Deluxembourg 2 - Moselle magic
Trip Start Jun 29, 2005
235Trip End Nov 30, 2009
Show trip route
The sugar-coated and candle-topped birthday 'Berliners' (otherwise known as jam donuts) for breakfast increased the energy levels however and not long after we were sugar-rushing our way to the fatherland. There are benefits to living in a tiny country perched precariously between European powers at the centre of the continent and within the hour we had crossed the Moselle River (pron. Moseller by locals in the know) and parked up in the weiner shnitzel-diggin' town of Trier, on Germany's side of the border.
What a cute and interesting little place this turned out to be. The early 17th century architecture was shattered by WW2 apparently and even the reconstructed stuff has had to be rejuvenated significantly in the last decade, but I was quite pleased with the results - hundreds of meters of ornate and distinct facades lining the streets and shining in the chill (4C) sunlight.
However the main reason we'd come to Trier was for the Roman history. The city was actually the capital of Belgica, a Roman province first subdued by our old mate Julius Caesar, and some significant sights remain even though it was a difficult asset to manage at the time and the tides of European conflict have washed over it remorselessly since then.
The Porta Nigra is the most recognisable site remaining, its black stone weathered to such a distinctive colour over the ages. Surprising I haven't really come across that in all of the other ruins I've seen recently, although not many of those are exposed to this type of climate. Anyway, I'd have to say that the massively overbearing Constantine Basilica was probably the most impressive - a gargantuan structure composed of thousands of tiny red bricks (yep, the type the Romans did so well) which is still standing complete and in use by some church or another, to this very day.
There were other weird and wonderful sights around the place, mainly religious or palatial in nature. And before you think I'd forgotten the ubiquitous Roman baths - essential to any self-respecting ruined Roman capital - the Imperial Thermal was the last port'a call on our whistlestop tour.
For there were other important things to attend to - like drinking Moselle region wine. We cruised south and maybe a little west, snaking our way along the riverbank a darn sight faster than the giant coal barges we saw chugging along it as well. However the only element of bad timing this weekend soon became evident, when one after another of the wineries along the shoreline ended up being closed, despite being such a beautiful tippling day. The reason? German 'Fasching' - their equivalent of Carnivale.
According to Max and Romaine, our Luxembourgish guides, this weekend would be the only time all year the Germans could let their hair down, so most of the inhabitants in this particular area would be nursing serious hangovers by Sunday lunchtime. Oh well, after heading up the steep vine-covered slopes to admire the valley views we did eventually find a river side bar that could serve a good glass, ensuring at least a liquid lunch.
The locals of Remich on the Luxmbourg side of the river were out in their thousands enjoying one of the best days of the new year so far. Unfortunately we had to abflug not long after, so with profuse thanks we bade Romaine farewell, loaded up with culinary goodies that we'll savour for weeks. Now that's the type of birthday you want to have every year - even if you need a holiday once you get home! Cheers all!