Stupidly, I just realized the reason why good bloggers tend to write things down as soon as possible after they happened - it's because they remember better. Duh. Sadly, here I am five days late with this post - and even now my memories of things are a little bit fuzzy. Sniff!
The Hotel Maimuehle (I'll fix the umlaut later, I promise) was perfectly fine. Breakfast was decent coffee, fresh rolls, all the usual stuff. I paid my bill and headed off - or, well, I headed just outside to stare at the information boards just outside of Perl station, which is across the street from the hotel. The town has kind of an edge of the Empire feel to it, which is fitting that you can walk into two different foreign countries in just a few minutes if you're so inclined.
Now, the Moselsteig proper doesn't begin at the train station, just a Zuweg, or feeder trail. That's fine. This part had kind of that feeling you get whenever you take a train somewhere: it went through a bunch of back yards, with everything looking kind of overgrown, weedy, and very much "don't worry about cleaning this up, no on important will ever see it." After a long, slow uphill stretch, it was pretty clear that I was in the village proper - but not near the center, which was supposed to have a charming Baroque palace garden, so I went the wrong way for a bit to double back into town and check it out. Yup, that's a charming garden alright, complete with a bunch of garish plants that will probably be killed by frost in a few weeks. 'S cool. The actual town center looked like it would be jammin' on a Friday night, what with a couple of hotels, some somewhat downmarket looking pubs 'n clubs, and plenty of those ubiquitous German "do NOT let your dog shit here" signs. You know, the ones with the graphic turds falling out of a dog's butt. Pritty!
OK, so back towards the trail, back south towards France and into a reasonably comfortable looking neighborhood. For the first (and last time) today, I am confused by a train sign with a horizontal yellow bar (I think it was just unnecessary bling) and double-check my Rother app to make sure I'm going the right way, which I am. Up ahead at the "spectacular" lookout onto both France and Luxembourg, I feel lucky that I'm able to see the sign describing the "breathtaking" view at all what with the dense early morning fog. Note to self: google pictures of this place later to see what all the fuss was about.
From there the trail headed uphill into a lovely NSG, or nature reserve. There were a bunch of random trails going off in all directions complete with little signs for each of the special trails; the Moselsteig signs were easy to follow + there was no chance of me getting lost. It being Sunday, there were plenty of folks here me there, mostly locals with dogs, occasionally mountain bikers, more rarely obvious hikers. The trail meandered through the forests and eventually started heading away from the French border; shortly afterwards, the sun started sending out tentative rays as if to decide whether or not it could be bothered to brighten the day, which it eventually more or less did. Central European weather is of course nothing like Southern California weather (although both places do have morning fogs, come to think of it). In San Diego, weather seems mostly binary: either it's a brief morning fog or else it's full on sun, bam, thank you. But German weather's more subtle, finicky; sun comes and goes, it might rain a bit, maybe some fog. It's super emo, basically. Which is cool, because when the sun comes ALL the way out, it feels special.
Sure enough, at some point I was loping across a beautiful meadow filled with all kinds of tiny, delicate flowers, and then bam, full on sun for just a minute or two reflecting off of the dew. Kinda... what would Kant say? I forget the word, but that feeling is wonderful - when you briefly stand in awe of the natural world and realize how lucky you are to be able to experience it.
The day continued along its own elliptic rhythm. There was a village with a beautiful pond at its center, along with a large information sign explaining that they'd won a second place prize for Germany's Most Scenically Improved Village or something. Just outside of town, I stopped for a minute to have a drink of water and a German hiker appeared with a large scallop shell hanging off of his backpack. He started a conversation, which I lamely tried to parry but to be honest my German is rusty af, so it didn't quite work. He quickly switched into something about "oh, some hikers like to be alone with their own thoughts, right?" and left me be, which I kinda felt bad about, like I was being rude... ah well. I gathered that he was hiking the whole dang trail as well (and spoiler alert; I've seen him every day since).
Speaking of other hikers, I've come across two other sets of obvious through hikers: one of them is a father-son pair (I assume; they could also be two married fellas - but wait, is die Homo-Ehe even legal here?) and the other appear to be a younger married couple who seem friendly. I've run into them most every day; the fellas in Trier yesterday for sure, and the straight couple in Nittel, at least.
