Day 23: zoom zoom

The Hilton Garden Inn is still an awesome way to end the trip. No rushing, no worrying. Just get up, get breakfast, zip up and wander into the terminal.

I was rereading old holiday posts this morning. I think I’ve written a lot more this year: trying to be clever I guess. Maybe I will collect them all and add them to our picture book.

Breakfast at the hotel was expensive… it was a good buffet but really too much compared to what we’ve been spending. Back to the room and packed up we checked out before 11. A long wander through a huge airport and we found Hall C (different from Gate C) and tried to check in at the Kiosk: bzzzzzzzt! I wandered away to find customer assistance while the girls failed as well. The customer assistance people zoomed us through and we were without bags.

Frankfurt Airport is huge. A couple of malls, people milling every where, a nice looking lady trying to sell us an electric Opel… Eventually we wandered. Up to Lufthansa’s departure lounge and lounges for a bit. Carmen greased her toe smugly while I looked looked on despairingly. Dry toe… I suffer so.

Soon enough we decides to meander through security. In our way we what them call out flight to the gate even though we’re an hour and a half before our flight. Hmmmmm. We stop to get our passports stamped. The fellow in front of us is being told his passport doesn’t have an entry stamp. We quickly switch lines and he is still discussing it. I feel so sorry for him.

Security goes pretty damn fast, although they make us send our passports and boarding passes through the scanner; not sure I am jiggy with that. Leslie, bag got scanned twice but otherwise we were golden.

At the gate it turns out you need to get your documents pre-cleared before boarding can commence. Never had that happen before.

A couple of minutes before boarding they announce the flight is overbooked and they are offering up to 900 euros if you will catch the next available flight. I consider it as a pretend the ‘next available flight’ is 2 weeks from now. But alas it is not.

For an orderly society, this has to be one of the most confusing boardings I’ve ever had but eventually we were on board, only about 30 minutes or so late. We got bulkhead seats again which are great although a young women with her child split us up. She’s originally from Strasbourg and living in the University area in Edmonton. Her kid is pretty cute and well behaved considering so it’s not too much of a trial. I will say if I hadn’t had my own squirmy little shit disturber, I might have been more discomforted. But this one was a doll compared to Zak’s worst moments.

Mom is pretty French. Her English is better than my French, but she says it’s hard for her to learn as her husband’s friends are all French. Or at least that’s what I thought she said.

Movie 1: The Avengers. Not bad but it’s one of those dark action films, and by dark I mean they cheaped out on the special effects and most of the film is really dark. On a small screen in an airplane a lot of the film consisted of a black screen with sparks and crashy noises.

Movie 2: Pirates — Band of Misfits
Movie 3: Moneyball
Movie 4: Tropic Thunder

Off the plane and through customs. The nice custom people let us through without paying any extra duty on the booze. Everything went smoothly and we have about half an hour before our boarding.

Dash 8, dash to car, dash home…

Happy cats!

Day 22: long train, meat plate

Early start. Carmen tried the scrambled eggs. I went for jam not ham and Leslie was brave and had chocolate covered chocolate. Carmen got to pet the dog. You cannot believe how shy this large furry beast is. The first night we ended up chasing him/her behind the desk just trying to make friends.

A final zip of the bags and it was time for the dreaded cab ride. It’s not until you add 6 bottles of wine to your heavy luggage that you begin to understand momentum. Suffice it to say when I began a turn with the bag on my back, I finished the turn. Loaded into the cab, we endured the amusement-ride-like trip through the old town until he hit a main street. It continues to confound us that there aren’t Death Race 2000 style statistics mounted in every street corner.

At the bahnhof early, we waited for our slightly late train. Boarding was its usually kafuffle. When are we going to learn to reserve seats in German? Eventually we were seated and on our way through the German countryside — backwards. This train gets to Koblenz in about an hour and a half and then we transfer to the one for Mainz. Mainz for the day and we will hop a short train to Frankfurt Airport.

The Mainz train is running 20 minutes behind so someone bought a box of Toffeefay and proceeded to stuff his or her mouth with as many rows of Toffeefay as possible. Because everyone knows that you can’t eat Toffeefay one by one: it has to be row by row. Luckily the train arrived before the box was nothing but a shredded wasteland of drool soaked cardboard and once proud plastic tray, now reduced to a crumpled shadow of its former self.

So, train riding tips. Regionals are fine if you hop on, hop off; ICEs (Inter City Express) are better if you have reserved seats… note to self. Another fine note is that if you buy a BahnCard you can get cheaper seats. In our second-to-last ticket purchase the guy sold us 120 euro tickets for 95 euro including the 29 euro fee for the BahnCard. This should give us 25% off all future train rides. Great thing to discover as you finish up your trip. ūüôā

We are traveling along the Rhine now. Much wider than the Mosel, lots of tour boats, but really still curvy, slow and lazy. Not even as much current as the North Saskatchewan. The Rhine features mountains and vineyard, churches and castles, villages and campgrounds, pleasure boats and floating hotels. This ICE trucks along pretty fast and is a modern train with digital displays and comfy seats. We are batting 1000 for the riding backwards this trip. I have a few notes to check in an atlas about the Rhine valley when I get home.

Mainz is a bustling city but quite beautiful, especially when you get close to the old section. We dropped our luggage off and headed into town. The bus info station produced a map and we figured our destination was within walking distance. Eventually we spied the Cathedral and soon enough the Gutenburg Museum was upon us. The first section is 15th century printed books and the impact of printing in education, literature and religious studies. I snapped a few pictured of a couple of early books (incunabula according to Leslie) but as I moved on to the printing presses in the next section, I was informed that pictures are a no-no. That was a real bummer for me.

I scooted ahead to the vault and while the monitor was away chatting snapped a few pictures of a Gutenburg 42 line Latin bible (1452-1455), an undated medieval MS on vellum and a Latin bible c.1300. I also grabbed a pic of a Speculum humanae salvationis that predates movable type. The interesting thing about that was how it showed a shift in thought. With the rise of reading in the bourgeoise and nobility, and increased interest in secular texts, there was a need to produce more, in a quicker manner, and it showed some significant changes to the traditional MS. Things like Bastarda script which was faster to write and much simpler pen illustrations started the streamlining process and presumably was a forerunner to the thought processes that led to Gutenburg’s developments in movable type.

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There are a lot of old printing presses here, showing a lot of different techniques for pressing ink on paper. Equally interesting is the section on etchings and engravings, from woodblock to copper. I’ve always thought it was an under-appreciated art, but now I am even more sure. But no pics… Sigh.

Leslie came by and told the sad story of the older gentleman standing next to her in the vault. His wife popped her head in and asked “What’s in here?” He replied “some old manuscripts” so she left. She left the room with Gutenburg’s bibles at the Gutenburg Museum without looking. Sigh.

Pretty sure Leslie’s head won’t explode but all the marginalia her brain has collected over the years about print culture and bookmaking are leaking out in the form of smiles, giggles and sighs. As always, academic knowledge of process and production takes on a whole new life when confronted with the practical, real-life applications it was actually used for.

