Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Ghost of Cochem Castle

Driving into Cochem on a very misty-gray-brown day.  Warning: you're in for a lot of misty-gray-brown photos of a castle.
Back in November, when my mom was still in Luxembourg, Pete and I took an overnight trip to Cochem, Germany.

about a 1.5 hour drive from Lux
The small town features a castle on a hill overlooking the Moselle river.
classic Cochem postcard shot, maybe a little more misty-gray-brown than usual
our hotel...
...with castle mini-view
...and next to the town square.  Note the "Mario mushroom" centerpiece; it comes into play later.
The first order of business was to climb to the castle.

looking back down at the river from the castle
We decided to pass on the castle tour (most of them in German and with a wait), because we were still itching to walk around and explore a bit more.  We knew there was a chairlift we could take up one of the other nearby hills, affording a view of the castle from yet another angle.  Plus, as we looked out from the castle, we saw something interesting.

Now what could that be?  An abandoned roller coaster?  The chairlift takes you to the little white building you can see in the photo above the question marks.
So we walked back down and over to the chairlift.

this was taken going down the lift, but you get the idea
We reached the top, and this produced--you guessed it--another misty-gray-brown photo of the same castle.  Enjoy.

you can also see a little cross and a viewpoint out on the bluff - middle/left of photo, overlooking river

So we walked out to that.  There were some drunk people who advised Pete to jump.
As we headed back to the chairlift, we noticed a path continuing up the hill, so thought we'd see if we could find that mysterious structure at the top of the hill.  And sure enough, we eventually found it.

abandoned roller coaster AND abandoned water ride?? (photo taken through a fence)
We continued around the fence to try to find the entrance.  And sure enough, we found it.
Wild and Free Park! Note the Mario mushroom diaper on the bear.

Closed cafe inside.  But what exactly is it?
It's a wildlife and amusement combo park!  Still totally in business, not permanently abandoned, just closed for the off season.  I looked it up later on Tripadvisor - it could be fun to take the kids sometime when it's not all creepy and closed.
And look what else we found nearby!
a real one

misty-gray-brown view from the park
And then we went back down and had a nice (and cheap!) Italian dinner.
you sometimes forget how expensive Lux is!
The end.

What.  What?

The end.


You're still here.

Ohhhh!!!  You wanted to hear about the GHOST!!  The Ghost of Cochem Castle!  Okay, okay.


The hotel staff had recommend a wine festival in town as something to do that evening.   We went down and checked it out, but decided it wasn't really our scene, and that we wanted to walk around more instead.

just getting started
We opted to make our way back up to the castle to take in the night view.  We arrived to find no one at the top besides us, and one empty car parked near the entrance, well past the empty parking lot below.  We looked down at the town again, the loud, drunken strains of German folk songs wafting up to us from the wine festival tent (reaffirming our decision to pass on that, thank you very much).  As Pete looked over the castle wall and down the hill, I ventured up closer to the castle doors.

here, you can see the closed castle doors through the archway.
It was then I began to notice a creaking, rattling metal sort of sound.  At first, I thought it must be coming from a house below us on the hillside.  But as it continued, I thought it might actually be coming from the castle.  Still, there was almost no wind at the time; nothing strong enough to blow around anything made of metal.

So I walked a bit closer to investigate.  As I approached the stone archway, my suspicions were confirmed.  The sound was coming from the castle doors.

I was starting to get just a tiny bit scared.

Now, I don't believe in ghosts.  Mostly don't.  You see, for most of my life, there've been times when I've woken up in the middle of the night to feel the presence of, and then discover, a dark "figure" in the room, standing there, looking at me.

Often, this "figure" could be explained by a lamp or door or plant or some other object that I basically had hallucinated into a more person-ghost-like object.  I used to wake up and scream.  Then, over the years I learned to tell it to leave.  I squint-stare at it and instruct it go away, and after several (long) seconds, it goes (sometimes turns and slowly walks) away.  This (mostly) works.

So I don't believe in ghosts (mostly).

But then, as I looked closer at the castle doors, I noticed a pair of boots through the crack at the bottom.

The boots stayed perfectly still, but the creaking, rattling sound continued.  Soon, there was a more wooden, shoving sound to accompany the creaking, rattling sound.

Someone was clearly trapped inside castle.

I ran back down the path to inform Pete:  There's a GHOST in the castle and it's trying to GET OUT!!

Okay, side note: Have you ever seen the TV show "Castle"? The name is just a coincidence here. Anyway, it's about a homicide detective, Kate Beckett, and a mystery novelist, Richard Castle, who team up to solve murders.   Castle jumps at any chance to concoct supernatural theories to explain the murders--ghosts, witchcraft, time travel--and Beckett always brings him back to reality with perfectly logical explanations.  

Well, picture me as Castle and Pete as Beckett at this point.  But with no murder.  Yet.

And Beckett's usually right. Usually.

We both slowly approached the castle again, and Pete saw the feet.  The shoving sounds were growing more forceful.  Shove...shove...SHOVE.... It was around this point that Pete suggested we leave.

And then suddenly, the doors burst open.

And a very large, very drunk man stumbled through the opening and toward us, vaguely registering our presence as he continued down the path.  He reached the castle wall and retched over the side, as we contemplated the fact that this was probably not the first time that has happened in that exact spot over the centuries.

We soon put it together that this guy must be a security guard, or at least and employee of the castle, or at least not a ghost (and Beckett's right yet again).  Pete again suggested we leave, before we got mixed up with this guy or involved in an angry German conversation we couldn't understand.  But I wanted to stay and make sure he didn't get in that car and drive down the hill.

So we watched him amble over to a vending machine, purchase a Coke (a minor miracle in his state) and then disappear back into the castle through a side door.

Do we stay or do we go?  The front doors of the castle were still wide open.

But he soon came back out the side doors, walked past the car, and continued down the hill.  We took one last look at the open doors, very tempted for a moment to sneak in for a look, but thought better of it, and followed the guy down the hill.

See, now the doors are open.  You kind of want to go sneak in, don't you?
Once satisfied that our ghost was headed home or down to the wine festival on foot, and not planning to get into another car further down the hill, we parted ways. Did he get in trouble when the gates were found open in the morning?  Or, maybe it's his job to open for business too.  

We'll never know, because we followed our good sense and didn't sneak into the castle and get ourselves locked in with the other ghosts for the night.

Anyway, muwah ha ha.
Pete in creepy castle lights

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