Day 11 – Bernkastel
On the Mosel River, 350 km navigable. One of the most northern grape growing regions – 9200 hectares on hills as steep as 68 deg! Riesling and some Elbling. Polish and Roumanian workers at harvest time. Bernkastel, 9000 residents, 2 million day tourists/yr. St. Michael’s Church Tower dominates. Big wine festival in September. Linden tree-lined streets, vineyards in the distance and ancient castle above. We walk through the town and see a 600 year old house in mint condition.
Vinothek – wine sampling hall. We sample over 160 types of Mosel wine. By 11 AM we have had a bottle each – and it feels perfectly normal!! We stop to kiss on the bridge and a truck driver waves. After shopping and lunch we go for a bike ride along the river over a bridge and back the other side. Then some more shopping and a hot tub. It has been a great day.
We sit down to dinner with Steve Madely (retired CFRA announcer) who is sponsoring the group, Lisa his partner and Betty and Glenn. We chat and find out Steve’s wife Gail passed a few years back. Now he and Lisa sponsor group travel tours and have a growing family of followers. 34 repeats on this trip. They are great hosts and get around to talk and eat with everyone. We finish with some German, Scottish and Irish folk music. We are all German, Scottish and Irish!!
Day 11 – Trier
We dock on the Luxemburg side of the Mosel in Grevenmacher. We learn that climate change – warmer temps are putting the Riesling grape at risk. Lux is the world’s richest country per capita. We take the Trier tour rather than the optional Luxemburg excursion. Trier is Germany’s oldest city founded by the Romans in 17 BC. Julius Caesar was here with his troops. Then the Frank’s, then the Bishops. 110K inhabitants. Karl Marx born here.
3 Major Roman baths, amphitheatre, sports ground, barracks, 4th century church, huge restored reception hall. Slaves tended to the baths working underground. All Roman citizens were welcome at the baths for relaxation. Many former convents and monasteries are now functioning as student or seniors residences. Porta Nigra (north) ancient Roman entrance to the city used for defence. We see the way of St James plaque and scallop shell symbol above a door. Trier is on a route to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.
The Holy Robe relic (cloak) that Jesus wore before his crucifixion, is reputed to be in St. Peter’s Cathedral, thanks to Constantine’s mother Helena. We enter through the Holy Door with intention and marvel at the huge romanesque structure inside. It feels like home after the many cultural excursions we have been on this week.
We skip the optional excursion to Luxemburg city. We have a hot tub and soak up some sun. As we prepare to say goodbye to Germany it is with many fond memories, good feelings, laughs, photos and sore feet!