Upstairs there is a paper making and bookbinding section. I think I’d like to learn a bit more about paper making, but from the looks of the video I glanced at it is a pretty intensive process.

The gift shop didn’t hold any interest so we wandered into the square and hit the cathedral. It’s big, red and made out of rocks: it’s the Big Red Rock Cathedral. Seriously though, I know nothing about it and haven’t seen a sign anywhere.

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Out into the square we run across Mr. Gutenburg up on a pedestal. We took a picture.

Since it was booze o’clock, we stopped for wine, beer and panache. And an antipasto Salad. Cold roast aubergine, mesclun, grilled zucchini and no bread. They promised bread. It was… interesting.

Arriving back at the station we grabbed our luggage and got some tickets from the machine for the next train runnin’. Up the stairs, down the hallway, onto the platform and the train is already there. It’s an ICE and should get us to the airport in 16 minutes.

All aboard. We scammed some seats on a nearly empty train and settled in. Wrong train. Seems the girls had bought tickets for a region train and we were in the express. It was going to the right place, we’d just paid the wrong fare. The conductor told us it was fine as long as we returned next year to redeem ourselves. So there ya go.

It’s the perfect hotel. Mostly because its like 300 yards from the platform and my bag is heavy and Leslie has abandoned her bag due to injuries. It’s the baby Hilton but is a great stop. Its a bit switch-heavy though: secret light switch sequences, camouflage shower switches… it was… interesting. A little timeout, some ablutions and we were ready to go.

We opted for dinner in the Square at the German place. Carmen and I worked our way through several beers, dunkel and otherwise, while Leslie siphoned white wine. We decided on meat for dinner. L had some sausage and sauerkraut while I talked Carmen into the dinner meat plate for two. Pork knuckle, sausage, schnitzel, meatloaf, beer gravy, potatoes with bacon… There was enough for an army. I ate my half, but Carmen came up woefully short and barely retained her meatatarian license. But she was drunk on heavy beer so got bonus points that carries her over.

Still, she was heard to exclaim over her white sausage: “If you like the pinky, you’re gonna love the stinky.” We’re still trying to figure that one out.

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The glass ceiling of the Square shows us planes landing barely hundreds of feet overhead, almost one every minute. But you can’t hear them. Eerie.

Back in our rooms it’s time for bed. Zzzzzzz

Day 21: slow train running

Breakfast. Carmen skipped her egg in favour of a rye bun. Morning is slow and it’s our last day. We decide to clean up Trier rather than rushing around out of town.

Outside the hotel was a cool, sporty little (emphasis on little) twoseater. A couple if turns around it before I realized it was a Smart Car. They don’t offer this model in Canada!

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A stroll across town gets us train tickets to Mainz tomorrow at 9:09. There’s a cathedral and Gutenburg museum there and we will then hop onto Frankfurt Airport to the Garden Hilton where we have rooms awaiting us.

After leaving the bahnhof we headed north out of the city centre. The St Paulins church is nestled in what is actually a lovely cemetery. It’s a baroque church and if you’ve ever wondered what baroque was, thus church was an awesome example. Built 1734-1751 it was designed by Balthasar Neumann; soaring white walls, frescoed ceiling, heavily ornate and gilt altar and choir; it was visually stunning. I’m not a fan of the baroque as I think it goes too far but you can’t deny it’s place in the scales of magnificence.

On blogging: it’s quiet here although a few tourists and churchgoers have come and gone. I’m not sure if I should be staring at the ceiling being inspired or staring at my phone jotting down the inspirations. It’s like the photographers dilemma: do you look a the subject and see the moment or do you capture the moment for the future. One is more powerful yet ephemeral, the other is a reduction of the moment but will live on in many other moments.

Anyway, I sometimes spend a lot of time writing to remember and less time appreciating.

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After we didn’t fix what was obviously baroque, we sauntered back to old town. I stopped at the tourist booth looking for an old map or poster. I’ve seen some lovely ones framed here and there. No luck. Next we checked the museum gift shop and I found a small one for 2 euro. Not exactly what I wanted buy it was only 2 euro: deal.

Lunch was two .5L of Reisling and curryworst for the girls. I stuck with a good old fashioned hamburger and fries. They don’t have ketchup in Germany; I thinks it’s a Protestant thing. I did however have thousand island dressing in my burger, so that close… right? After winning and crushing Carmen in an argument about why it’s good to judge people who smoke in a graceless manner we adjourned to better territory.

We figured a quick tour around the Dom Museum and then home for a nap. The Museum was a bit of a negative experience. It wasn’t included in the pass I had so we shelled out the 3.50 euro each (more than the train ticket to Saarburg) but it had no English whatsoever, a bit heavily oriented on the Rock (Jesus’ shirt) and the history of celebrating the shirt and had the most creepy and suspicious museum ‘monitors’ ever. Carmen swears the guy with the limp and squeaky shoes did it on purpose. When we were on his floor he wouldn’t let you out if his sight for more than 3 seconds before you would hear “klomp-squeee, klomp-squeee…” as he glanced around whatever you had moved behind. You would glance up and he would be peering through the railing or up between the statue’s legs. it really was unnerving and made you feel like invaders. Maybe they sensed we had let our catholic cards lapse (or, in the case of Leslie, were catholic deniers) and felt that was just the tip of the iceberg and were likely to let loose with the spray paint at any moment.

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Still it had some lovely old MS, a few scale models and some beautiful Madonna & child figures. I got a great pic of a chubby old bishop praying. Of the statue that is…

By his time Carmen and I were tired, hot and whiney so we made Leslie take us home. Outside the hotel I picked up a luke warm Cherry Coke that didn’t taste cherry and really didn’t taste like Coke. Sometimes I don’t know what these Germans are thinking.

In case you are wondering about tan updates, Carmen has indeed attained the exhalted Cinnamon Toast level of achievement. My left foot is the winner with chocolate pudding and Leslie is an even golden waffle; might even be Belgian waffle but there are politics involved so…

We strolled into town; we are schnitzled out so we went for pizza and a Malzbier (Leslie had bitter lime. I had a taste and it reminds me of that bizarre concoction my father used to drink so as to discourage us kids from drinking his booze). Now Malzbier is apparently a very malty dark beer. If you hold your nose it tastes like a liquidy molasses. If you inhale before you drink it’s like sniffing yeasty dough … at its very best its like drinking cold flat coke. We only had one.

It should be noted that pizza here is cheap. A thincrust Grosse is only 7.50 euro; that’s only .50‚ā¨ more than the Klein (small) which is too much for the girls… Maybe 12 inches. And the variations are pretty endless. Anyway
I had a Diavola which burned and burned and burned. I think the peppers must have been grown somewhere down in Dante’s inferno.

After dinner we stopped off at Das
Weingut for a nightcap and our last taste of Mosel. We are off to
Mainz first thing in the a.m.

Trier has been wonderful and I’d love to come back some day.

Day 20: Who likes old wood

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Breakfast started as usual but Carmen and blinked and sighed and we had our selves a carafe of coffee when we arrived at the table. A few minutes later the proprietress brought along the copy if the bill for the first half and a half-bottle of brut as a thank you. Credit cards and bank cards aren’t as common here (I think it’s because they reject the ridiculous service charges) and she had promised us she would hold the Internet rate if we paid cash for the second half of our stay. So we’ve been squirreling away euros for the last couple of days.

