Western Europe: Germany - Bernkastel-Kues and Traben-Trarbach

By Cubie - August 17, 2017

Bernkastel-Kues are twin towns in Mittelmosel or Middle Mosel region. These twin towns are separately by the Mosel River with Bernkastel sitting on the right (eastern) bank and Kues, the other. Bernkastel is complete with half-timber and stone houses but Kues is the birthplace of theologian Nicolaus Cusanus.

After my googling rampage, I decided that the game plan was to take a 9:14 train to Wittlich (from Cochem) and then take bus #300 to Bernkastel Forum stop. The train was scheduled to reach Wittlich at 9:41 and the bus to arrive at 9:45. I would arrived at Bernkastel at 10:08.

Wittlich train station
Given the distance of travelling and the plan to include Traben-Trarbach, I bought a Rheinland-Pfalz ticket for the day. That was the start of my 'eventful' day. I bought and paid for the RF ticket from the vending machine; however I stupidly picked up another person's receipt that was left at the vending machine instead of the RF pass I just paid. I didn't realise my error till I got to the platform and was looking through the details. I ran down like a wind and lucky my RF pass was still there in the vending machine dispenser slot. Phew!

I didn't realised that I was required to write my name on the RF pass till the ticket inspector approached me in the train. I do seem to have an affinity to be in embarrassing situation as at the point of time when I was approached by the train inspector, I had just squeezed some hand lotion on my right hand. I took out the ticket with my left hand and handed it to him. He then passed me his pen and asked me to write my name on the ticket. My handwriting is bad enough with my dominant hand, writing using my left hand on a moving train isn't really a good idea. I showed him my right hand with that squirt of hand lotion and explained. He then asked if I was going to Trier, I said no but for the life of me I could only remember "Witt..." When he realised I was trying to tell him I wanted to get off at Wittlich, he gave me this "Are you sure?" look, so I explained I wanted to get to Bernkastel. Umm... not very comforting when I knew I would missed my connecting bus as the train was delayed. He did return to offer his pen again.

Wittlich bus stop
I am too used to transport hub with big buildings so simple bus stands (despite a few of them) outside a modest train station always surprise me.

I didn't have any internet connection at this point and stubbornly refused to roam the phone. I missed the 9:45 bus #300. Either I wait for the next bus #300 but that didn't list down Bernkastel-Kues Forum as one of the stops, or I could go with bus #301. I decided to get on the 10:10 bus #301.

When I got on the bus, the bus driver asked where I am going after I showed him my RF pass. There were no other tourists alike person to be seen. There was a man who probably thought I was a little cuckoo as I could feel him staring at me the whole time I was in the bus. He probably only took his eyes off me for a maximum of five seconds at any time. I mouthed "Guten morgan" and he replied "Hello" but continued his stare. I almost wanted to tell him I am not crazy. Grin. He got off the bus at one of the stops before mine and a boy who sat at the last seat on the bus followed suit. I thought I was wrong and that the man was actually looking at the boy but turned out he was staring at me as he held his stare from outside the bus till the bus pulled away. This really wasn't any confidence booster as I was already wasn't sure if I was on a right bus. Haha.

The bus got me to the right place!

Bernkastel-Kues Forum bus hub is on the Kues side, but once I crossed over to Bernkastel city and saw the Marktplatz, I felt like I have stepped inside some story book. This is my favourite town on Mosel. It is much less convenient than Cochem though.

I picked up a city map from the TIC before walking around and spotting Spitzhäuschen, the famous Pointed House that is on many postcards.

The building which was constructed back in 1416 has a narrow base but wider upper floors giving the impression that it is very slanted. This website here said that it was originally built so to allow wagons to travel through the narrow alley running alongside the building; also to minimise tax. Tax payments in many cities in Germany (including Gengenbach which was mentioned in the night watchman tour, another story later) were based on the area of the foundation of the buildings. This pointed house is now a wine bar, which was not open on the day of my visit.

The weather was a little temperamental on that day with spells of rain, followed with sun rays, then rain again, and repeat. So some of photos were super cloudy while some looks like it was a great day out.

