training with a seaplane on the Moselle and also to grant landing permission there. Since 2001, the trained pilot, who did his training in Canada, has been flying over the Moselle, and in the summer months he even takes to the skies almost daily with his yellow machine. "When all the beauty of the Moselle valley passes below me, I feel free." Norbert sounds almost reverent when he talks about the view of the Moselle Valley, which he has not grown accustomed to despite the routine.
We start at the Trier airfield in Föhren. The direction of flight is determined by the Moselle, which meanders through the landscape in many bends. Moselle meanders - that's the name of the curves and loops that were formed in the region millions of years ago: Today's Rhine-Moselle region (better known among geologists as the Rhenish Slate Mountains) was covered in primeval times by the so-called Devonian Sea, at the bottom of which various rock formations were formed by sedimentation: Clay mud became slate, coral and shell beds became limestone, sand became - well - sandstone. Tectonic shifts caused the Rhenish Slate Mountains to rise to varying degrees (now you know why the Rhine-Moselle region is bordered by the two low mountain ranges of the Eifel and Hunsrück). The development of the Moselle Valley started in the Paleozoic, the Earth's Palaeozoic, 380 million years ago. We fast-forward to the decisive point in the earth's history: At the time of the second ice age, about 1 million years ago, the Urmosel River, which then as now rises in the southern Vosges Mountains, made its way through the various rock formations of the Rhenish Slate Mountains - forming its characteristic curves and loops: Less solid material such as limestone was eroded - i.e. worn away - by the river, while more solid material forced the Moselle to change its direction of flow.
By train comfortably and without traffic jams to Föhren: Plan arrival.
Since the Romans, the partly steep, partly gently rising banks of the Moselle have been covered with vines. The many small wine villages, which look like miniature towns from above, amidst the wine landscape spreading out from the river, also go back to Roman settlement. Two of these wine villages are Leiwen and Trittenheim, which are closely surrounded by one of the most beautiful Moselle bends. This section of the bend can also be admired from the countryside - for example, on the Trittenheim circular hiking trail to Zummethöhe in Leiwen. The Zummethöhe vantage point was even voted the Moselle's most beautiful wine view in 2016! And even more awaits you during the approximately two-hour hike: In addition to Vogelsang, another Moselle viewpoint, you will pass some Trittenheim sights, such as the historic ferry towers of the Trittenheim Bridge (in the Middle Ages, bridges in Trier and Koblenz were the only fixed Moselle crossings, in the small Moselle towns, the residents crossed by ferry to the opposite bank).
By train and bus comfortably to Trittenheim: Plan arrival.
Norbert's favorite place, the half-timbered town of Bernkastel-Kues, lies a little further downstream toward Koblenz, where the Moselle flows into the Rhine. In Bernkastel-Kues, the pilot ditches, as landing in the wet is called. The engine noise of his yellow glowing seaplane has already announced itself from afar: Even before Norbert lands, he is expected by passers-by. Norbert has become accustomed to the small hubbub he regularly causes with his landing maneuver. As the small crowd disperses, Norbert takes off again. For him, the way goes back to Föhren, where the next flight student is already waiting for him. In our video you can watch Norbert's take-off and landing - and fly with him over the beautiful Mosel valley:
By train and bus comfortably to Bernkastel-Kues: Plan arrival.
The Moselle's spectacle of curves continues: only after Cochem does the Moselle flow in more steady forms between the slopes covered with vineyards and forests. Until then it curves around more wine villages. Kröv and Traben-Trarbach nestle in one of the largest and most impressive Moselle loops. Kröv is known beyond the region for its good vineyard with the somewhat unusual name Nacktarsch (according to legend, in the Middle Ages an overzealous grape picker, in order to save time, performed his emergency urination while working). Not only the terraced vineyards, but also the towns themselves are marked by the long tradition of wine growing. In Traben-Trarbach, for example, typical Moselle architecture alternates with magnificent Art Nouveau villas built there by cosmopolitan wine merchants around 1900, the time of the Belle Époque. The places are then also perfect for an overnight stay at one of the many wineries. Especially during the grape harvest, guests are right in the middle of the action: Winegrowers can be seen over the shoulder during their work, and those who like can lend a hand with the harvest. And after the work is done, of course, you can taste the delicious Moselle wine, for example during one of the many wine festivals that are celebrated especially in late autumn.
Of course, the landscape of the Mosel region is also ideal for hiking tours. The 365 km long long-distance hiking trail Moselsteig leads on two stages via Reil to Zell, where the next Mosel loop awaits after Traben-Trarbach. The highlight is the view from the former Marienburg monastery to the Zeller Hamm: even the Celts are said to have been impressed by the view of the narrowest part of the Mosel loop. From Zell, it is still a few turns of the Moselle to Bremm. Here the steepest vineyard in Europe, the Bremmer Calmont, is enthroned. If you don't suffer from vertigo, take the via ferrata between Eller and Bremm. The sometimes very steep climb up the 378-meter-high mountain is worth it - from the summit cross, the view falls on what is probably the most spectacular of the Moselle bends: the Bremmer Bogen, where the Moselle winds through almost 180 degrees.
Cover photo: The Calmont is Europe's steepest vineyard © AdobeStock/AliceD
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