After breakie I lead the girls in circles for a bit, touring the shops and checking out the remaining streets we had yet to explore. It really is easy to go around in circles being so uses to a gridded street system. But to their credit I think I only had them turned around once.

We walked through the hospital area which revealed some of the more literal German. Apparently krankenwagen means sick people vehicle. As we rounded the corner we noted the large outdoor playground in a secluded courtyard for sick kids. Situated right in the middle was a huge apple tree overflowing with apples. Which prompted the clever among us to remark: “An apple a day keeps the krankenwagen away”.

During the early part of our walking tour we were strolling down a narrow street with cars parked all over the sidewalk when Leslie dived out and snatched Carmen up against the wall. Seems as a giant Mercedes tour bus was sneaking up on Carmen and she was just about to be crushed. The driver jauntily saluted Leslie as he passed by with inches to spare as if acknowledging she had win this round while still warning her there would be a next time.

Eventually we passed by the Kaiserthermem and headed uphill by going underground. Off to the Roman arena which defined the western border of the ancient Roman city. To get under the major thoroughfare we went through a tunnel. Then up the hill.

Throughout our visit here I have been hearing military-grade aircraft flying overhead, in clouding jets and helicopters but I hadn’t actually seen anything until a couple of days ago when a helicopter roared overhead. Carmen suggested it might be a hospital and lo and behold she was right. Moments later I saw a chopper landing on the roof of the building next door. Today, in the open space of the amphitheater, I saw 4 A-10 Warthogs fly over and a bit later a pair of F-16 like fighters. There must be a base near by.

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The arena (it was more arena than amphitheater was more and less than I imagined. Another amazing 2000 year old engineering feat but it lacked the finish I would find in some of the ones in Italy of southern France. Still it was a highlight with old wood, cells and incredible acoustics. I do need to find an extant amphitheater though and perhaps even a Greek one to truly satisfy my urges.

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We headed back into town and hit the Market Church (the Gangalf Church) nit was beautiful and Carmen found her favorite crucifix. It was a functional church that actually had a number of worshippers using it for its intended purpose. I noted we have yet to see a church, large or small without a pipe organ. I think there may be 4 in the greater Edmonton region.

We meandered slowly back to our rooms for a rest until dinner. During our rest period Carmen escaped and visited the local bookstore to acquire some kiddy porn (Did I mention that German was a literal language? No good can come of translating things…) and an English book about an inappropriate duck. She really has her duck on for the trip.

It has to be mentioned that neither Carmen nor I have heard from our respective mothers since their abortive attempt at a date. this has raised all sorts of speculation among the more suspicious of us. Was there a Mom vs Mom Battle Royale? Did they meet, compare noted and are mow too ashamed to communicate with us? Was the chemistry so good they ran off and started a perogy and crepe restaurant in north western Saskatchewan?

Speaking of eastern European food, we set off for dinner and I bullied the two Slavs of the group into trying the Russian restaurant. They were remarkable reluctant. In fact I remarked in their reluctance several times. That why I thought it was remarkable.

We started with a couple of glasses of dunkel and a halbtrocken. Leslie went for Pork loin, I stayed with schnitzel and Carmen had Wereniki. I think she pleaded the fifth about how it compared to the family recipe. We had anther couple of beers and were just starting coffee when the rain started. I was dry under the umbrella but apparently that wasn’t good enough for Leslie. Seemed she wanted to be dry too… Who can tell with girls..,

We moved inside and into the cellar. Vaulted ceilings and beautiful ambience. Leslie had some more wine, I out-beered Carmen and we all voted for dessert. Carmen had plum crumble
(sans whip cream), Leslie went for sour cherry Wereniki (sans whip cream) and I got brave and opted for the sour cherry Wereniki (with extra whip cream).

Well all I can say was I didn’t get my whip cream and a Perogy is a Perogy even without the potato. Blech. The other two enjoyed theirs though.

A lovely walk home in the moist air and it was off to bed. I will add pics tomorrow.

Day 19: She likes them dirty and bad

Morning.

Carmen sucked it back, I gobbled it down and Leslie ate chocolate covered chocolate. She is going to miss Germany something fierce.

Moments later we gathered at the lobby and walked across town looking for the bahnhof. My perfect sense of direction, stealthily reacquired from Carmen’s evil attempt at compassability thievery, led us to a shroud covered building which sold train tickets. I think they call it a ‘train station’ here.

The ticket machine wouldn’t sell us tickets so we got them from the nice lady. 5 minutes staring at the board hopefully untangled the confusing path to Saarburg and at 10:01 exactly we pulled out of Trier, hopefully on the right train.

Not so long ago the wine from this region used to be known as Mosel-Ruwer-Saar, named after the three rivers (or their valleys). We’ve sampled the Mosel but now it’s time for the Saar.

So if you ever come to Saarborg, turn north not south from the railway station. They both work but north will get you there faster. Down the path, up the hill and across the bridge as the giant barge passes underneath. Then you find yourself in Saarburg proper. So them down the hill, up the path and through the tunnel and you come across the mill, waterwheels and waterfall.

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At the base of the waterfall we popped into a Museum. It featured a turbine, Linotype machine with a letterpress and other old printing paraphernalia (very cool), a display on bell making, and a history barges.

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After we trucked over to the tourist info but there want anything there beyond the brochure we already had. Back to the “little Venice” and we decided on a lunch. Carmen heard the lunch call of the ‘sner so pilsner and ice cream it was. Despite Carmen acting like a two-year old (she couldn’t elevate herself to my exalted 3-year old level) we managed to order without being ejected.

As we wandered off we got into a huge argument about which was more interesting and enjoyable: the quack of Carmen’s ass or Carmen’s bum quack. I was all about the quack of her ass. I thought it showed more originality and class while Carmen tried to defend her bum quack on the basis of its steadiness and familiarity to other members of the family. In the end we decided to leave it to the individual.

First up was the Catholic church which had been destroyed and rebuilt multiple times, the last after a bombing in 1944. Incidentally the ancient bridge had also been destroyed in 1944. I understand the strategic reasons and mourn the necessity.

Across the river and up up up the hill was the Potestant [sic] Church. Much smaller but perched in the cliff side below the fortress. What I found most interesting about it was that it had proof that Jesus was an alien that gave brains to zombies. the stained glass told the story of an green alien Jesus that tried to befriend and convert the Zombies by passing out brains (which he had presumably transmogrified from loaves of bread).

In later panels the zombies rose up and converted Jesus to a Zombie Lord. Then the zombie hordes conquered the alien culture and rose up in flames and enslaved everyone. It was the most interesting series of stained glass windows I have ever seen. And a pretty liberal interpretation of the zombie Jesus myth…

The ruins of the Castle fortress were further up the hill and provided some awesome views of both sides of Saarburg. It has a huge hillside bisecting it with a tunnel running through. It had a tower extant so we slogged our way up the wonkiest stairs ever. They couldn’t make up their minds up if they were spiral, parallel, or just plain asinine. But the views were even better.

