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holiday hotspots: Good year for the Mosel; HIT THE ROAD IN GERMANY'S STUNNING WINE COUNTRY.

Byline: By PAUL MYLES

CLIMATE change shouldn't be a good thing but try telling the wine buffs who've discovered sensational reds on the banks of the Mosel in Germany.

Record levels of sunshine means the land of Liebfraumilch now produces Burgundy and Bordeaux-style vintages to rival the best in the world.

The Mosel also offers a huge range of holiday activities including skiing, hiking, cycling and especially fishing.

Deep in its heart lies the town of Leiwen where we stayed at the cosy Hotel-Weinhaus Weis that combines traditional German hospitality with probably the best menu available for miles around. Frankfurt-Hahn airport is just an hour away if you fancy getting a cheap flight.

But my girlfriend Claire and I decided to drive as Leiwen is just five hours by car from Calais.

Unlike other holidaymakers who take their golf clubs, we packed up the van and included my Yamaha R6 motorbike for an assault on the Nurburgring road circuit near Koblenz.

The trip kicked off with a crossing by P&O where we enjoyed the comfort and luxury of the Club Lounge. For pounds 10 a head we got a free glass of champagne or tea and coffee with the morning papers. We also had lots of room to spread out the maps and plan the trip ahead.

Don't worry that the motorways through Belgium, Luxembourg and into Germany aren't that exciting - the roads around the Mosel are to drive for, and the scenery is spectacular.

The Hotel-Weinhaus Weis is barely 200 yards from the banks of the Mosel so fishing fans can spend the day on the river and their evening working their way through the delicious and reasonably-priced menu.

Hotel staff will even arrange all the fishing permits when you make your booking.

The river is an undiscovered gem for winter season fishermen, boasting gaming fish such as pike, zander, bream, eel, roach and carp.

The hotel's two restaurants also combine superb local cuisine with great value for money and servings I'd defy most British diners to finish. There's even a nightclub in the basement for after-hours entertainment.

One of the best ways of exploring the Mosel is by bicycle.

The river banks are lined by excellent cycle lanes making it easy to visit the local wineries and sample their delicious wares.

If you're feeling energetic visit the Zummit-Hof Hotel above Leiwen to view the huge bow the of river that sweeps past the rival town of Trittenheim.

Head south by road or on the regular river ferry service to Trier for a flavour of the area's Roman heritage.

The immense Porta Nigra is the largest surviving Roman gateway in the world made from six ton sandstone blocks bound together by iron clamps.

History junkies should also take a look at Germany's oldest church, Trier Cathedral. Dating back to 326AD it contains the Holy Robe reputed to have been worn by Christ.

For shoppers the city centre is packed with all the big stores and a wealth of local shops huddling round the mediaeval market. From Trier we headed north to the quaint town of Kues-Bernkastel and its twisty-framed buildings crowded round cobbled squares.

Here, winter visitors get to sup piping hot goblets of spiced wine to fend off the chill.

Head further east and you reach the ski resorts around Idar-Oberstein. You'll also find one of the most impressive sports, water and leisure parks you'll ever see.

The Hunsruck Ferienpark Hambachtal near Oberhambach is a whole holiday in itself boasting villa and apartment accommodation and every kind of indoor/ outdoor sports, swim and sauna facility you can think of.

So whether you're looking for activities, soaking up culture or mopping up the superb local wines, the Mosel's cup over-flows with choices.

FACTFILE: To book at the Hotel-Weinhaus Weis call 00 49 650793610, fax 00 49 6507936150 or visit www.hotel-weinhaus-weis.de

TOP TIPS

HIRE bicycles and join the local throng on the crawl between vineyards. Cost about pounds 5 a day booked in advance.

TRY fish caught fresh from the Mosel. Available at most good restaurants in the area expect to pay between pounds 4-pounds 7 a dish.

USE the de-restricted autobahns to get between cities but watch out for speedy Porsches and BMWs wanting to over take!

CAPTION(S):

BOW FOR IT: View of the Leiwen from Zummit-Hof Hotel' SIGHTSEERS: Paul and Claire at the Kornmarkt fountain in Trier' MOSEL ON DOWN: View of the river from the Zummit-Hof Hotel Picture: REX FEATURES
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Dec 3, 2006
Words:747
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