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Trier and the Moselle Valley

July 8-11

Written July 15

Dear Friends and Family,


I am splitting the story from the pictures because many people really don't want to read the story -- and that's OK! And there is a separate "Links" section, since we sometimes need refreshers ourselves and it is convenient. Here goes.


Our first "European" trip this year was to Trier, on the far western side of Germany. Nancy and Steve, friends of ours who normally live in Northern Virginia, has been staying in Belgium and Trier seemed like a convenient midway point for us. For us, it meant a few hours by car and for them the same time on trains. On the journeys, we got to see some new countryside and they got to read and have wine and cheese. I think I like their option better.

Trier is the oldest city in Germany, having been founded by the Romans in 15 BC and the major tourist theme of the place is exactly that: everything Roman. Our hotel was directly across from the old city wall gate, a sandstone construction that had blackened over the ages until it was called Porta Nigra, Black Gate.

Much of our stay was simply wandering around the center of town looking at crowds and old buildings. And talking. Nancy and Marianne can talk continuously and we all enjoyed sharing stories of overseas life. Steve had recently "semi" retired from the US government and he had spent his career going to places where most of us never will venture from Africa to Afghanistan. Over the past dozen years we have heard many of his stories, but he always manages to find a few new ones.

Trier tourism. Our first museum was not Roman but rather was Karl Marx's house ( "Haus" locally.) In the old Cold War days, Americans were taught that Marx was a evil soul who provided guidance to the Russian Revolution and the evils of communism. It's easy to forget that he never made it to Russia and lived decades before the 1917 uprising. It may be more fair to say Marx and his contemporaries provided the socialist basis for modern Europe than for the aberration that was communist rule in the Soviet Union. So, old Karl may not have been so bad. (That's why we bought our Republican son-in-law something from the gift shop.)

After that, we did a bus tour and a boat tour, both easy ways to get a feel for a new place. The bus drove us past the old Roman baths and coliseum and huge brick assembly hall, now a church basilica. On our first evening, we went down to the Moselle riverfront and found it filled with mostly young people enjoying a summer festival of some sort. The crowds were large enough to be intimidating, or at least not attractive to folks of our vintage. Germany does like summer street festivals and a wine region like the Moselle is certainly no exception. Great, if that's your thing.

Other than that, we did some "regular" history museums (see pictures) and had some pleasant dining, outdoors when it was warm enough. In the "Landesmuseum", (local history museum), we enjoyed an impressive lighting show among the museum's basement display of ornate Roman grave stones. While we certainly missed some of the historic meaning due to language difficulties (German, not Latin), the show was most impressive in both its technology and imagination. The technique of moving lights brought the cold stone monuments to life. We highly recommend the show.

On Sunday at mid day we sent Nancy and Steve off to the train station and we got back in our car for a short drive down the Moselle Valley. We still had an extra day before I needed to report to work on Tuesday and we planned to just find a place in the wine region and sample local fare. That is what we did, but in doing it we noted that the Moselle Valley is really pretty long, with quaint villages every mile or so. The drive is long and slow, but the pace fit our plans. Another recommendation.

Monday was a slow start, a mid-day break for coffee and cake, and the cross-country drive back to Frankfurt. All good. All slow. All at the pace we like to travel.

So, do look through our pictures if you want and click on some of the links below to get a more complete story of the history of ancient Trier. And, take a lazy trip down a river near you.


John and Marianne



Market Square
Porta Nigra Square
Bus Ride
Secret to old books.
Boat ride on the Moselle
Karl-Marx Haus Museum
City Museum, From 1st Century masks through 19th Century clothes
A fair amount of misery too, from ID cards from Holocaust victims through Trier models, before and after WWII bombing

Porta Nigra - Black Gate
I tried fancy HDR pictures, but not great results.

Overview of Dom (Cathedral) and up close.
Roman assembly hall, now a stern church. Note old Roman layered brick and stone construction. Bath ruins on the right.
Not all buildings were Roman. These date from the Middle Ages. The ornate City Hall on the left. The house on the right is famous because the original entrance was the "window" on the right. Security concerns led to an entrance only via a lowered laddered.
Only a single picture from our trip out via the Moselle Valley. I think we just wanted to look and remember.




Trier City Website (Click British flag for English.)

Rheinisches Landmuseum shadow show (German, but it's a visual thing anyway.)

Karl Marx House

City Museum (by Black Gate) (German and French only. Strange.)

Hotel Roemischer Kaiser (German only -- yet many of the guests were non-German speaking)





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