Saturday, June 03, 2006

A Brief Travelogue

The Mosel river valley lies just to the East of Luxembourg, in the German Mosel-Saar-Ruwer region. Look at it on the map, or Google Earth if you have the necessary software. You can’t miss it: a wiggling ribbon of waterway running between Trier and Koblenz that looks for all the world like a bunch of grapes hanging from a vine - and nowhere more so than right in the middle, round the small provincial town of Traben-Trarbach, where the river curls and loops back on itself in a manner guaranteed to make geography teachers the world over wax lyrical about the imminent formation of oxbow lakes.

It’s a wide, navigable river, lying at the bottom of a steep valley, and the valley sides are indeed covered with vines, because this is the heart of the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer wine district, where they produce the Riesling, the Müller-Thurgau, and the Kerner. It’s popular with tourists, too, which is presumably why Bertha the Earthtruck took a short detour in this direction in the summer of 1974.

I don’t remember getting there. I was still in the back. I do remember us stopping to stretch our legs, shortly after we turned off the main road near Koblenz. The road hugs the river all the way up the valley, and we found a parking place where we could walk down to the water’s edge, and it must have been a dry summer because the water was low and there were rocks exposed in the shallows, and I imagine some of us took off our shoes and dangled our feet in the water, and it all looked a bit like this…

It had been a long day. We’d travelled all the way from distant Amsterdam, and been held up at the German border, and by now the sun was starting to set. It was time to find a quiet spot away from the main road and get our heads down for the night. So we piled back into Bertha and drove on-a-ways, coming eventually to a little village called Enkirch. Here Yaya found a small road leading away from the river, back up into the hills and along a densely wooded ridge that bordered a smaller valley, running parallel to the Mosel. After about a kilometre we decided we were far enough from civilisation not to cause offence, so we swung into a convenient lay-by overlooking open fields and woodland. Then we unpacked the Primus gas stove, and set the stereo playing softly, and ate a hearty meal of vegetables and brown rice in the gathering twilight.

We were on our way to Istanbul. And all was right with the world.


Blogger Cherrypie said...

That's amazing! I catch up with you at Traban-Trabech, the site of my first foreign holiday away from home without parents ( ok - so it was a school trip).

I think I've fallen a little in love with Paul ( has he still got such a cute nose?) and I really wish I'd been there ( not sure you'd have appreciated a 3yr old tagging along though) - but you make it feel a little bit like I was so I'll settle for that. x

5:42 pm  
Anonymous JonathanM said...

Hallo Mark, this is great. Am up to speed, so count me along for the rest of the ride.

5:52 pm  
Blogger granny p said...

Vegetables and brown rice, Mark? OK so did I in the 70's. (And 80's. Have slipped a bit since. Ageing guts you know.) Hope Bertha got her share. These days can't they run the likes of her on chicken shit?

6:09 pm  
Blogger Mark Gamon said...

Cherry Pie - I will be seeing Paul in a few days time, as it happens. I will examine the nose and report back to you. Further discussion of Traben-Trarbach to follow shortly.

Jonathanm - welcome. You're now a hitchhiker and officially reciprocally linked to your website. Which is interesting - I'm going to spend a bit of time there myself. Damn. More expense.

GP - good to see you back. I'm still partial to an occasional rice and vegetables, you know. But only if I smother it in soy. Sadly Bertha ran on Grade A maxipollution black smoke diesel fuel. We could probably have got her to run on all sorts of alternatives, up to and including wings and prayers, but we were lazy: it was all we could manage just wiring in the stereo. Priorities, as ever, firmly in place.

9:48 am  
Anonymous yaya said...

yes...and all was right with the world

9:18 pm  
Anonymous Pat said...

Well, hello Mark and hello to my erstwhile fellow travellers and latterday hitchhikers. Pat here, from the story, left in the Vondelpark and only now catching up with what my departed co-adventurers got up to between then and ... (ahah! you don't expect me to give away the ending do you?). Mark has been trying to entice me back on board, or preferably to start my own parallel blog, but honestly, once the itinerant hash-cake seller and I had found each other, memories of the time and place were thereafter inevitably doomed, although I have the feeling that, yes, for a while at least, all was right with the world...

11:36 pm  
Blogger Mark Gamon said...

No problem, Pat. The parallel blog idea was far far far too complicated to organise. Howver, we shall shortly be returning to your jumbled memories of Amsterdam, in a long and bewlidered meditation on the nature of human experience, 1970s style...

7:44 am  

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