Kloster Arenberg: A Place to Retreat
(This abbey is one hour from Wiesbaden.)
They are mythical creatures. You know one when you see one; their habits flutter with the slightest breeze and rest just above sensible rubber soled shoes. They often have a strand of beads dangling from a hip pocket and coiled hair hidden under a veil. I wanted to peek into a world that’s foreign and encourages self-reflection. Kloster Arenberg, a Dominican abbey in Koblenz, Germany looked perfect.
I booked a single room for two nights. I chose to be seated in the “silent” section of the dining hall for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And I chose not to dial the (free) “Soul Care” sister helpline to arrange a consultation with a nun. The only thing on my to-do list: hike, read, rest, eat and repeat. Although it’s worth mentioning, they do offer holistic care and massages.
My room was a haven. Truly. I loved the soothing tones: sage, orange and cream mixed with the warmth of natural wood. The bedding and wing back reading chair were upholstered in a heavenly hue of white. The entire grounds of the abbey felt safe, serene and timeless. And those silent meals were a blessing, and delicious. The abbey’s stillness allowed me to inhale, digest, exhale and forgive thoughts neglected. Through silence and solitude a veil lifted. I left the abbey feeling rejuvenated and grateful for the opportunity to step away and thankful for the family who encouraged me to go.
The following is a recipe I cooked after returning. It’s from the cookbook, Twelve Months of Monastery Soups by Brother Victor-Antoine d’Avila-Latourrette. This monk’s soup embodies the essence of my time spent at the abbey. It’s not life changing. Heavens did not part, nor did angels sing, but this “Everyday Potato Soup” was uncomplicated, simple, flavorful and nourishing.
Kloster Arenberg is one of hundreds abbeys and monasteries dotted across Europe offering affordable overnight accommodations. Most are in beautiful locations perfect for hiking. Many make their own beer, cheese, jams, honey and pottery. Accommodations can be booked online (a few are old school, you’ll have to call or fax). I’m already looking forward to my next overnight(s) at Eibingen Abbey, where the nuns harvest and make wine and spirits. More importantly it was founder by Hildegard of Bingen ~