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Biking Vacation Heart of Europe Bike & Barge: Metz to Cochem​

Activity Level: Easy  |  Daily Mileage: 15 – 35 mi  |  Daily Biking: 2 – 4 hr
Pre-trip Extension:
Munich · 3 nights $445

Post-trip Extension:
Berlin · 3 nights $545
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Detailed Itinerary

Please note: For those traveling in 2015, your itinerary may vary slightly from what is presented below. 

Day 1 - Depart the U.S. and fly overnight to Luxembourg

VBT Air Package guests: Depart from the U.S. for Luxembourg City, Luxembourg. The particulars of your arrival overseas are detailed with your flight itinerary and airline tickets.

Day 2 - Arrive in Luxembourg City and transfer to hotel

VBT Air Package guests: Upon arrival at the Luxembourg City airport, claim your luggage and clear customs. If your luggage is lost, fill out a PIR form before leaving the customs area—VBT representatives are not allowed into the customs area. (Please note: Also make certain your VBT luggage tags are affixed to your bag so your VBT representative can identify you.)

After exiting customs, enter the arrival hall and look for your VBT representative, who will be holding a VBT sign. You will transfer via taxi or minibus (approximately 20 minutes) to your hotel in Luxembourg City. If you arrive early, your hotel room may not be available until 2:00 pm. You may store your luggage with the front desk. The rest of the day is free for you to explore this wonderful city.

Dinner is on your own tonight at a city restaurant.

Day 3 - Explore Luxembourg City

After breakfast, continue your exploration of the city. Your local guide will meet you at 10:00 am in the hotel lobby for a two-hour walking orientation tour, during which you can get some inside tips.

Luxembourg City overlooks the Petrusse and Alzette valleys and sits high on a rocky outcropping. It offers a combination of cobblestone-arched narrow streets and small elegant palaces such as the Palais Grand-Ducal and the Chambre des Deputes. The beautiful Chemin de la Corniche is said to be Europe's most beautiful terrace, with a pleasant promenade that passes restored ancient homes. The Casemates du Bock, a defensive labyrinth excavated in 1745 in the rocks beneath the city, is partly open to visitors. Other remarkable places include the Place de la Constitution and the cozy Place du Marche, still used for weekly flower and vegetable markets.

Tonight, dine on your own. The city boasts more Michelin stars per square mile than any other and has a lively atmosphere in its many cafés, pubs and pizzerias. 

Day 4 - Transfer to Metz / Embark barge / Warm-up ride

VBT No-Air Package guests: You are responsible for making your own way to Metz to meet our barge, the Sailing Home. Please arrive between 1:30 pm and 2:00 pm. Please note that you cannot arrive before this time as the barge is being prepared for you. If you are late, you must contact the barge as soon as possible to make alternate arrangements because the barge will sail shortly after this time.

The barge will be moored in the canal between the Pont du Canal and the locks of Metz, near the rue de Paris and the rue George Aimé. Contact telephone number is +49 151 57 81 33 06 or +31 620 245 095. 

VBT Air Package and Pre-Trip Extension guests: Please be ready and waiting in the hotel lobby at 9:00 am for our transfer by coach (approximately 1 hour) to the city of Metz in France. There will be a short 15 minute stop at the Luxembourg American Cemetery en route. Upon arrival in Metz, meet your local city guide and take a pleasant walk into the city center via charming bridges and romantic corners. Pass the elegant 18th-century city theater and the Palais de la Prefecture in the Place de la Comedie. Soon we see the imposing Cathedral of St. Etienne, one of the most beautiful Gothic cathedrals of France, built around 1250. Admire the fine stained-glass windows, including a modern one by Marc Chagall.

We'll stroll through the city and the Saturday morning local market, shopping or sightseeing on the lively Place St. Louis and Place Saint-Jacques. Meet with your local city guide again after lunch on your own, and walk to our barge mooring point.