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On the way down we tried to figure out what a dach was (besides something a dachshund would hunt) but somehow it turned into a long critique by Carmen of the all the various mice throughout history ending with the definitive conclusion that Minnie Mouse was so downright silly, she was fucking goofy. Can you spell g-r-o-a-n?

At which I was reminded of Leslie’s earlier Treatise on the relative relationship in the German dictionary of penis and penicillin. She also tried to point out their lack of prudence and about 7 other p-words that just kept getting dirtier and dirtier.

We decided it was wine-o’clock so we scooted down the hill to look for a Weingut. We ended up a t a lovely little shop that had 5 wines for 3 Euros and ended up leaving with 5 bottles among us. No, we are not pushovers… They are just good wines!

I commented that they dont believe in spitting out your wine here when tasting they were filling the glasses pretty damn full and i had at least 3 full glasses out of my 5 ‘tastes’. But following the theme of the day, my comment about a lack Of spitting turned into a remark that they believe in the swallow here in the Saar and the dirty-giggles echoed off the walls of the narrow streets… Sigh.

We decided to head back to the train, but a wine bar jumped out and called out names. So we stopped. Carmen decides to brave an auslese while Leslie and I went for some 3 glass tasters. I tried a Saar Pinot Noir and while it wasn’t up to Burgundy standards, I think it redeemed the French Pinots from Alsace. A mini panini with mozzarella and tomatoes and lots of black pepper added some spice to our wine and all in all I think there were some good choices made. Thankfully my pack was full so we didn’t buy any more.

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Up and around and through the tunnel, we headed back to the train station. Just as I was about to turn north we noticed stairs going down. Turns out if when leaving the platform underground, if you turn towards the river you pop out right by the bridge. Huh.

A bit of fussing and we figured out the next train to Trier was in 17 minutes so Carmen and I chased each other around not touching while Leslie looked on in a drug and wine-addled haze reminiscent of senior patrician observing the plebes with mild amusement. Then the train came. So we boarded.

20 minutes later we were back in Trier. Did I mention hat return tickets to a town 30 or so km away was 17 euro for all three of us? That’s less than 3 euro per person each way… I can’t get anywhere on Edmonton’s transit system on 3 bucks…

Back in Trier we head for the hotel in a straighter line than we used this morning (knowing where you are going is such a good thing) and popped into our rooms to freshen up. A quick shower later and we met Carmen in the street.

4 doors down we decided on San Remo Pizzeria since Carmen could keep an eye on her room. It had been acting up lately and getting cheeky so she wanted to keep it on a short leash. Leslie broadened her horizons with a Pescatori pizza while I went for meat on meat with meat. Carmen had a cannelloni. But there was no can and no loni, so I don’t know what she was thinking.

The Pinot Grigio was Italian and the bruschetta delicious. The menu was an interesting cultural experience as it was in Italian with German translations. But since that’s a common device in Edmonton, we were pretty comfy in the Italian. I guess maybe there should be on our travel agenda…

I haven’t mentioned ankles today. That’s because ankles are pass√©. Backs are the new ankles; and backs are awesome. Soft, flexible, stiff, springy, mucsley… Backs.

Anyway, a walk ensued and we checked back in to the hotel to sleep. Too tired to post pictures so maybe tomorrow.

The Alien Zombie Jesus Myth

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Alien Jesus feeds the zombies brains.

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Jesus tries to convert the zombies to his alien ways

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The zombies turn on Alien Jesus and convert him to a Zombie Lord

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The zombies rise up under Zombie Jesus’ leadership and suppress the alien overlords

Day 18: Man, I need a bath

I wonder how different the 50s and 60s in North America would have been if American politicians had been forced to visit the Karl Marx museum.

We slept in this morning but Carmen beat us to breakfast. Since I was forced to hurry my morning ablutions, the disreputableness of my appearance was enough to force Carmen from the table before I could discuss her dietary habits. But Leslie had chocolate covered chocolate again. I stuck with eggs and jam and butter with some bread to convey it.

Across the street from our hotel is the Karl Marx Museum. He was born in this house on Br√ľckenstrasse, which is lovely and built in 1727. He was born in was 1818. He didn’t spend a lot of time here and the house was unremarkable until the early 20 century when they discovered documents referring to his father’s original business. then it became political symbol symbol for and against and remains such to this day.

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Marx was raised in Trier until he left for school.

Things to research later:

  • 1848 revolutions
  • 1871 revolution in Paris
  • Willy Brandt
  • Vietnam post war
  • The highlight of the museum was Leslie alternatively agreeing and arguing with the hand held electronic guide. Seems as though the machine might have had a slightly different skew on Marxism than our esteemed doctor. But it was occasionally right and she would nod vigorously in agreement. Unfortunately even though she was listening to the speaker in her ear, to the casual observer it would appear she was gazing at the window sill, arguing vociferously with it.

    On a side note, after much observations and consideration I have come to the conclusion that 3 urinals in washrooms seems to be a German rule. It’s pretty damn consistent.

    Upon leaving the museum we visited the gift shop. Leslie purchased the tshirt (of course) and a couple of Marx postcards, and so it would appear that she is, at long last, a card-carrying Marxist.

    We had a quick lunch of coffee and pastries and were on our way. Headed for the baths, we stopped in at the seminary church; I have no idea what it was called.

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    Painted throughout in golds and whites with floral accents, it featured modern stained glass in matching opaque white and golds. It was light, full of nature and incredibly peaceful. Another favourite for the trip. One of the more interesting things were these awesome water colors for the stations of the cross. Not something you would ever imagine seeing in a modern church, yet more modern than any art I’ve ever seen in a church. It was a pretty cool vibe.

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    The Cattle Yard Baths or Forum Baths were built in 3rd & 4th Centuries. Rediscovered this century, they are completely enclosed under glass and building. As we wandered the labyrinth-like layout we traded off sharing the guide book trying to make heads or tails of the ruins. I will note several groups of tourists came and went while we were there. It’s a 18 century old structure rooted in history with architectural and engineering feats that we find hard to grasp to this day; its worth more than 10 minutes! Sigh.

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    Anyway about out third turn round, we finally got a feel for what we were seeing. I would love to see more models, because it truly is a mind boggling feat of engineering. And they — the Romans — did this everywhere they went.

    Upon leaving these baths, we headed east to the Kaiserthermen. On the way there the subject of Carmen’s ankles came up and we all got to wondering how they would go with bright red nail polish. Well the now familiar refrain, “What would Constantine the Great do?” was heard and we turned a corner and got our answer.

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    Soon we arrived. The Kaiserthermen are another set of baths started in the 4th century. However as Constantine moved his political base back east, they were never finished. But the foundations were used for many things including a fortress and, as a result, much more of the original works survived than in the Forum Baths. Underground tunnels and soaring arches all added to a unique experience. The only thing marring that visit was Carmen’s quip as I picked my way over the pointy remains of a wall that I should “be careful not to fall or I would ‘ruin’ my ass!” Ba dum, dum…

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    Well at this point it was slightly after 5 and someone pointed out we’d not had a single drink that day. So we headed to the place Carmen’s Piesport friend had recommended.

