Our last day in the Rhineland brought choices. Would we stay on the Rick Steve’s path of retirement-level excitement exploring yet another 4 star castle sure to be packed full of tourists? Or would we deviate and head far west to a town I had read about in archeology papers. Despite an extra hour of train rides each way plus transfer overhead, we opted for the latter and made our way to Trier with an unexpected stop in Cochem on the way home.
Trier is about as far West as on can go in Germany before hitting France.. or rather, Luxembourg. Man, I really wanted to extend the train trip just a little while longer to see if I could have collected another passport stamp! The purpose wasn’t to retire that document early but to see the oldest city in Germany founded by an Assyrian of all people around 2000 BC. With Trier having a massive Roman presence (starting around 16 BC) as well as being holding the only Bishop north of the Alps. You can read more depth about that history later. Let me tell you what we did.
Disembarking from the train station we followed Theodor Hess street (I know, so closely named!) to Porta Nigra – an enormous Roman edifice acting as a gate to the city. After taking a few beautiful pictures despite approaching rain clouds we continued into the main square. There’s a great story about Protestant vs Catholic “my church is better than your church” shenanigans here and each tried to out do the other. Neat reading. For us it meant great historical scavenger hunting as we identified this and that while doing the typical people watching that is expected in any European square.
We also visited the Cathedral of Trier, the Palace (or the outside grounds at least, and the long throne room of Emperor Constantine known as the Bascillica Constatine which was more historically impressive than the other two if not far less visually so.
For reasons unknown – whimsy, reading INcomprehension, or momentary insanity, we decided to travel to the riverside. I believe we thought we’d find some kind of Roman bridge there. Not so. After a 40 minute walk through what was a very lively small city we came to….nothing! Just traffic and a unremarkable river (the end of which we had seen in Koblenz.) Disappointed we made the long, winding walk back.
Before leaving this neat little city we of course had to eat. The remarkable part of this was that we didn’t eat German food. We were both pretty burnt out on schnitzel and sausage and the Turkish pitas we found tasted wonderful! Even the little bit of veggies on the sandwiches seemed extravagant compared to the lack in the cuisine of the previous week.
We had expected to spend a lot more time in Trier so when we saw Cochem coming up on our train ride home we figured – why not stop in?! Here’s a pic on wikipedia. It was late in the day so a whirlwind tour it was. We plowed through tourist stalls, blended into crowds, did some souvenir shopping and ran up and down the winding, hillside medieval roads. While it was too late and too dark to visit the castle of Cochem, there was of course time to sit in the square, grab a few beers, and simply enjoy the moment.
We took the last train out that would allow us to connect in Koblenz for the last ride to our hotel Bacharach. We would be rising early the next day to catch trains to the airport for Jen and to Munich for myself. What a trip!