Find charm in Eltville

by Karen Bradbury
Stripes Europe

Looking for a spontaneous and stress-free excursion from your home base in Wiesbaden? A 14th century castle, cobblestone streets, half-timbered houses and sweeping Rhine views are among the temptations of Eltville, a beguiling village just eight miles west of the Hessian capital. An easy and worthwhile excursion any time of year, there’s a compelling reason to make your next trip there sooner rather than later: everything’s coming up roses.

To make the journey part of the adventure, opt to ride your bicycle there. Leave downtown Wiesbaden by way of Biebricher Allee and keep straight until you hit the Rhine. Once there, you can hook up with the EuroVelo 15 Long Distance Cycling Route. You’ll pass yachts tied up in Schierstein harbor, nesting grounds of brooding storks, debris-strewn beaches where owners toss balls to their dogs, and elegant villas before you reach Eltville, known as the City of Roses.

Photo by Karen Bradbury

The town’s compact pedestrian area offers the diversions you’d expect in a place frequented by tourists and day-trippers. Specialty shops sell woollens, quirky home décor, designer apparel and essentials for the gourmet’s kitchen. Street side cafes serve cold drinks, coffee and cake, and ice cream, clearly the popular favorite on the warm sunny day of my visit.

If down by the Rhine is where you really want to be, a plant lover’s haven awaits. You’ll see not only the famous roses in striking varieties and colors, but countless other flowers in reds, blues, violets and other hues. As for backdrop, take your pick: stone walls, the steeple of the St. Peter and St. Paul Church, an ancient wine press, the 80 ft. high castle tower, or ships sailing on the Rhine. Don’t forget to venture into the castle courtyard, where yet more blossoms await.

Photo by Karen Bradbury

No bicycle to transport you to this magic realm? A train from Wiesbaden’s main station will get you there in 14 minutes; a ride on bus 171 brings you into town in about half an hour.

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