There are two fountains that stood out at this smallish Bernkastel marktplatz. One of them is the Bear Fountain designed back in the 60's and this is on Graach Street leading up to Graach Gate. The other one is the Capuchin Cross, a free-standing double sided stone cross in baroque style.

Bear fountain

Capuchin Cross
Graach Gate
Walking through the gate, one would reach a vineyard and a wine site called "Bernkasteler Doctor". Legend has it that Elector Boemund II of Trier became ill when he was staying in Landshut Castle. Despite trying all sorts of potions, medications and remedies, he was not any better. One day, an old winegrower offered his finest keg of wine, claiming that it wards off illness. The Elector who found that the fine tasted rather nice happily drank it and was cured of his illness. As a reward, the old winegrower jokingly asked that his vineyard to be awarded the title of "Doctor" as it was the only remedy that cure the Elector. So this vineyard was called Bernkasteler Doctor from then on.

Speaking of which, there is a very unassuming Bernkastel Doctor-Brunnen bus stop on the Bernkastel side of city which I stumbled on when trying to get my bearings. I later tried my luck and got on a bus from this stop to get to Traben-Trarbach against the advice of the kind lady in TIC. She actually recommended that I crossed back to Kues Forum to take the bus but I was lazy and decided to try my luck despite the infrequent bus service. Ahem.

One of the last spots I went to in Bernkastel was walking up to Landshut Castle to see this beautiful city.

It started raining just as I reached the bus stop to catch bus #333 to Traben-Trarbach. I stood there in the rain with my rain jacket, so was very glad when I saw the bus pulled up! Germany is a very cycling friendly country, at least along Mosel. This bus even had a trailer thing attached at the back of it to hold bicycles, how brilliant!

I stupidly got off 2 stops before my intended stop of Traben Bahnhof, yes, very stupid because I can read Bahnhof and I still got it wrong, haha. So I walked, the good thing was I wasn't too far off. It just means that I started at the other side of the city. Can't complain when I was walking along the beautiful river. Lucky it wasn't raining then as there was no shade anywhere.

I'm not sure if it was the weather or I was walking off outside of the usual touristy area but it seemed awfully quiet. Traben-Trarbach is also a double city like Bernkastel-Kues. Traben was first mentioned in the year 820, whereas written history of Trarbach was dated back to the year 1142. Trarbach was an administrative centre till a fire catastrophe in the 19th century which almost completely destroyed it. Traben meanwhile maintained its village-like character and thrived in wine trading business. These two townships consolidated into the Double City of Traben-Trarbach after the completion of the construction for the first Mosel bridge.

Brückentor (Bridge Gate)
Probably the most photographed monument in Traben-Trarbach - Brückentor (Bridge Gate), the symbol of Traben-Trarbach. See, pretty much empty roads or alleys.

I didn't do much, half the time was standing under covers when it was raining too heavily. Then I decided it was time for early dinner as I only had a bread for lunch. Obviously I didn't learn my lesson from the super salty risotto episode, I forgot to check for a place to eat in Traben-Trarbach. I strolled a bit, read the menus outside of the restaurants and went in to one that I found appealing with reasonable price.

The restaurant was fully booked out but I was early, maybe about 5ish so I was told if I could finish my meal by 7 PM, I could have a table. I took this photo after meal, only after I googled the place I realised I dined at Alte Zunftscheune, apparently at number 1 currently in Tripadvisor. I was totally lucky!

I ordered myself a glass of Traben-Trarbacher Riesling (€4.50) and Gehacktes gebraten mit Zwiebelrahmsoße und Trauben (Meatballs with creamy onion sauce, grapes, served with fried potatoes), €12.50.

It was delish! Food in Mosel has totally redeemed itself. I had a very happy belly that day, a perfect ending to an amazing day.

Side note: TGIF! ^^

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  1. Glad you liked Bernkastel-Kues and the little crooked house too! And it's great to see you coming across some enjoyable dishes and getting your appetite back after that earlier fever.

    1. Yes, I do! Both place and food are amazing! ^^