Too much Glühwein? No, just a singing Reindeer.
This final week I’ve been lucky to have company in form of Dom and have made the most of no lessons at school and the time off to do a spot of travelling. Having seen most of Nordrhein-Westfalen already, we decided to be adventurous and jump aboard the train in the direction of Trier in Rheinland-Pfalz, a city that sits on the bank of the Moselle river and is surrounded by a famous wine region. My parents inform me I went there a few times when I was small but having absolutely no recollection of this and having heard many nice things about the former Roman town, I decided it was time to return and see the town through my ‘older’ eyes.
Trier is about a three and a half hour train ride from Düsseldorf by RE (Regional Express) and we went through some very scenic areas along the way. As soon as we left Köln, we travelled through the countryside and many forests where you could see the thick frost and puddles of ice. It was a pretty long journey, and a distance that I wouldn’t have considered travelling for a day trip if at home but you know, that’s all part of the Year Abroad lifestyle! The scenery out of the windows was so picturesque and I felt like such a tourist pointing out all the castles, icy puddles and interesting features along the way, I’m sure the locals or regulars on the particular train service loved my running commentary (though they did get a brief period of quiet whilst I enjoyed a short nap!)
Finally at around lunchtime the train pulled into Trier Hauptbahnhof. Dom and I had picnic-ed on the train already so were fueled up for the exploration ahead. From prior research I discovered that Trier is argued to be Germany’s oldest city, going back as far as 16BC and scattered throughout the city are reminders of these ancient times. It was a short walk from the Hauptbahnhof (Main Station) to the start of the Altstadt (Old town), marked by the so-called Porta Nigra, or ‘Black Gate’.
Past the Porta Nigra, the main street of the Altstadt begins and we slowly made our way down it, dodging the rather large crowds of school groups or tours, and after a while found ourselves in the Hauptmarkt (Main Square). The buildings certainly differ from those around Düsseldorf, with timber work and brighter colours.
The Hauptmarkt was packed out with Christmas market stalls as well as a lot of people!
From the Hauptmarkt we walked further down through the Altstadt, along Fleischstrasse (Meat Street) in the direction of the Kornmarkt (Corn Market). From here we diverted off, past Karl Marx’s house in search of the River which we soon found after walking down this cute little street..
As well as finding the Moselle, we also found another of Trier’s ‘attractions’ – the Alter Krahnen (Old Crane) and a little further up the path, the Alter Zollkrahn (Old Customs Crane).
Not forgetting the 2nd century Roman bridge, Römerbrücke, across the Moselle, apparently the oldest bridge north of the Alps still used by traffic.. fascinating eh?! (Obviously has had a bit of work done though..)
After our short stroll along the river, we went in search of the Barbara Thermen (Roman Baths), which we found, and further up the same road we found the more intact Kaiserthermen.
From the Roman Bath ruins we began a slight climb up the hill towards the vineyards in order to get to the Amphitheater ruins. For a mere 2 euros we were able to look around.
As the day was being to draw in, we left the Amphitheater and walked back towards the town, walking through the Palastgarten (Palace Garden) passing the Kurfürstliches Palais (Electoral Palace) which was a beautiful, pink and gold, Rococo style Palace set in pretty gardens with a multitude of statues and little ponds. One pond we found was frozen over and we spent some time marvelling the slabs of ice, don’t see such exciting things every day back at home!
At the back of the Palace we also came across the Konstantin Basilika, a prior throne hall for a Roman Emperor..
Our last ‘sightseeing’ stop of the day was the area of the Cathedral (Dom) and the Liebfrauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) which were both incredibly beautiful and impressive.
The surrounding area was adorned with Christmas decorations and yet more Christmas market stalls., one with a particularly strange attraction – a singing reindeer (see next post). I feel sorry for anyone who maybe had a little too much mulled wine.. they would think they had gone crazy!
Finally, after one more ‘sweep’ around the Altstadt and with the evening beginning to descent on us, we decided to call it a day, bid Trier farewell and make our way back to Düsseldorf along the Moselle. All in all, a good day’s exploring!