Arrival into the Moselle River village of Bernkastle, Germany stirs childlike delight – as if the hand of time has turned back several decades. Old weathered pages from German fairy tales leap to life. How uncanny – there standing before me are red-roofed cottages with colorful flower boxes and wooden shutters outlining multi-paned windows. Each home, café, and shop stands slightly different from the other, unique in its own character yet similar to its neighbors.
Walk with me down the cobble-stoned foot path past the Hansel & Gretel dwellings. Stop for a moment to look beyond the enchanting architecture and up the steep green hillside filled with diagonally patterned rows of grape vines. As your gaze sweeps up the vast, dense hillside, drink in the scene. Add to it, at the top, just above the furthermost vineyard, a dwelling fit for royalty – Castle Landshut. Built by Archbishop Heinrich von Vinstigen and his successor Boemund in 1277, this fortress towers over the valley casting an immense shadow upon its surroundings. It is no surprise that the name “Landshut” means “protector of the countryside.” Standing independent with such an impressive visual force, it occupies proud and protective guardianship over the entire town of Bernkastle below. Envision Rapunzel standing in one of the towers with her long golden hair flowing from the castle window to the ground below beckoning not only her prince charming but now 21st century visitors.
The Moselle River winds its way through Germany’s countryside for 160 miles. It eventually joins the Rhine River which is a wonderful place to begin exploring. Hop in a rental car or travel on a comfortable river boat through a land scattered with villages, castles, fortresses, quaint windy roads that travel the river’s edges and dozens of bridges to and fro. Wind your way through the rolling hills of western Germany where the Moselle Valley beckons, and find the little old village of Bernkastle. This valley village not only greets her visitors like a warm hug but transports travelers into another world and time.