At 2:00 pm, we board the Sailing Home. After meeting the crew and your VBT Trip Leaders, settle in before participating in a bike safety session and a short warm-up ride. Later, return to the Sailing Home and gather for a welcome dinner on board as we get underway. Tonight, the barge moors in the quiet French village of Thionville.

Day 5 - Bike to Rodemack, France / Picnic lunch / Remich, Luxembourg

After breakfast on board, we cycle along the Moselle River on a quiet bike path. Then turn inland and cycle along a pleasant rolling route through small villages to Rodemack, known as Little Carcassonne Lorraine. This charming village offers marvels of construction, including fortifications erected over many centuries. Impressive ramparts and walls encircle the village, and there's a labyrinth of back streets and cobbled alleys to explore, as well as an impressive fortress.

After a picnic lunch, we'll have free time to wander through the village.

You may bike or cruise this afternoon. Dinner tonight is on the barge. Afterward, the captain speaks about navigation and our planned route. The barge moors in Remich, Luxembourg. 

Day 6 - Cycle Remich / Nennig / Wasserbillig / Saarburg

We cycle from Remich to Nennig and its local museum, where you can admire Europe's largest Roman mosaic (remarkably, 90% of it is original and perfectly restored). Continue riding along the Moselle on an easy bike path. The river forms a natural border between Germany and Luxembourg. Our route, on the German side, has the best views of vineyards sloping down hillsides. This is the Route du Vin, or wine road, famous here for its outstanding Riesling and Cremant wines.

Stop for lunch on your own in Oberbillig, a pretty village. You may cruise or continue cycling from this point. If you cycle, then we pass by Konz, a small city at the confluence of the Moselle and Saar rivers, then continue into the Saarland along the more intimate Saar River. Wooded mountains, wide meadows, and farmsteads and villages alternate in harmony along the two rivers. Later this afternoon, we reach Saarburg, a medieval jewel at the foot of a castle that towers above the river. The town center boasts a roaring 65-foot-high waterfall. We spend the rest of the day exploring this lovely town, then dine tonight on your own in a romantic restaurant on the Leuk River. Savor the hearty food and viez, or apple wine, typical of this region. The barge moors in Saarburg.

Day 7 - Bike and cruise from Saarburg to Trier

This morning, we walk to the nearby former bell foundry and museum, Mabilon, which produced bells until 2002. From there, pedal along the Saar River back to our barge, where lunch awaits. In the afternoon, continue cycling along the Saar to Konz, where we rejoin the Moselle bike path and ride to Trier. (If you prefer, you may cruise from Saarburg to Trier.)

A slogan for Trier, a lively tourist and university town, claims that it is possible to see “2,000 years of history in 2,000 paces.” The Romans established their local capital here. In the Middle Ages, Frankish kings and the archbishops of Trier reigned. A local guide conducts a walking tour of the city center, where we learn about the Porta Nigra (“Black Gate”), a city landmark and the largest city gate of the ancient world. Then, visit the Amphitheater, the medieval Main Market and Church of Our Lady (where you can see the throne of Constantine the Great), the rococo Electoral Palace, the Imperial Baths and extensive subterranean service passages. Trier's monuments have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Tonight, the barge moors in Trier, where we can relax before dinner onboard.

Day 8 - Piesport / Trittenheim / Bernkastel-Kues

After breakfast this morning, we leave Trier and cycle toward Bernkastel-Kues, passing Piesport and Trittenheim along the way. Both of these wine-making villages lie on scenic hairpin turns on the Moselle. See a reconstructed Roman winepress in Piesport. We stop for lunch in Neumagen, where there are more signs of ancient Rome. From there, shuttle to Bernkastel-Kues, or continue biking among vineyards and orchards, watching for swans and other birds.

On arrival in Bernkastel-Kues, we meet the barge, then rest or explore before dinner on board. Bernkastel and Kues, united in 1905, were once two small cities divided by the Moselle. The pride of this small city is the market square, with its picturesque timber-framed houses and decorated fountains, some dating to the 17th century.