    It turns out at Waldendorffs across from the Dom (Cathedral) that there was a Zumba open air thingee going on. It was loud and had 50 or so women in exercise clothes jiggling around; so we stayed. The girls were out giving it their all, meanwhile the boyfriends drank beer and watched.

    I splurged on a 2005 M√ľlheimer Sonnenlay Auslese from Wiengut Bauer, M√ľlheim. It was an auselese so I knew it was going to be sweet, but Carmen was silly enough to say ‘boy’s choice’; so I did. Very fruity, but I liked the finish.

    Then the bells took on the Zumba and won. 15 minutes of ever increasing crescendos from the bell towers may not have entirely drowned out the 20th century amplifiers and speakers, but it definitely relegated it to the background. After our bottle (it was only 500 ml), we departed for quieter environs.

    Back at the basilica for a evening visit the light is playing across the space in entirely new ways. Columns are alight, window frames act as mirrors to the stained glass and the altar is awash in pure white light. It would worth it to spend a year here just learning how this building interacts with its environment.

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    Leslie’s back stiffened up while we sat so it’s taking a few moments for her to loosen up… in more ways than one: she won’t answer to Stiffy and still refused to acknowledge me even when I addressed her formally as Dr. Stiffy. Sheesh, talk about stiff-necked…

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    Anyway, back to the place we ate a few nights ago. We all had schnitzel of some sort, although mine was chicken breast. A couple of beers and we decided to call it a night. Tomorrow is either the Colosseum (something I’m am especially excited to see) or a day trip to Saarborgh; the morning will reveal all.

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    Day 17: Row, row, row your boat

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    This morning was full of change. Up earlier, we beat Carmen to breakfast, Leslie had chocolate cake with here chocolate-covered chocolate cereal, Carmen added ham and cheese to her salmon egg and I had jam instead of ham. Then we found out that my
    Mom and Carmen’s Mom have a date. No one knows why that makes us nervous, but for some reason it does.

    We packed up a couple of packs and headed to the taxi stand. A quick cab ride that was slightly less terrifying than normal and we were at the boat dock. The boat, the Traben-Trarbach, was there and ready to go so we boarded and snagged a pretty good spot on the stern upper deck, sheltered by the cabin. The Mosel is a working river and we passed several huge barges in the first few moments.

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    Last night the proprietor of the hotel had tries to talk us out of the trip. In bad English she tried to convince us it was a boring trip. We pointed out we were getting off halfway but that just made it worse apparently. But I am slowly brainwashing C Secondus (Carmen’s new name) and L Editrix to be water people and any boat is a good boat. We smiled, nodded and backed away slowly.

    Oh and by the way, we’ve booked our rooms here until Thursday. No point in moving on as we still have half the city to see and a whole region to explore.

    There are a lot of vineyards on the banks of the Mosel. A. Lot. Of. Vineyards. Carmen’s eyes have glazed over and even Leslie has to keep wiping the drool. It’s a sunny day and if we keep out of the wind, a wonderful way to see the valley.

    There’s only one lock on our leg of the trip at Detzem and it’s got a big barge in it as we approach so we moor to the pilings to wait. Once the barge is clear we are first in but we have to wait for another, larger, cruise ship and the two private cruisers following. From the looks of things this is a deep lock.

    Let us pause to discuss our traveling companions. We boarded at 9 am. I had a coffee, two tables back she had a glass of wine. At around 10, the couple across had their first round of beer. The table behind Leslie were on at least round two by 10:30 and the 16 year ok girl had downed her share of dad’s. We definitely aren’t in Kansas anymore.

    Back in the Mosel we are now first in a chain of boats but we are moving fast enough that we can stop for passengers without losing our place. Grapes, grapes and more grapes, with swans and villages thrown in for colour. How could this be boring?

    Upstream of K√ľsselrath there was one of the many semi-permanent holiday campsites we have seen, but this one had a trailer with a flagpole flying the Canadian flag.

    Coming up from behind, an Eiffel-fly.de mini copter snuck up on us. This is a two seat (not side by side) open air helicopter-like vehicle sort of like an ultra light but with no wings. I would love a ride!

    The boat got fuller and fuller at every stop and eventually we were sharing our seats: I hardly got claustrophobic at all. Eventually we arrived at Piesport and disembarked. It wasn’t the smoothest docking ever and I think the crewman didn’t realize we were getting off so he had started to cast off already.

    First things first. The Weinstube by the dock for a dink and a quick bite.

    Carmen & Bruce:
    Halbtrockene
    2011 Piesporter Falkenburg
    Reisling Qualitätsweun
    Weingut Joh. Haart

    2011 Piesporter Goldtröpfchen
    Riesling Spätlese feinherb
    Weingut Reuscher-Haart

    …and Leslie tried:
    Liebliche
    2011 Piesporter Goldtröpfchen
    Reisling Kabinett
    Weingut Reuscher-Haart

    Leslie & Carmen tried the potato soup that had more sausage than potato and I had a salmon and scallion flambé.

    Up and over the bridge and we headed for the tourist info place. It had closed at 12. We were so desolated we decided to go drink wine. We were pretty damn desolated. So the deal is you stop into a Weingut and they guilt you into drinking, then buying, some wine. It works pretty good, but they’re generous with their tastes… After acquiring a taste of 2010 Manfred Briet Piesporter Goldtr√∂pfchen Riesling Sp√§tlese feinherb we bought it and then added another from Kettern Matheus, this one from down the road (2011 Dhroner Hofberger Riesling Kabinett feinherb); then we hit a Weinstube called Lehnert-Veit on the river for some by the glass.

    The weinstubes here are all lined up on the river to attract cyclists. Almost makes me think there might be something to this cycle touring thing. The one we found ourselves at even had a dock for passing boats.

    C’s was a 2009 Piesporter Goldtr√∂pfchen Riesling No 1 dry, Leslie went for a 2010 Piesporter Goldtr√∂pfchen Riesling Sp√§tlese fruchtig and Bruce won out with his 2011 Piesporter Goldtr√∂pfchen Riesling Mineral fruchtig. The waitress obviously thought I was number one but eventually we got it sorted out and Carmen got her No1.

    We all tried everyone’s wine and I think we all agreed Les’s choice was the one to get. So we did. A bottle that is… The lovely lady at the counter made friends with Carmen and let us know the cool place to visit for wine in Trier and encouraged us to try Saarburg as a day trip.

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    For the first time this trip I was a bit disoriented and I assumed the bridge I could see from my chair was the one we had come over. It wasn’t. So we left the Weinstube a bit later than planned and only had 15 minutes to make our way back to the dock to meet the scheduled departure time. But since the boat was over an hour late arriving this morning, we weren’t that worried. At least Carmen wasn’t worried. I am always worried about being late.

    We hit the dock, which is more of a pontoon with a catwalk attached to the shore, about 4:20 for the 4:15 departure. So we sat in the shade and listened to the german-speaking kids jump in the river. But the sounds were odd for german. Huh, turned out they we’re English. Sounded more like German than Canadian.

