Move Over Venice

When I bought my house in Zell, it was always in the back of my mind that the proximity to the river means that flooding is a distinct possibility. The house was advertised as being in a “high water free” location, and indeed it does sit a bit above the surrounding houses that I know do flood from time to time.

Anyway, I was scouting the internet for old pictures and I was not sure whether to laugh or cry when I found a picture of my street with water half way up the front doors, and my house was in the centre of the picture! The picture was taken in the flood of 1993, which was regarded as the “hundred year flood”. So I figured that – statistically at least – my place should be reasonably safe for a few years to come!

The prospect of being flooded out is to a total land lubber like me freaky to say the least. But the locals don’t seem to share my concerns – water off the proverbial duck’s back to them, if you’ll pardon the pun. They are obviously used to the river bursting its banks, and they know when and how to prepare for it, to minimize the risk, to limit the damage and how to clear up quickly afterwards. This is beautifully illustrated in this German video:

I was astounded when I saw this. The river roars past, quickly claiming large swathes of the adjacent land, flooding the cellars and ground floors of premises located in its way, but with the efficiency the Germans are noted for, those premises are swiftly cleared and everyone resorts to living upstairs and getting around by rowing boats. What Impressed me most was the community spirit and the camaraderie – watch out for the two ladies in the rowing boat before and after they have had a drink!

So watch out for future videos of the Mosel “Hochwasser” – you might see me paddling away from my lounge window on my way to the pub!

Adult Ice Cream

Ice cream as we all know comes in a dazzling array of flavours ranging from the traditional through the exotic to the downright weird. However, on a trip to Cochem I tried ice cream – made from local wine.

Initially I expected it to be just wine flavoured ice cream, but the first lick proved it indeed was made from the real thing and four scoops later I honestly could feel the effects! Maybe that was just a placebo effect, as surely ice cream cannot be alcoholic?

Anyway, all I can say is if you have a sweet tooth and love refreshing ice cream as opposed to the rich creamy varieties, get yourself over to Cochem and give it a try. Unfortunately I did not get the name of the particular parlour where I had it, but it was right in the historic centre and I saw other places selling it. You can probably get it in other towns along the river too, although I have struggled to find it in Zell.

A Quick Survey – Who’s Been To The Mosel Region?

When I Win The Lotto….

image I recently saw this place in Traben Trarbach. It is a crying shame seeing such places in an advanced state of decay, and even sadder that it is often wrongly considered more cost effective to demolish and build new rather than renovate. This one has some superb architectural details and was clearly a building of notable standing in its day. So if anyone has a spare million, I would happily take it and save this jewel…!

Fast Connections To The Remotest Places

In many parts of the region, the quality of the internet service available is a bit of a hit and miss affair. When I was in my previous city in the industrial heartland of Germany, I enjoyed very reliable, high speed internet. However, now I, like many others, am forced to use a network which relies on cellular (mobile) rather than fibre optic cable technology. That is all fine and dandy if the cellular coverage is good, but it can never compare with a hard wired set up brought directly to your machine.

However, a village in northern Germany called Löwenstedt got really tired of the lack of decent service available to them so they decided to take action. No, not legal action – they in fact set about creating their very own internet service. It apparently was funded by the villagers who paid a sum of €999 to become shareholders, and the installation works were done by local (presumably voluntary) manpower. The result is apparently an internet capable of speeds that puts most of the big operators to shame.

In Germany, statistics show that only 18% of homes in rural areas have access to high speed areas! and given that most of the Mosel region is pretty rural I suspect many of us fall into that category. Plans were recently announced by the government to get proper high speed internet across the whole of Germany by 2018 but little detail was given to support how that target will be achieved, and the cynic in me suggests it will not only take much longer, it will not reach everyone. So in the meantime, maybe we should take the same initiative as Löwenstedt and create our own high speed network?

To read the full article click here.

And to see what internet services are available in your area click here (in German).

So What’s The Attraction?

As you can see from my “Who Am I?” section, I am a Brit (yes, I can still call myself that now that the UK remains intact following yesterday’s referendum!) Germanophile currently trying to juggle a career in the Arab world with a life in the Mosel. I like to think that my situation is unique and that I am the only “foreigner” living in Zell. Yeah, I know that sounds selfish but the region is so special I would hate for it to get overrun with people wanting pie and chips and the Daily Mirror in the same way the Spanish Costas have. Thankfully, that is not likely to happen as the region is not known for being a haven for sun worshipers which is ironic as when the sun shine over the river, it really shines and the river offers aquatic activities on par with most seaside resorts!

Whilst it is no secret the region attracts tourists from many places both near and far (I regularly see cars from Sweden, Denmark, Italy and such places), there are also numerous folk who have – like me – decided it really a nice place to be. Most of those invest in holiday homes which gives them an income whilst also allowing them the opportunity to grab a weekend or more here and there to quaff the lovely local plonk, whilst others are living here either as retirees, workers or even business owners. Originally I bought my place in Zell as a base where I could escape the madness of the Middle East from time to time. Previously I had a flat in the industrial Ruhr region of Germany. That was okay, but not the kind of place I want to spend the rest of my life. So for now, I fly to my new ‘home’ as often as I can, and I am looking forward to the day when I can be permanently part of local life.

So what attracted me to this region in particular? Well, it is unquestionably an area of outstanding natural beauty offering so many leisure opportunities for everyone. Personally, my favourite activities are exploring the region on foot or by bike and discovering the numerous historic towns, villages and castles that the area is so abundantly blessed with. Luxembourg, Belgium and Holland are on the doorstep and other places are within easy reach. Then of course, there is the wine which really does speak for itself, and being in Germany, the beer is not half bad either! I am also a bit of a motorbike fan and the region attracts bikers from all over Europe seeking thrilling rides against a backdrop of thrilling scenery. Oh, and I almost forgot the river – boating and canoeing for starters? Yes please! But above all – and excuse me if this sounds corny – it is the people who are wonderfully friendly and welcoming.

If you have never visited the region, do so. You will not regret it. But shhh, keep it to yourself as we don’t want to spoil the place!