Sunday, June 10, 2012


We continued our exploration of Germany last weekend by participating in Happy Mosel. Once a year, an 80km stretch of highway in the Mosel region is closed to motorists. Thousands of bicyclists go from village to village, stopping to drink local wines (mostly Reisling) and eat bratwurst. But I'll get to that later.

Our guesthouse was in a charming village called Briedel. The landscape of the Mosel region is beautiful and interesting. Roads wind around mountains covered by vineyards on the banks of the Mosel River. This is how I imagined Germany before we moved here. 

Mosel Region
We parked on the street alongside the guesthouse and walked up the hill toward a woman sweeping the sidewalks. She eyed us suspiciously as we approached the door. She suddenly stopped sweeping and asked, in German, if we were looking for the guesthouse. "Yes," we said. Then we asked if she spoke English. She replied, "Nein. Only a little. Is not possible if you don't have reservation." 

"But we do have a reservation," I replied.

Suddenly her English markedly improved. She put aside her broom and said, "Follow me. I show you the room."

We entered the house behind her, taking care to wipe our feet thoroughly since she'd just finished mopping. The house was typically German: huge, very clean, and orderly. Our room came with its own bathroom and a little balcony overlooking the vineyards. We dropped off our bags and got back into the car to drive the 60km to Trier, Germany's oldest city.

Trierer Dom
The drive was pleasant and took no time at all. We arrived a bit late (4pm) for serious sightseeing. Luckily Trier is easily navigable by foot and we were able to quickly locate the Trierer Dom, the oldest cathedral in Germany. We decided to eat an early dinner outside of the cathedral and our view was perfect.

The scene was complete with the vocals of a female opera singer resonating between the tolling of church bells. 

Electoral Palace

After dinner, we walked to the Kurfurstliches Palais (Electoral Palace). It's a 17th-century beauty originally built as a residence for the Archbishop-Electors. The interior of the palace is off-limits to tourists but the palace garden is lovely. For some reason it reminded me of the rose garden in Alice in Wonderland.

Palace Garden

See? Chopped-off heads for painting the roses red.
More walking brought us to the Kaisertherman (Imperial Baths) built by Constantine in the early 4th century. 
Imperial Baths Ruins

Next on our self-guided walking tour was the amphitheater. Unfortunately it was also already closed by the time we trekked several miles to reach it. It dates from A.D. 100, making it Trier's oldest Roman structure. I definitely want to return to Trier to give it the full day it deserves. We missed a lot because we arrived so late.

We drove back to Briedel, excited about Happy Mosel the next day. In anticipation of all the Reisling we'd be enjoying, we had a bottle from the vineyards of our guesthouse owners. It was delicious-- the perfect, dry Reisling. 

The temperature was perfect and not a cloud darkened the sky as we fell asleep Saturday night. We weren't at all prepared for Sunday's rain that turned Happy Mosel into Soggy Mosel.

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