Anyhow! Yeah, conversations. I'm not the most gregarious fella, but from time to time I've had to try to converse. There was a local walking his dog who wanted to know if I had a long way to go; that was amusing. But otherwise thankfully not much; I'm happy to just keep walking until I, say, find a nice comfortable bench to sit down and have a bite to eat, which I eventually did. Now, I had forgotten to try to order a lunch box and I didn't see any bakeries along the way, so all I had was a pemmican bar from REI - which turned out to be absolutely perfect. 400+ calories, not sweet, totally my jam. Plus, online reviews are hilarious: a bunch of whatever the opposite of SJWs are - angry young white men? - complaining that PEMMICAN IS MEAT!!. You know what? Fuck those clowns. Vegan pemmican is AWESOME.
The afternoon pretty much wound up in the a weather zone best described as maximally pleasant. The sun was mostly out, it was warm but not hot, the trail avoided crazy steep inclines, and there were plenty of lovely things to see, from the Autobahn towering above to cows lazygrazing + grapes slowly ripening in the sun. In the early afternoon, I came to the small chapel just outside of Palzem that marked my turnoff point for the hotel; I left the trail, headed into town, and found that I had missed the check-in by 10 minutes (hey, they close early on Sunday). No problem, my T-Mobile phone worked the first time when calling the innkeeper + she gave the code to the safe-box outside that contained my hotel key. Yay trust.
The Hotel Rebenhof had that 1950s feeling of modern post-war construction that Ill always associate with the Wirtschaftswunder years, when everything was shiny, new, modern, and clean. The room was just fine, nothing modern in the 2010s sense but obviously well taken care of, and there was even a view out towards the village. Cool. After a quick shower, I hung everything up to dry, changed into my town clothes, and ventured out.
First item on the list: walk the part of the Moselsteig that I'd skip in the morning because of the hotel's location. No problem, check. Back at the shrine, then down into the village to see if I could get something eat. Nope, nothing open yet, but wait, the Moselblick (or was it Moselterrasse?) hotel and restaurant had a sign saying they'd open at 18h30... but wait, there are people outside on their patio, and sure enough, the new owner was happy to let me sit there until they opened AND he fetched a glass of local Elbling. Happily, I got an iMessage from my Dad saying that he was using Find My Friends to see where I was, so we got into a wine discussion. For me, the Elbling tasted like salty chalk and limes, and it was frankly delicious. Very very happy about that wine. Apparently, the grape was brought up here by the Romans two thousand-odd years ago and it's only found in this part of the Mosel - once you get to Trier, you are firmly outside of the Elbling zone, alas. Good stuff.
18h30 came around and so did my Burger. No idea why, but I've seen a Burger on the menu of pretty much every restaurant with a modern bistro style menu. This one was ridiculous: a super-huge meat patty, too big to fit even my mouth, with pesto and some kind of fancy Italian cheese shavings. It was also delicious, even if the meat could have been a little less well cooked. That, plus fries, and a glass of merlot came to maybe thirty bucks, which is insane value by SoCal standards. I mean, you're not gonna get two glasses of wine and a mammoth hamburger for less than $50 back home, so yay. Oh, and the merlot? Also locally produced, from the Jeger family, and shockingly good as in "Wait, this is German?" Sadly, it's obvious that climate change is to blame here; local winegrowers are having all kinds of problems due to hail damage early in the growing season, new pests, and above all warmer seasons, which is not at all good for their traditional grapes like Elbling. As a result, they're trying out new things, and if this merlot is any indication, they may have a lot of of success - but only if they can convince people that a merlot from the upper Mosel is something that you should want to drink. (Pro tip: you should.)
And that was it! Paid my bill, thanked the owner, and headed back up the hill to my comfy bed. Oh, and I had to bust out the Leukotape to take care of a couple of blisters on my little toes, but after a consult with my Dad, it seemed like cutting a bit more away from my boots' inserts should help as well, which it did. It's nice to have a Dad who's both a wine nerd and a podiatrist, I gotta say.