2018/06/27 – Stelzenberg Germany with Ralf and Martina

Wednesday 27th – Saturday 30th June

Our home for four wonderful days and nights:  STELZENBERG with Martina and Ralf

Caught up with Martina and Ralf in their lovely home.  It was only a few weeks ago in Croatia where we shared some great places and experiences together yet it seemed like a lifetime ago.  We had so much to catch up on so we rambled on about our adventures for the whole day and late into the night.  Met their lovely friends Petra and Walter that evening and enjoyed a wonderful BBQ “German Style” on the back deck.  It is summer here now so it is still light well after 10 pm.

A fire and a BBQ on Ralf and Martina’s back deck with Petra getting ready to eat

The schnapps came out at the end and it was evident no one wanted to go to bed.  Ziggy was parked on a pad at the front of the house so did not have far to stagger home.

Did so many things and saw so much of this lovely part of Germany over the four days.  No driving for my driver as Martina expertly drove us from village to village and my driver became a passive passenger!

First off to the Schlossberg Caves in Homburg.   Originally in the 17th century the sand extracted from here was used to make glass. 

The underground bunker system in the caves

During World War II they served as protection against bombing raids.

Martina, Ralf, Navigator and Driver in the Caves

They have recently been extensively reconstructed and now are a tourist attraction where some of the caverns are just amazing and accentuated by colourful lighting.

Great scenes in the Caves

Sitting high on the hill and on top of the caves are the remains of the ruins of the Fortress of Homburg built in the late 16th century during the Renaissance era.  

Our turn to cook dinner tonight so the Tennis Club in Kaiserslautern was the venue where Petra joined the four of us.   There was a tennis camp on so we sat and watched the future tennis champs in action.  Had the best and biggest Parmy ever and needed both Ralf and my driver to help me out to finish it.

After brekky on went the walking shoes and we headed to the forest which backs on to their home for a leisurely four hour walk through the Pfalzer Forest to Trippstadt.   The walking track is well used by the locals and even though it was a work day, we passed many walkers.  It was so breathtakingly beautiful with the track taking us through huge forests and by and over clear mountain streams. 

Beautiful scenery on the hike through the Valley

Surprisingly did not see any fauna except for a few frogs croaking away in the streams. 

Stopped three quarters of the way in this 13+ mile hike at a camping ground for coffee and cake and didn’t realise until we resumed our hike, how far we had come and how much further we needed to go.  An amazing walk, the longest by far I think we have made so far.  Think we were all tired at the end of it.

Big day on the road next day where we visited the very touristy village of St Martin.   A must visit village – one of those magic little places where everything is a picture worth capturing.  It is set amongst vineyards for as far as you can see and every second place is a Weingut offering wine tasting and/or accommodation and meals or both.

Beautiful scenery in St Martin

Stopped in at the Consulat des Weins for wine tasting.  Highly recommended by Ralf and Martina as being one of the better Weingut’s in the area.   Beautifully set out with as many wines as you wanted to taste.  Just take a glass and help yourself to whatever you wanted.   MMmm???  one could get quite plastered if not careful.  Tried a couple of really delicious wines – sparkling for Martina and myself while Rob savoured the still whites.

The wine buffs checking out the menu

Onward through a number of quaint villages to Bad Durkheim where we were shown the worlds largest wine barrel which is in fact a restaurant with no windows.

The unusual wine barrel restaurant in Bad Durkheim

Finished this wonderful day at Weisenheim am Berg in a trendy restaurant named Solo.  The entry doors leading into the courtyard are large enough to fit the front of a castle and once past these you enter the courtyard which has a poolside setting in the middle of a lush green garden.  Bean bags are everywhere and every place setting around the pool is different.  No two tables are the same.  Guests were sitting around the pool on bean bags sipping their coffees and dangling their feet in the cool water.  The place was packed but we were lucky enough to get the best seat in the house as it was vacated just as we arrived.

Martina, Ralf and the Navigator overlooking the pool

Thank you so much Ralf and Martina for sharing your home, your friends and your family with us and for the special friendship we have shared and hope we can continue when you visit us in Australia.

Ralf and Martina both work at the Kaiserslautern Hospital and were able to provide advice and drops for the Driver’s eye problems. The eyes are much better and we thank them for their expertise,  time and trouble in this matter.

Sunday 1st July

Our campsite for tonight:  Mettlacher Abtei-Brau, Mettlach – GPS 49.498161N    6.596750E

Small uninteresting but well situated Stellplatz in the carpark for the Abtei- Brau (brewery).  Right on the outskirts of Mettlach with only a few minutes walk to the centre where there are numerous factory outlet shops.  Very pretty Main Street with outdoor restaurants on both sides.

The walk into town passes by the former Benedictine abbey which is now the Head Office of Villeroy & Boch.  A massive park sits behind the building where there is an interesting 20 metre tree covered in foliage and shaped to a human figure with a bird’s head.

The Mettlach Birdman and the map of Australia

Monday 2nd July and Tuesday 3rd July

Took a 1.5 hour boat ride on the Saar River which took us through a Lock system and then past a wonderland of forest trees and around the famous Saar River Loop (Saarschleife) – a very important tourist attraction in this part of the country.  Very peaceful and enjoyable trip but 20 minutes x 2 was taken up going through the lock system twice so did not leave much time n the river.  There is a good view of “The Cloef” viewing platform from the boat. Cool shady bikeways run along both sides of the river and would have been a better option.

Looking up at “The Cloef” from the boat cruise

Left the Stellplatz and headed a few kms to Orscholz where we ventured across the Treetop Walk Saarschleife – Cleof Atrium.   It is a 1250 m long wooden platform stretching high above the treetops and ending at the tower high on the hill. 

The view of “The Cloef” from the boardwalk

A walk around the circular five storey boardwalk of the Cleof Atrium takes you to the top platform with the most unbelievable views of the river loop and the countryside in Germany, France and Luxembourg and mountains and villages in the distance.  Really worth the €10.

The view from “The Cloef” over 3 countries and the river loop

Our campsite for two nights:  Reisemobilpark Saarburg – GPS 49.601131N    6.596750E

Didn’t realise until we arrived here that we visited this village last October. 

The Stellplatz is one of the better ones with really wide pitches and some bordering the river under shady trees – you have to get in early to get one of these and I think you can book ahead.  It is about a 2km walk along the river to one of the prettiest villages we have stayed in. 

The walk along the river to town gives you a panoramic view of the Old Town cascading down the hill on the other side with row upon row of beautiful three storey Bavarian homes, a large cathedral, the Town Hall and the castle with the highest vantage point, providing a stunning picture.

Across the bridge you follow the cobbled stone streets up into the centre where a thunderous cascading waterfall splits the Main Street. Little bridges take you from one side to the other where each spare spot is taken up with outdoor restaurants.     Flower pots are full of coloured flowers which makes for stunning photos.

Waterfall and restaurants

After lunch we walked back along the river took off the bikes and rode for the rest of the afternoon visiting quaint little villages along the way.  The bikeways here go forever on both sides of the river.  I am just so thrilled at being able to have this biking experience but again sad that I didn’t learn much earlier in life.

Hot and thirsty we returned and sat in the little garden at the Stellplatz where they offer drinks, cakes and coffee until around 6.30pm – really a great Stellplatz.

Took off on the bikes again straight after breakfast but in the opposite direction and on the other side of the river.  Heavy dark clouds appeared on the horizon so after stopping for coffee and cake at a small waterfront clubhouse peddled home in light rain.  Very refreshing.