Yesterday we left Essen for Trier. On the way we thought we might stop in Köln (Cologne) for a few hours to buy a German Rail Pass and check out the Dom (cathedral).
Inside the Köln railway station there are these things - luggage teleporters. You put your luggage inside and it's beamed up to one of 17 orbiting storage stations. Later, you simply initiate a retrieval program and your luggage is beamed back down to you in 40 seconds or less. These Germans have everything sorted.
Then it's literally outside to look at the cathedral. They started building this in 1248 and didn't finish it until 1880. Perhaps the latest building project in European history? The locals call it Dauerbaustelle which translates "the eternal construction site".
It's very gothic.
Inside it has a very welcoming atmosphere and some lovely stained glass windows.
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P and I firmly believe that one ought to climb things. Although we were only in Köln for a few hours, we knew we wouldn't feel complete until we'd climbed the tower. On the way we met St. Peter's Bell, the largest free-swinging bell in the known Universe. It weighs over 24 tons!
More construction? Once again, I have yet to see a major European monument without scaffolding on it somewhere.
Looking down on the Rhein.
We would have liked to have spent more than a couple of hours in Köln but one can only see and do a limited amount - so maybe next time.
We continued to Trier on a very slow train and arrived in the dark. We went out to eat at a local restaurant. We ordered something called Pizzasalat. It's a pizza with a huge salad dumped on top. Another tick for "Things To Do In Europe" I guess. I won't be surprised to see Pizzacereal at some stage.
This morning we headed out to explore. Trier is supposedly Germany's oldest town - it's an old Roman town on the banks of the Mosel (Moselle) River.
This is the Porta Nigra (Black Gate) - the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps (thanks Wikipedia).
It's autumn in Germany. The trees are displaying a magnificent range of colours and fallen leaves litter the ground almost everywhere. It's cool but not unpleasant unless you're outdoors and naked.
This afternoon we took a boat trip on the Mosel River. It's a very relaxing cruise (i.e. a bit dull) but it's also very picturesque and pleasant.
This is where tumbleweeds come from.
This photo is especially for Matt who requested it. I think this is a really good photo of P in her beanie, so it might be worth salvaging with Photoshop.
Why build a wharf when you can simply take it with you?
A lot of international shipping traffic uses the Mosel. Here's a boatload of licorice pieces destined for France.
They bring their cars with them for the drive home.
There are even vineyards right alongside the river. The grapes ripen on the vine and naturally fall onto the slopes, where they roll down into the river. The floating grapes are collected by specially designed hovercraft that suck rather than blow. They've been doing this since Roman times.
I don't know if you can tell but this is Eric Clapton with his guitar and a bongo drum.
Tomorrow we're going to hire a couple of bicycles and ride along the Saar river. After that we haven't really worked out where we want to go yet. We are thinking about taking a day cruise between Koblenz and Mainz (although P has just this minute discovered today was the last day of the season) and then spending a few days in the Black Forest region before heading to München and then finally Berlin.
We've been on the road now for six weeks - hard to imagine coming back to work to be honest! Thanks to everyone who takes the time to read this blog. A special thank you to those that leave a comment or send us an email. It's really encouraging to know that people are following our adventures back home. We hope that you are all well and looking after yourselves! :)