Ahr Valley Despite the aftermath of the floods, the villages of Dernau, Rech and Mayschoß are telling visitors they are welcome, largely because the popular Red Wine Trail for hiking is still intact. Traditional Federweisser, wine, pretzels, sausages and cheese await visitors, along with a beautiful landscape.
Every October, countless wine and hiking enthusiasts traditionally flock to the Middle Ahr Valley, livening up vineyard trails and restaurants. They enjoy the first Federweisser of the season, a very young wine that is basically grape juice with a little alcohol, and they talk shop over a glass of Pinot Noir. But not this year. The infrastructure has been destroyed, hotels had to close due to flood damage, restaurateurs can only work to a limited extent, if at all. Still, the tourist associations of the communities of Dernau, Rech and Mayschoß have joined forces to make the region appealing to friends of the Ahr for October of 2021. „Drei Dörfer fürs Ahrtal“ ("Three villages for the Ahr Valley") is the slogan of a community initiative that will run on all five weekends in October - on the Red Wine Trail.
"The valley may be destroyed, but our landscape is not, and the red wine hiking trail is intact," says Ingrid Näkel-Surges of the Dernau tourist office, summing it up. That’s why it decided to take on a crucial role in the joint project. At a total of ten stands along the route from Dernau to Mayschoß, the villages plan to offer Federweisser, wine and nibbles such as pretzels, sausages and cheeses, as well as lots of information. Five such stands are planned for the Dernau area, two are planned in Rech and in three in Mayschoß.
Information about the flooded areas in the valley posted along the route
Information about the flooding and the status of cleanup and rebuilding efforts in the valley will be posted along the route. Included, for example, is information about the number of bridges, houses, roads, schools, and daycare centers destroyed, and about the clean-up operations and other steps forward in the meantime. Some of the positive aspects include the mobile sewage treatment plant in Mayschoß, the large number of volunteers and the many temporary bridges that reconnect the banks of the Ahr.
"Our goal is also to take away people's fear of being labeled as disaster tourists when they come to the Ahr and want to get a picture of the current situation," says Leon Krogull of the tourist bureau in Dernau. "Now would normally be high season, every holiday apartment would be occupied, but we can not hide what happened," he says. Not only residential buildings and restaurants are destroyed, but also the entire infrastructure is gone. Roads are mostly gravel, now a place for tractors, trucks and support vehicles. The same is true of parking lots, which were in many cases swept away by the floods.
Bike paths and rail route are destroyed - alternative means of getting there
The bicycle path along the federal highway is no longer there, and the flooding destroyed the railroad track. Add to that, individual transportation is hardly possible. For those reasons, many who live in the Ahr valley and those who visit are reliant on public transport such as the alternative service running every hour from Remagen station to Dernau.
The tourism experts recommend that visitors travel via Gelsdorf, where ample parking is available at the fire station and buses depart for Dernau every hour from 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.
The tourist associations from the three villages are acquiring their own wine glasses for the October event, which can be taken home as souvenirs, as well as the wristbands with the inscription "SolidAHRität", which will be offered along the way. They are looking forward to hosting many visitors for this unusual hiking event. The tourism bureaus want visitors to feel comfortable at the Ahr and come back again, despite the fact that it may be a bit dusty still right now.
The hiking event will take place on all weekends in October, beginning on October 2/3 and ending on October 30/31.
(Orig. text: Christine Schulze, Translation: Carol Kloeppel)