Our very first military hop to Europe! Part 3… places we saw part 2
May 29, 2012 (Updated May 30, 2012)
The Bottom Line Luxembourg is more interesting than it seems…
Early Thursday morning, Bill and I had a flight back to Cologne. At that point, we were still trying to figure out where we wanted to go next. I was thinking we’d like to go to the Rhine region. In 1997, I had spent a couple of nights in Bacharach, Germany, which I remembered as an adorable little town right on the river. But I also remembered there wasn’t a whole lot to the town. We finally decided we’d go to Trier, a town very close to the Luxembourg border. Luxembourg is very close to France and Belgium; Bill and I went there for my birthday in 2009. Trier also boasts the Porta Nigra (Black Gate), an ancient Roman gate that was built between 186 and 200 A.D.
I checked us into the Mercure, a chain hotel located directly across the street from the Porta Nigra. I was immediately happy about the price, which was much cheaper than the Kempinski. We took a train from the Cologne-Bonn airport to the main train station in Cologne. On the way there, a group of teenagers got on the train together. Just before they boarded, a couple of undercover ticket inspectors checked everyone’s tickets. Upon realizing that Bill and I are Americans, one of the inspectors exclaimed “Thank you! Americans!” Just what we needed. When he commented that other Americans had also been onboard, I dryly said “I don’t doubt it”, which made him laugh for some reason.
The inspectors were still in our car when the group of teens came onboard. One of the teens, a tall, dark-haired girl with bangs and a brazen attitude, seemed to be in charge of everything. She was the one who spoke first when the undercover ticket inspector busted them. The loudmouth inspector pounced on them, saying “Hallo! Fahrkarten bitte!”
Bill and I looked around and though neither of us is anywhere near fluent in German, we got the gist of what was going on. I chuckled as I noticed that all the folks were smelling the same BS we were smelling as the tall teen and her friends tried to talk their way out of trouble and failed miserably. We got off at the main station, along with the teens and the inspectors who had busted them. We had to wait about forty minutes for our train to Trier and those kids were still on the platform waiting when we left.
While we were waiting for our train, I noticed a handsome, well-built, dark haired guy standing nearby. He had a lot of gear, including a hat. I happened to peek when he opened his wallet and saw that he was a cop. The cop was wearing shorts and it looked like he had shaved his legs. He smiled broadly at me as I fussed with Bill, whose eyebrows had become unkempt.
The train to Trier was hot and crowded. We opened the windows and settled in for a long ride to the old city. Some of the places we passed looked very appealing. I almost wished we didn’t have a hotel reservation so we could get off! I was especially impressed by Gerolstein, a town that boasts some fabulous fizzy mineral water.
When we got to the hotel, Bill and I changed clothes. It had suddenly gotten very hot. We walked around Trier, enjoying the sight of the massive Roman gate. I imagine you can climb it if you want to, but I didn’t have the desire to. It was sad to see that some folks felt the gate was a good place to stash their trash.
On Friday, we got a train to Luxembourg. We had been there before and I didn’t remember thinking it was fabulous. Luxembourg is a beautiful country, but we made the mistake of staying in a hotel in the business and government district. Since we were coming for a day trip, we wandered around the center and ended up getting lunch at a nice restaurant by the center square.
A group of high school students from a town fifty kilometers from Munich had set up to play music in a gazebo. Bill and I happened to be there just in time for a three course meal which included wine, coffee, and a champagne apertif. We enjoyed the music, which was pretty good considering it mostly came from high school students. There was also a large, very drunk man careening around the area with a big can of beer in his hand. He had misbuttoned his shirt and looked like he’d been drinking for hours. Nevertheless, he seemed to be enjoying himself, talking to people in the crowd, dancing and conducting to the music, and generally just being a fool. He was as entertaining as the musicians were.
We went back to Trier for dinner at a Greek restaurant. I had been pining away for Greek food since we left Germany. I had dorada and Bill had gyros. Of course there was beer and ouzo, too.
I was really hoping we’d get to go to Belgium or France on our last full day in Germany. We flipped a coin to see where to go and France won. Bill went to buy a ticket to France and somehow ended up with a ticket to a Luxembourg border town instead. I was disappointed when we got to our destination, Rodange, which appeared to be a very sleepy border town. Nevertheless, it was lunch time, so we went looking for food. After about fifteen minutes of walking, we spotted a church at the top of a hill. We figured that was where we might find good eats, so we walked up the hill and sure enough, there was a little bistro across the street.
A sign on the door read that there was a set menu- soup, cordon bleu, bread, and vanilla pudding for dessert. It looked good, so we went in and sat down. Elvis Presley played over the sound system. After a few minutes of waiting, a pleasant looking man came in and set placemats depicting Portugal in front of us. He told us he was from Portugal, a country that remains on my bucket list. Then he explained what they had to eat… a three course meal including soup, a main dish, and dessert.
Bill was worried he might not have enough euros on him to pay for the meal, which turned out to be very tasty. He visibly winced when I acquiesced to the host’s suggestion of coffee to go with our sweets. Imagine Bill’s delight when the bill came and it was just 28 euros for both of us! Bill was expecting it to be almost three times that much! The host explained that we were in the country, where prices are cheaper! The same place had a six course meal being offered that night for 33 euros a person. I bet it was amazing.
We left the restaurant feeling good and not so sad about being in a sleepy Luxembourg suburb. Just as we arrived at the train station to figure out where to go next, we ran into a group of people. It was mostly young women, though there were a couple guys as well. It looked like one of the women was older. Several of the people were wearing devil’s horns and/or wigs. One guy was dressed in drag, complete with a blond wig, lipstick, and a note written in French on his back that said “I love penises”. But he wasn’t even the most outrageous one. There was a lady wearing a housecoat and a rubber penis on her nose. If that wasn’t weird enough, at one point, she lifted her housecoat and revealed the diaper she was wearing underneath. Then she scratched herself for all to see.
We got on the train back to Luxembourg and the crew of dressed up Luxembourgers got in the same car. I immediately dubbed our ride the “crazy train”. These folks were gamely posing for pictures. In retrospect, I should have gotten some myself! I don’t know what they were celebrating… a marriage or birthday? Who knows!
We spent the rest of the day in Luxembourg, eventually encountering a group of fraternity guys who were all wearing t-shirts that showed a naked guy wearing shaving cream over his privates. After all that excitement, we needed to have some beer. We hit a local spot that served Diekirch Reserve, which we followed with glasses of champagne. Then we made our way back to Trier, where we had one last German meal consisting of asparagus, Hollandaise sauce, and pig… schnitzel for me, ham for Bill.