Castles, Castles, Castles!
We've finally landed in Europe, with our first stop in a quaint wine village just south of Frankfurt called Hillesheim. We are surrounded by vineyards, wineries, farmers fields, wind turbines, and cute German villages. Most importantly, there are beautiful castles within a short distance seemly in every direction. We LOVE castles, so we were quite excited to start our trip by exploring a few that were close to our first Airbnb.
Our first stop was to visit Eltz Castle. This was a castle that had popped up on our Instagram feeds months before our trip, so we had been looking forward to visiting it for quite a while, and it did not disappoint! We parked our car and opted to take the footpath hike to the castle. It was an easy 1.3km downhill walk through a lovely forest, and for the first kilometer you have no view of the castle, just a dense bright green forest. Then when you round the last corner of the pathway and emerge from the forest, you get a spectacular view of the castle. It's in a beautiful forested valley, with great view points on either side. When we finished touring the inside of the castle, we took a hike across the valley over the small stream to get a better, less populated view. It was definitely worth the 800m hike uphill on the half path/half no path, to see the other side of the castle - although our legs basically felt like jelly by the time we returned to our car.
The Eltz Castle has been privately owned by the Eltz family for 33 generations, and is over 850 years old.
On the tour of the Eltz Castle, we met a couple from Ontario (Crystal & Steve) who mentioned another castle nearby called Cochem Castle (Reichsburg Cochem). So we headed to nearby Cochem to grab lunch and explore our second castle of the day. This castle was on top of a large hill in the town of Cochem - it seems like every nice castle requires a steep, dreadful climb - but again the hike was worth it!
We ran into Crystal and Steve again while on the tour of Cochem castle, and joined them for a drink after. It's always great to meet fellow Canadians while traveling, makes you feel a little closer to home while half way across the world. They too loved travelling, especially in Europe, so we shared travel stories and got some great recommendations for some future stops!
After a beverage in Cochem, we started our drive home. On our way to Eltz Castle we had noticed another beautiful castle, Burg Thurant, in the town of Alken and planned to stop by on our drive home. It was well after the castle had closed for the day, but the views from the outside were gorgeous. There were no other visitors, so we had the outside to ourselves to enjoy the golden evening light and take in the beautiful building.
Overall, we could not have asked for a better first full day. We are looking forward to meeting more people and friends, and seeing what else Europe has in store for us.