I’m playing catch-up, being a day behind with posting, and I think it will be like that the next few posts! I am blaming it on the heat, but in reality I am having too good a time to spend all my time blogging, and besides, it would be very rude to my friends and hosts here in Bonn. My friendship with Hartmut started way back in the early 80’s as a pen-friend. (Does anyone remember those days when we wrote letters and exchanged photos and formed friendships through an exchange of information)? We have remained firm friends all these years, with many years of not having caught up in person when I was living in Canada, New Zealand and Australia. Now after almost 30 yrs I am back in Europe and obviously a lot closer, so really there is no excuse not to renew the friendship.
Gerhard (L) and Hartmut (R)
The plan was to take a short drive to the nearby Eifel Mountains, a low area of about 700m above sea level, and to take an 11km hike in the countryside. The weather put paid to all that with almost 40c heat , blazing sun and endless blue skies. It would have been absolute madness to even contemplate such an activity and no agreement was needed to call it off. So, we took a drive around the area, safely cocooned in the car with air-con almost blasting us out of our seats.
First stop Maria Laach, a small Benedictine community with nature trails, the lake and of course the monastery.
The lake is a water-filled caldera, a remnant of the volcanic activity in this area and is the largest lake in the region. With the lake and land all owned by the monastery, it was an easy stroll (in the shade) to the Abbey.
The Abbey was founded in 1093 and after a very chequered history, including fire, it was re-colonized by the Benedictines in 1892. We stayed for a short pause in the almost icy cool of the Abbey for about 10 mins to hear the monks chant which was rather beautiful. I’m not religious but there was a lovely peace just sitting there listening to this beautiful sound filling the space.
With our souls suitably saved and our bodies cooled and refreshed, we braved the burning heat to return to the car which was, of course, hotter than an oven! With the engine/air-con struggling to get the temperature down from over 60c inside the car, we made our way through verdent hills and valleys, passing beautiful villages and towns until we dropped into a narrow valley and came to Monreal, an almost secret village dating back to 1229. This mediaeval village crammed full of half-timbered houses made you feel as if you were in a time warp.
If you ever go there, I can 100% recommend the small cafe on the left where you can eat really excellent cakes!
Passing along our route we passed numerous castles, ruins of towers and fortresses, but far too many to stop and photograph, and also just far too hot to stop and get out of the car. It was truly exhausting being so hot. However, one worth the stop was Bürresheim Castle.
It is a mediaeval castle, built on a rock in the Eifel mountains and is only one of three on the left bank of the Rhine that has never been destroyed. The exteriors were used in the filming of ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’. (I’m full of useless info’)!
Making our way on the circuit home we next stopped in Mayen. It really felt that the mid-afternoon sun was getting hotter, and strolling around we could feel our feet burning from the scorching cobbles and that was in the shade! This lovely town was an important centre even in the times of the Romans and it is somewhat sad to think that during the Second World War, in particular during the allied forces air attacks in Dec 1944 and in Jan 1945, approx 90% of the town was destroyed. After the war the people voted to rebuild the town.
Some welcome cooling!
The last leg of this long, sweltering day was to stop in another pretty town because Gerhard had some chores to do there. We were now in Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, another historic town with evidence of people here back in 1000BC. Today there are small cosy lanes with beautiful half-timbered houses.
And finally a wonderful meal and a VERY well deserved beer!
You will perhaps need a beer or a wine after reading all of this. Enjoy and relax 🙂