    Ok… Boat’s in sight. So I’ll stop for a bit, but someday I might tell you about Poozy Kat, Little C and the Awesome Possum. Then again, maybe I won’t.

    The return trip included hang gliders, jet skis, water skiers — both advanced and beginner –, a beer for Bruce, a few seat changes, a 5 year old, very rambunctious and, at the end of the trip, very tired, a 3 way boat race and some beautiful light on the valley walls.

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    It looks like we’ll pull in around 8… Oops, it’s 7:45. Time to eat. We headed for the old quarter and turned in our customary circles until we found a traditional menu with some English translations so we knew what we were experimenting with. Carmen tried Rosti, I had schnitzel and Leslie had meatloaf. Some coffee and strudel afterwards and it was time for bed.

    Tomorrow we sleep in and hit the Karl Marx museum… I think. Maybe. We’ll see.

    Day 16: blogging hurts

    Well so as not to keep you in suspense… My ankles are just fine. Exemplary in fact. Everyone says so.

    Leslie’s back hurts though. Too much wine is my thought although she doesn’t agree. But it’s my blog, so wine it is. It could be the editing too. I hear that too much over-correction can put things out of alignment and she’s definitely been bugging me about the typos, auto-corrects and simply nonsensical sentences I’ve been postings. But I say “Pah!” What does she know, she’s so drunk all the time her back hurts!

    I do think the days at too full to document so I might try moving to point form or some such other clever literary device to convey substance at the expense of pithy prose. You all will just have to suffer along because, as I said, it’s my blog…

    Breakfast… Pretty much the same as yesterday but Carmen had some pineapple. Today looks to be more old quarter, although we a looking at a boat trip up the Mosel for tomorrow.

    Grocery: wine, beer and chocolate. Bottle recycling machine. Cool.

    Back in the Trier Cathedral of St Peter, we popped in for a moment as it was opening to get out of the cool air while we waited for the basilica to open. And I noticed one of the reasons that none of the cathedrals so far have compared to my favourite churches: sound. The aural experience of these structures is as much of the magnificence as the visual one. And no matter how many signs saying silence, nor how hard the tourists try, the ambient noise levels climb past the point of truly feeling the sound. With only a dozen of us in the space, the acoustics were now an integral part of the experience.

    You feel as well as hear each step, each breath, each clang of a door. As I sit and listen more and more people arrive and the moment slips away in whispers, rumbles and footsteps.

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    The Basilica of our Lady, built 1227-1260, is the earliest gothic church in Germany. The complex here has always had many buildings attached due to its role as seat of the government, thus the cathedral, basilica, cloisters and many administrative buildings are all attached. This structure is much more traditionally gothic without any of the romanesque elements in the cathedral and much more of a designed whole, lacking the piecemeal feel of its neighbor.
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    We arrived in time for the perfect morning light streaming through the eastern choir. Very few people and the aural and visual delight are stunning. One could just sit and breathe all day. And take pictures trying to capture the light…

    Soon enough though people arrive and the busy day of the basilica as a tourist destination begins.

    On the way to our next stop I stopped by an antiquities store. He was selling coins and after some waffling purchased a coin from the reign of Claudius: 41-54 AD. Only a bronze piece although he had a gold piece from Augustus (who founded the city). I now own something almost 2 millennia old… Gack!

    Constantine’s Basilica was actually Constantine the Great’s throne room. Post 300 AD, Trier was the western capital of the Roman empire and this structure was there to state his place in the order of the world.

    In 407 it was plundered by Franks after the Romans withdrew and it’s outlying buildings were integrated into new government buildings. But the Franks lacked the “ideological and political” will to rebuild the throne room and it remained without a roof.

    It was refurbished into a castle with battlements in the medieval period and served as the Archbishops residence beginning 13th century.

    Starting in 1614 it was partially torn down and one wall and the nave were integrated into a palace.

    In 1794 French revolutionary troops arrived and complex became barracks and hospital. They ‘donated’ the buildings to city of Trier to avoid maintenance costs. The Prussians arrived in 1814 and contunued to use the building for military use. In 1835 Trier gave the complex to Prussian Crown Prince Frederick William IV who later became King.

    The Romantics of the 19th century led by Frederick William reconstructed the throne room as The Protestant Church of the Redeemer. They created a monument to Prussian power with “its genesis in the imperial power of Constantine the Great”. It was opened as a church in 1856.

    Frederick William sought to strengthen the ties between religion and state and this project was one of his symbols; but this policy came with long term consequences when Germans faced the rise of Nazism.

    Burned In a firestorm on August 14, 1944, many Germans saw it not as a huge loss, but as a chance for redemption as the church both as an organization and a congregation in this building had not rejected the Nazi philosophies. After much debate it was rebuilt along the lines of the original throne room and rededicated 1956.

    2 walls remained with the original Roman brick as well as the subterranean heating systems. Awe inspiring and an example of what was lost in the ‘dark’ ages.

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    Extending from the east of the basilica extend the Imperial Palace and its formal gardens. Some kind soul had put leg warmers and headbands on some of the statues. The ducks floating in the pond, alas, had nothing to keep them warm, which led to conjecture and imitations of a duck wearing leg warmers doing the Maniac song. I got no applause, but a few stares and a giggle or two.

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    We passed through a gate in the medieval wall and stopped in to visit the Rheinisches Landesmuseum. This is essentially a museum of the history of the region surrounding Trier. This museum alone makes the visit here worthwhile.

    But, before we enter, I think I will take a moment and talk ankle. It seems that I had Carmen pegged all wrong. I’ve alway seen her ankles (seen in a metaphorical way…) as warriors. Major players but, in the end, not the bringers of civilization.

    I was wrong.

    Outside the Rheinisches Landesmuseum we all learned who Carmen’s ankle progenitor really was… Constantine I. Constantine the Great and Carmen the Editor share the exact same feet. From toe lengths to toe nails, Carmen’s foot matched the Big C’s foot in every way. It was freaky. Really, really freaky.

    So I guess I do have to revisit the relative value of Carmen’s ankles. Perhaps, in some small way, they even exceed my own. Constantine the Great, champion of Christianity, bringer of laws, founder of Constantinople… Such a legacy for such tiny ankles. Carmen. We salute your feet.

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    But back in the museum, we started with some Ice age bones and tools and some Bronze age artifacts. A couple of rooms later we moved into the Celts & Gauls. Not much of a civilization but they had some cool artifacts.

    Julius Caesar arrived in the area between 58 & 50 BC and soon it was a Roman province. There were awesome mosaics and lots of statuary and stone work. My favorite piece was a map of the known world on scroll about 25 feet long. Given that it was a scroll and only about 18″ high, fitting all of Europe and bits of Africa and Asia in, it was a work of art in itself. As soon as you got used to the odd structure forced on you by the dimensions, it was a fascinating work of cartography.

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    Lunch was in the museum cafe. Leslie had a curry soup you could smell before it hit the table, I had a baloney, pickle and cheese salad and whatever Carmen ordered is better off not being talked about. Isn’t German fun!

    After lunch it was Augustus and founding of Augustus Treverorum (ancient Trier) and more artifacts.

