I’m not sure where I’ve been these past four years in Germany, because honestly, I still have no clue how this place was not on my radar earlier. I definitely rode past it that time I went to Luxembourg three years ago. And I was also ridiculously close when I visited Burg Eltz one fall (side note: I’m pretty much convinced that Burg Eltz was J.K. Rowling’s inspiration for Hogwarts).
And still, somehow, I had never heard of this place. Like, I have maps of Germany hanging all over my apartment in Frankfurt and even carry a pocket atlas with me sometimes when I travel (I know, I KNOW), and I still didn’t have this place auf dem Schirm. The place I’m talking about is Cochem, a medieval town on the Mosel in the German state of Rheinland-Pfalz, or the Rhineland-Palatinate.
Honestly, if it weren’t for a friend of mine who suggested that we take a day trip there on a sunny Saturday in early May, this place probably would’ve slipped through my fingers altogether. Which would be a pity, really, since I was pretty much sold on Cochem as soon as we got off the Regionalexpress from Koblenz.
Apparently other people had heard of Cochem, because the Old Town was packed with tourists by the time we arrived. But still. I don’t care how touristy the downtown was. How can you NOT fall in love with a place like this?
I’ve seen a lot of half-timbered houses since moving to Germany, but Cochem still left me in awe. The pink-colored Rathaus, the onion domes, the cobblestone streets, the charming shopfronts: It was almost too good to be true.
Then there were things like this ridiculously crooked house, which only added to the magic of Cochem’s side streets and tight alleyways:
Oh, and just for the record: Someday, when I’m old and rich, I want a house in the vineyards next to the river like these people down below. Well, except for the fact that I really don’t like German winters. Okay, let’s make it a summer house.
But it wasn’t just Cochem’s fair share of half-timbered houses that got me so excited (I mean, that’s practically a prerequisite for every small town in Germany). It was the location – the Mosel Valley with its rolling hills and peaceful vineyards – that had me practically hitting myself for not visiting sooner.
That’s because for someone living in Frankfurt, it’s just so easy to visit the Rhine instead. It’s only an hour away by train, and everyone says it’s the river to see if you’re ever in Germany (I’m personally a fan of Rüdesheim, even if it is borderline kitschy). Suffice it to say, I never really thought much of going to the Mosel. And that’s where Cochem proved me wrong.
Like every medieval town in Germany of a certain stature, Cochem has a pretty impressive castle. And honestly, with the surrounding landscape and the half-timbered houses, I don’t know what else you could possibly ask for.
While I opted out of going inside, the walk up to the top of the castle mound was worth it just for the view. I mean, just have a look at this:
But the very best views in all of Cochem weren’t at the top of the castle (I know, hard to believe, right?). They were from the other side of the river facing the city.
Here, Cochem could be seen in all its glory: medieval castle, colorful storefronts, river cruise boats, and all. Which is why, once we reached this spot, all I really wanted to do was sit down for a few minutes on the grassy banks of the Mosel, gaze off into the distance for a while, and take it all in.
But you know what? When it comes to a place like Cochem, you simply can’t take in all the magic in one go. There’s just too much of it to be found in this region of Germany – a region that I foolishly didn’t think of visiting sooner.
So now that my appetite has been whet, excuse me while I go plan my next trip to the Mosel Valley.