After dinner, we stroll to the fascinating cellar of Josef Zimmermann via an elegant district of fine Jugendstill villas, many of which display winegut, or winery signs. The simple, fourth-generation Zimmermann operation contains a century-old cellar, wine barrels and an inviting tasting hall, where we taste four different wines.

Day 9 - Daun / The “maars” / Bernkastel-Kues

This morning, we shuttle (approximately 45 minutes) through the Eifel Valley to the city of Daun. From there, take an exhilarating bike ride that starts out slightly uphill, then zooms downhill along a former railway track that is now a cycling path. The ride includes stretches through tunnels, over bridges and by small lakes formed from volcano craters, known as maars. We'll pedal past castles, vineyards and green forests before cycling through quiet villages.

On the way, we stop in Strohn for a visit to a small volcano museum. The region is scattered with “young” volcanoes about 12,000 years old. The typical maars here are actually volcano cones collapsed inside the earth. In Strohn, we stop to share a simple, home-cooked lunch with a local family.

Later, continue cycling to Bernkastel where we have the opportunity to try one of the local restaurants this evening.

Day 10 - Zell / Bullay / Cochem

Today, cruise out of Bernkastel to follow the Moselle downstream. After breakfast, we arrive in Traben-Trarbach, an architectural jewel of Jugendstil surrounded by woods and extensive vineyards. Traben-Trarbach was at one time the world's second-largest wine-trading center. At the turn of the 20th century, the city's wine merchants built a number of fine Art Nouveau buildings, many of which are carefully preserved and continue to operate as wineries. An entire range of Belle Époque splendor was attracted to Traben-Trarbach, making the city a favorite destination for lovers of the Baroque and Classical styles.

After exploring Traben-Trarbach, cycle along the river bike path to Zell Beautifully situated on the Moselle where the river meanders through the hills in many bends, Zell is one of the largest wine-producing communities on the river. One of the best wines made here, Zeller Schwartze Katz (Black Cat), is produced with grapes from 16 different locations. A sculpture on the market-square fountain shows a snarling cat on top of a wine barrel. Continue to Bullay, another big wine name. You can pause from our scenic ride at your leisure to enjoy a picnic lunch prepared by our barge chef. You'll find many picnic areas along the path. Arrive and moor in Cochem later this afternoon, then freshen up for a festive farewell dinner on board the barge.

Day 11 - Cochem / Koblenz / VBT No-Air Package ends

VBT No-Air Package guests: After breakfast your tour ends. It is important that you leave the barge no later than 9:00 am in order for the crew to prepare for their next guests.

VBT Air Package guests: After breakfast, say farewell to the crew and one VBT Trip Leader, then walk into Cochem with the other. This characteristic Moselle town has steep vineyards, wooded hills, medieval buildings and a picturesque center with beautiful timber-framed houses. Hike or shuttle to the Reichsburg castle with a local guide, where you'll enjoy a tour and spectacular views of the Moselle valley and its vineyards. The fairy-tale castle includes seven rooms of fine furniture and objects from different periods and styles.

After your visit, you may shop and eat lunch on your own before saying goodbye to your VBT Trip Leader. We'll shuttle to Koblenz and settle in to our centrally located hotel. At 4:00 pm our local guide will meet you in the hotel lobby for a 1.5-hour walking tour around the historic Old Town of Koblenz. It will be about a 15-minute walk before we begin the tour, so we recommend you leave the hotel with everything you'll need to have dinner on your own in the Old Town once our tour has ended.

Day 12 - Depart for U.S. or begin your optional extension in Berlin

VBT Air Package guests: After breakfast*, meet in the hotel lobby to transfer to the Frankfurt airport for your flight back to the U.S. Please be sure that you are waiting at the designated transfer time and location. Please confirm your transfer time with your Trip Leaders during the week.

Important: VBT transfer times and departure points are finalized in advance and cannot be modified for individual guests. If you extend your stay beyond the scheduled program dates, return transportation to the airport will be at your own expense.

*For guests with early-morning departures, breakfast at the hotel may not be available. Please check with the front desk to verify the times that breakfast is served.

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