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    Eventually in 5th century, Rome had all but withdrawn from the region and the Franks moved in. At this point the city became a disorganized collection of inhabitants and all the great Roman works like the baths, colosseum, even the city walls crumbled.

    The founding of Hauptmarkt in 958 became nucleus of the new medieval city and the population began to grow.

    Later in the Middle Ages the city developed once again, rebuilding walls and churches and become an thriving economy once more.

    The next displays encompassed the 14th & 15th centuries bright rediscovery of classical ideas and the birth of humanism.

    Then the Reformation, finally taking hold after the end of the 30 Years War 1618-1648. From this period through the Baroque period until the French Revolution the city prospered as a centre of religion and commerce. But as the French Revolutionary Army invaded and effectively ended the Holy Roman Empire, Trier faded to just another Prussian Rhine town.

    It was, as I said, a stunning museum, and I would encourage any European travelers to make it a ‘must see’ in their list.

    Soon it was back to the tourism center. We booked a passenger boat ride as far as Piesport tomorrow. We will hop off and enjoy the town (and hopefully wine) and then hop back on as the boat passes on its return swing.

    We stopped at a wienstube and had a 3 wine sampler. Oddly enough, the sweet was one of my favorites.

    Afterwards we wandered back to the hotel to freshen up and then headed out to Kartoffel Kiste for meat, I mean dinner. A couple if beers later and we called it a night. Tomorrow is an early day.

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    Day 15: let that be a lesson to you

    This morning I woke up and considered my legs, specifically my ankles. My right ankle has a bite on it; one of many I collected on the boat. The left does not. Still, I think I prefer my right ankle, it has that je ne sais quoi that really makes an ankle worth mentioning. Really I don’t think any of my traveling companions has an ankle to compare.

    Take Leslie’s ankles. I’ve admired them for a long time, even wrote an ode or two dedicated to their curves and angles. Well, truth to be told, they were more like limericks than odes, but poetry is poetry. Anyway Leslie’s ankles are some of favorite ankles but they are not quite the Ulysses of ankles, not the hero type at all; much more a Diana or Dionysis… Beautiful but lacking the strength and power that makes an ankle great.

    They serve as the muse. To be elevated and exalted, to be admired and adored. To serve as a focal point for arts, wisdom, culture and all things of the mind.

    And we all know of Carmen’s ankles. Hidden, mysterious, shrouded in legend… yes, legendary is the perfect word. Definitely the Achilles of all ankles. I mean the stories we’ve heard, reaching back into antiquity, the battles fought and won, the scars and war wounds, the triumphs and tales. Carmen’s ankles are Legend.

    And not even as a pair: it’s as if each ankle was competing for more glory than the other, twins who are never at peace with their place, always striving to emerge in the higher place. These are warrior ankles through and through.

    But as I come back to my own ankles I am forced to admit they will never again inspire an ode; they will never again emerge victorious from battle. Their days of beauty and glory are behind them and the have survived and matured to grow into the statesman, the older, the wiser, the gray-tinged leader of ankles. Jupiter on the left, Zeus on the right, they rule over all other ankles; benign, radiating calm power, feared and admired yet rarely needing to prove their place.

    And, as we all know, the Greek pantheon holds precedence over the Roman as the Right ankle holds precedence over the Left. Nominally equal yet never in doubt which ankle rules them all. I have a pretty damned good right ankle

    Still and all I generally have the Grace and wit not to live my life enraptured by my own ankles’ glory. So on that humble thought, I think it is time to start my day and leave ankles behind. For now.

    Up, a shower and meet Carmen for breakfast. Continental, but I had scrambled eggs (done in butter) and it was nice to have something hot. Leslie had chocolate covered chocolate in a bowl and C opted for salmon over boiled egg.

    First up was St Antonius, a church built in the 1450s, bombed in 1944, rebuilt in 1950. A lovely little church with some awesome windows which dated from after the war. They had some before, after the bombing and after the restoration images. It makes you think of the complete tragedy which was seeing the church that has been a huge part of you life being broken and torn. It would almost be better if it was gone rather than violated and reduced. Then again, as far as I can tell, every church older than about 200 years has had that happen to it.

    We headed SW towards the river, checked out the Rathaus (town hall) and the Barbara baths. These are 2nd century ruins of roman baths: the fourth largest in the world. They are cordoned off at the moment as we gazed from afar. We hit the river without being killed by traffic and checked out the Roman bridge (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). The pilings also date from the 2nd century, although most of the structure is much later.

    Down the path alongside the river. There are more bike bells in Germany than in France so Carmen is happier. We passed a few Tariff buildings. Not sure if there exact purpose but they had giant gerbil treadmills inside that ran twin cranes reaching over the river. Very cool as long as I’m not the guy in the hamster wheel.

    We cut back towards town a couple of klicks down the Mosel and admired the ‘very old wall’. That’s all we knew about it. Very old. A wall. We then cut right and checked out Hieronymus Jaegen’s (1841-1919) crypt at St Paulus-Kirche. Most of the church was blocked off though donor was a short visit. Back towards the old district and we popped in next to the Porto Nigra. We stopped for lunch: Leslie actually had a different pizza. And by that I mean different: broccoli and garlic. As a pizza. Blech. I went for a traditional German favorite: the Hawaii while C had her way with a meat-stuffed cannelloni.

    Off to Porto Nigra. This old Roman gate dates from the founding of the Roman city as fa back as 16 BC but mostly built in the 2nd Century. It has gone through various rebuildings and integration into Christian edifices of all sorts. Eventually Emperor Napoleon authorizes the discomboobulation of all the church nonsense and the Roman gate was revealed again.

    I noted that the Imperial Roman urge to magnificence has completely differently motivation than the Christian motivations of the middle ages. They both taxed the peasants to build, but the Romans did it just because they good, to the everlasting glory of Rome. The church always built for something outside themselves. I have my own opinions which motivation is more ‘noble’.

    It’s 9:55 and I’m only at lunch. Not sure I’m going to get today done. Definitely no pictures.

    Anyway, we next wandered down to the Trier Cathedral; the seat of secular and religious power for the region. Their most holy relic is a shirt made from whole cloth. I.E. Jesus’ shirt. It’s a magnificent place with roots reaching back to the 4th century. I remember when 1100 was old, two European trips ago.

    I shelled out 1.50 euro to see their treasury while L & C skipped it (they had a bad experience at Notre Dame in Paris). About 5 minutes in I excused myself and went and got them. It was the illuminated MS from 1100 that did it. Bishopric rings dating to 900, five different manuscripts from 1100-1200, relics and reliquaries spanning 1000 years. But it was the books that did it. One was open to an illuminated page…

    Sigh.

    The cloisters were under renovation, so we skipped around but it was coming on 4:30 and we had tickets for Booze School 2: Mosel.

    The booze wagon showed up and loaded us for a trip to G.F. Von Nell Weinstube and Weingut. (http://www.vonnell.de). Napoleon sold this land to the von Nell family in 1803: it had been the property of the Cloister St Mattias. Apparently the churches suffered a lot under his rule. Over 80 hectares but only 4 or 5 hectares are on flat land. The rest is steep slopes. They grow 85% Riesling and 5% Pinot Blanc with a smattering of Pinot Noir and some other whites. It’s almost all hand work and a family business. Our bus driver turned out to be owner and patriarch Georg and his wife Evi was hostess later during the tasting.

