In September, I was lucky enough to be invited to take part in an educational visit to Germany, courtesy of the German National Tourist Office. This was to be a taste of wine, culture and nature in the Rhineland-Palatinate region. The trip was a mere 4 days duration, but it was so well organised and executed, and covered so much in such a short time, that it felt as if we had been there a week!
We travelled at the time of the beautiful Indian summer, which extended from the UK into Europe, and this only served to enhance the entire experience even more. The group I was in was very small...just 6 of us and the accompanying GNTO representative. This was an ideal size and we all got on so well together!
An early start from Birmingham meant that the first day was still able to be a full day. After meeting the rest of the group we were transferred to Mainz where we were given a tour of the city, followed by a wonderful lunch. We checked in at our hotel and conducted a hotel inspection before changing ready to attend the Red Wine Festival in Ingelheim. Here we tasted 8 locally produced wines, new for the season, and were again treated to wonderful food!
The following day we travelled to a family-run vineyard in Alzey-Dautenheim. There the lovely elderly vinter took time away from his harvesting to give us a tour of his amazing vineyard on the back of a tractor-pulled covered wagon. We then stopped to sample his exceptional wine on the side of the hill, in glorious sunshine. It was an incredible experience!
We then went on to a 4 course lunch, accompanied by 6 more wines to taste! The following visit to Hambacher Castle was interesting, but after the big lunch and wine, it was a struggle to walk up the steep hill to the castle!
A short drive from there took us to the Town of Neustadt an der Weinstrasse, which was a beautiful little town, introduced to us by a fascinating guide. Surprisingly, the tour was finished by yet another glass of wine!
We were then transferred to our hotel in Schifferstadt, which was an interesting combination of traditional on the outside and very contemporary inside. A hotel inspection was followed by the second four course meal of the day!
The next day we travelled to Bad Durkheim where we had to earn our lunch by first of all taking a 5km hike! This was made easy by the fact that the woods were so beautiful and tinged by autumn colours. The views down across the town were magnificent. When we finally got down to the town, lunch was provided at the World's Biggest Wine Barrell, which was amazing! We then had a tour of the town, taking in the incredibly pretty Kurpark and the unique Salines...a colossal wooden structure, used, years ago to extract salt from the underground water, but today used as a medicinal attraction to help with breathing problems. A walk around the gargantuan blackthorn twig 'filters' proved bracing and really did clear the lungs!
The evening was spent at a winery for an entertaining and educational tasting of another 8 wines, followed by another wonderful dinner at the local brassiere!
The last day we travelled to Bingen on the banks of the awesome river Rhine, where we were escorted around a lovely museum to learn a little history of the area. From there we travelled to nearby Oberwesel, still on the banks of the Rhine where lunch was, again followed by wine and a tour of the pretty little town.
Sadly, after this, we had to make our way back to Frankfurt airport in readiness for the flights home.
The whole experience was fantastic from start to finish and a perfect way to be introduced to the area. It is an area that is often over-looked by people as a holiday destination, but I have really had my eyes opened and now appreciate all the area has to offer.
If you are even in the slightest bit interested in visiting this area of Europe, then please give me a call for a chat. I made many valuable and helpful contacts on my trip, all exceptionally right proud of the area in which they live, who will be happy to assist me in making any visit of yours just as special as mine was!