December 4 - Gladiator

We each woke up around 08:00, after about 10 hours of sleep, so that was nice.  Overnight we’d each had some crazy dreams, which was less nice.  We weren’t in any real hurry to get up and do much, since we knew there was not a ton to do in Trier, and we’d have all day.  We decided against Luxembourg, as nothing jumped off the table at us and we didn’t want to run the risk of any hassles.  While we were thinking about it, we fixed our Belgium locator form, since now we knew we’d be coming from Germany by train instead of from Austria by air.

We checked out the Trier city website, which was surprisingly thorough (and objective) in describing all of the various sites.  It was nice to see that for some of the places, the website was lukewarm.  So for the ones that were highly recommended, that stood out more.  Based on that, we formulated a plan for the day, starting with the Rhine museum, then the old Roman bridge, then some other stuff.

The Rhine museum was not far from our place, basically just on the other side of the main road going through town.  They checked our vaccine card on the way in, but that (and wearing a mask) were the only extra requirements.  Shortly after walking in, we saw some mummies (apparently this became more frequent for “commoners” during Roman times), lots of old pots, ceramics, metal objects, studs for shoes, and much more.  There were way more Roman ruins than we expected to see.  While the museum is in Trier, and includes a lot of material gathered from Trier, the museum houses artifacts from all over the German area of the Roman period.  

We thought back to the beginning of the movie Gladiator, where the main character was a Roman general fighting in Germany; well, we were looking at the real-life artifacts of people like that, and during that time.  There were several mostly-intact Roman columns and sculptures, some  enormous mosaics, a couple of them essentially complete.  With all of this incredible material in the museum, there couldn’t have been more than 5-10 other guests, total.  We were there for about 90 minutes, which is a pretty long time for us to be in a museum and not get bored.  Far from being bored, we were wowed, especially relative to the mediocre expectations we had.

Our next stop was the forum baths, some Roman baths dating back to the first century AD.  They weren’t found until 1987, when people were digging for a car park.  The outside of the baths wasn’t what we expected; it was a large glass building.  But inside, we descended down some stairs to the baths.  Some of the ruins were easy to imagine as they were, whereas other parts required some more imagination.  But either way, it is kind of incredible knowing that cities with giant walls, gates, bridges, etc. were built almost 2000 years ago.

Right by the forum baths was a Mexican restaurant, which we were surprised to see.  From the forum baths, we walked a block or two over to the Karl Marx house.  When he was young, he lived in Trier, and similar to the Mozart houses we’d seen in Salzburg, the house is now a museum.  We didn’t go inside, just checked it out from the outside.  Next door was a store, so we went in and bought some shampoo and conditioner.  We’d be able to take this with us until leaving Paris, as everything between Trier and Paris was via train.  We walked west to the Moselle River, where there is a bridge dating back to Roman times.  Best as we could tell, we walked through Trier’s red light district, none of which was open mid-day.  

The Roman Bridge was originally built in 17 BC, but the current stone pylons were put in well later, in 144 AD.  This bridge is, unsurprisingly, the oldest bridge in Germany.  It looked in great shape to us, and in fact cars go across the bridge now.  Not far from the bridge, along the riverbank, was an odd looking building.  We couldn’t figure out what it was, but doing some research later, we determined it is one of the oldest cranes in the world.  It would get used to load and unload materials from boats on the Moselle River.

We went back into town and looked for somewhere to eat lunch.  We tried the Mexican place, but they said our vaccination wasn’t enough, that we needed a negative test as well.  We ended up at a Kebap shop (Derwisch), where they were at first not going to allow us either, but then they saw we had three shots, not two.  They said with three, we didn’t need a negative test.  We enjoyed some Turkish food, and some warmth, for a leisurely lunch.  After lunch we walked through the small parts of Old Town that we hadn’t seen yet, and took photos of some of the statues and of Porta Nigra (again).  We got some gluehwein right near the city square, and enjoyed a patch or two of blue sky.  We also went to a store that had a ton of masks, and got a couple more comfortable “medical” masks that weren’t full-on FFP or N95.  One set had drawings of bulldogs or pugs on it.

We went back to the Airbnb to relax for a bit before heading out for dinner.  We looked up things to do in Cologne, where we’d be tomorrow, so we wouldn’t be repeating Trier by showing up and only then figuring out what to do.  As part of this, we read about “2g plus” regulations that had just gone into effect that very day.  This explained why yesterday our vaccination card was fine, but today, there was the check for either a negative test and/or a booster shot.  So we learned how to say in German that we had three shots.

For dinner, we went to Wirsthaus Zur Glocke, and Crystal told them we had a reservation.  We showed the three shots, and everything was all good.  We went downstairs into the wine cellar room, which was pretty interesting.  We both got soup as an appetizer.  Crystal got wine, and Justin got a gin and tonic.  For our mains, Crystal got roast pork, and Justin got veal cordon bleu.  We got some schnapps at the end.  After dinner, we wandered around looking for a bar we’d seen the night before, and eventually found it.  

The name was Kolibri, and it looked like a locals’ bar.  We had no idea what to expect, but it was as we hoped.  The proprietor didn’t speak a lick of English, so fortunately we (Crystal) knew enough to order stuff.  There were 1980s tunes on the stereo.  Aside from the cloud of smoke, this bar was awesome.  We started coughing, and hoped it was from the smoke instead of Covid.  We stayed for 3 or 4 rounds, and had a great time, and all told we didn’t owe much more than 20 Euros.  Yes, we had to spray our clothes with perfume when we got back to the Airbnb, but aside from that, it was a successful attempt to live (and drink) like a local for one night.

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