    Georg took us on a tour and we learned some things about local wines Like the leftover skins make schnapps. Abf√ľllung means dealer wine; not grown or made by a grower. Don’t buy it. With the addition of sulphites, they have Rieslings since stored since 1959. Mosel wine is characteristically yellow with a little green. The more yellow is better quality.

    We tried 6 wines including a Rosé made from the Black Riesling grape. Anyway there were only 7 of us on the tour and the another 4 wanted to eat so we stayed. We had a German version of the Tarte flambé and a 2011 Riesling Spätlese. The entire evening was slow and easy and while we drank a lot of wine it digested slowly over the course of the evening.

    We bought two bottles for home and Georg drove us straight back to the hotel at 9:30 as the light disappeared. It needs to be said that this was a family business and while it serviced tourists, it was more like visiting someone’s house. A bit of snarking, some eye rolling and casual muttering to themselves, there was nothing polished about the experience. Just friendly, filling and fun.

    Back at the hotel we popped two doors down to the Das Weinhaus for a nightcap. I tried a piesporter, Leslie had a Riesling and Carmen chickened out and had a cappuccino.

    24 hours ago we woke up in France, visited Luxembourg and slept in Germany. Now I’m a german wine expert and Leslie is ordering my booze like a native. Huh.

    Day 14: let the Comedy Begin Again

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    After I posted yesterday’s entry we convinced Leslie to read all the blog entries to date. She’s a great reader and it was nice to look back and take stock. Apparently there are some quibbles about the strict veracity if some of the information, but there will always be those who don’t see as clearly. Speaking of which, we finished last night with a bit of a star gaze. Another spectacular night.

    Morning started abut earlier than usual. But, as usual, it didn’t help. Some coffee, some baguette-butter-jam and I was good to go. I grabbed a shower, zipped up my bag and did the dishes. Then I hauled some garbage and generally putzed while I waited. Eventually I gathered the crew for the traditional post trip booze shot. There were 22 bottles lined up with a dozen beer and a six pack of cider. Considering we missed at least one night of drinking and drank in restaurants several times, it’s not a bad average.

    We hauled the bottles away and offloaded our luggage. I checked out and asked the nice gentleman to call a cab for us. He did. 4 times. 2 were on holidays, 1 was broken down, and one wasn’t anywhere to be found. Eventually he gave up and offered to drive us himself. After he finished up with the outgoing boat. We had plenty of time. Really. No worry.

    Right about the time, we had decided the leaving should take place we left. After he ran back in for something he forgot. Twice. It was a nice trip and our host was chatty about the area. Great vocabulary if a slightly idiomatic structure. Still I imagine I sound a lot worse and have 1/4 the vocabulary.

    He dropped us off at the gare and while Leslie and I headed to buy tickets, Carmen headed to the pharmacy to pick up a new tensor. If you want to know the definition of groady, I have a great example for you.

    The ticket line was slow and slower. I started getting antsy again. Eventually our turn came and we got some tickets for trains as far as Luxembourg. Apparently while can book it all at once online, the ticket agents couldn’t book the train outside of France.

    Carmen rejoined the pack about thus time We headed up to platform four based on the assumption we were going through Metz. According to the tickets we were booked to Bettembourg Front. Wherever that was. Whenever. No train number, no transfers nothing. Sigh. So, given the fact we had a spare 15 minutes before we had to decide anything we grabbed a conductor and made him submit to the question. He didn’t seem to be that much more confident than us so he called and asked. Yup, we were good.

    Carmen and Leslie headed off to post some postcards and we boarded the TER on time. And we got seats.

    Somewhere in there carmen related the tale of the Four Way Ankle Fondle. Seems that French pharmacies don’t do tensors… Pah! The pharmacist listen carefully to Carmen’s request and looking horrified at the state of her current bandage, whisked (or was that lured) her into the back and called in his minions. At this point the details are sketchy. It involves 4 people, an ankle, a tape measure, lots of groping and not a little bit of arguing. You probably don’t want any more details. Anyway she got this lovely royal blue thing for only 50 euros out of the deal and all parties were minimally satisfied.

    Trains are a cool way to travel, and you sure get places fast. We’ve got good seats again on the Metz Luxembourg leg and the trip was over in a nonce.

    In Luxembourg we booked open tickets to Trier and got a schedule of departures. Then we turned our bags over to the lockup guy and hit the bathroom. It’s one of those pay ones: .60 Euros to stand up, 1.20 to sit down.
    Ha ha, I’m a boy.

    We wandered out of the train station and thought we’d eat first. We found lots of ‘night clubs’ and/or strip joints. Oh and a head shop with an awesome hydroponic basil over 4 ft high. Oh and a couple of pot plants. So… Sex and drugs in Luxembourg; sort of a mini Amsterdam I guess. Lunch was a pizza shop. Leslie had Napolitano, which is actually just a Napoli spelled differently. I had calzone and Carmen had a Salade Nicoise. They called it a salad but between the potato, peppers, tuna, eggs and assorted other bizarre ingredients, it was 20 minutes before we saw green. She found one anchovy and as Leslie’s pizza was getting low I told her to Fish around in her salad for more. Get it? ‘Fish’ around in the salad… For an anchovy… Which is a fish… {snicker}.

    Afterwards we headed north randomly which fortuitously was toward the old quarter. We passes over a grand old bridge, saw some fortifications and turned back for the station to catch the 4:20.

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    It seems as though the bus system might be private here. There are many, many buses of different shapes and sizes. When I get some wifi I will google Voyages Emile Weber which was one of the bigger companies. Back to the station, grab our bags and head to gate 10 just before our ride rolled in. Then it’s a ride on the CFL to Trier and Germany and German wines. Woohoo.

    The trip into the Mosel is quite beautiful and the architecture of homes and churches different once again. We pulled into Trier bahnhof pretty much right on time, but given the way they say Trier as one syllable and follow it with a lot of other incomprehensible syllables, we asked just be sure.

    Off the train, out into the station and quickly on to a cab. The can rides are getting crazier and we are starting to wonder how there aren’t millions of dead pedestrians each year. I guess the people learn. The young gentle at the desk at Hotel Kessler was a real joy. Really seemed happy with his job and seemed to want us to have a good time. We checked in, cleaned up briefly and headed out to see if we could catch the tourism office before it closed. We didn’t.

    Our hotel is in one corner of the old quarter and the info office was in the other. Thus we had to traverse the whole quarter to get there. There are going to be some amazing things to see in the next couple of days. The info office sits in the shadow of the Porto Nigra, a 2nd century roman gate. It was closed but we grabbed a few pics.

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    Afterwards we had a few beers and some tapas and watched the locals tango in the street.

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    Time to head home so we slowly ambled back towards the hotel. An ice cream place caught our eye so we stopped for some dessert crepes (although Leslie opted for an After Eight Sundae) that were simply delicious. Up again and back to the room to finish the night with a quick shower and some blog updating.

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