Trier and Saarburg, 

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We had a wonderful week with my family in Westfalen (in the North of Germany), and were lucky to be part of my brother, Thomas’ Birthday celebration held in and around a typical farm/restaurant of the area. The weather was sunny, the food and wine excellent and plentiful. The guests had come from near and far and contributed with witty skits. Unfortunately I was somewhat under-dressed for the occasion as Angela Merkel (alias my brother’s friend Almut) made an appearance sporting a new outfit and hairstyle. My brother wittingly responded before he led the courageous of the guests astray on a bike ride. 

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From Ahlen we drove back to Schweich near Trier, where we had left the boat. The next morning, in the city of Trier, we met the old emperors, slightly senior to my brother. 

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First we bumped into Augustus, Julius Caesar’s nephew, 16 BC or so, who made the city a metropolis of the Roman empire. Trier which up to then was the settlement of the Treveri people was promptly called “Augusta Treverorum”. When the Romans clashed with the Celts, they luckily introduced some refined fashion and food to the gruel eating Celts. Sausages, herbs and spicy sauces became part of the diet. Shortly after the amphitheater, a geometric Roman city surrounded by massive walls and gates, among them the famous “Porta Nigra” were built. By the way, it was only called “the black gate” much later, as at Roman times the sandstone was still a clean yellow.

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A little further into the old town we met non other than the “Three wise Men” or at least a house by the same name. The brightly coloured “Drei Könige Haus”, as it is called in German, was named to attract tradesmen from Cologne, which prided itself with harbouring the bones of the Three Wise Men. Interesting is the door at first floor level. In the 12th and 13th century many houses had to be accessed by an external wooden staircase which could easily be pulled up to protect inhabitants and property from intruders. By this time the walls of the Roman city had been torn down and the city was no longer big enough to warrant new ones.

Last but not least at the Konstantin Basilica and the Crown Palace we met “Constantine the Great" . It was from Trier that Constantine ruled an empire extending from Scotland to North Afrika. 

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That was enough of greatness for Austin who felt slightly displaced and regretted leaving his kaftan in Sydney!

Walking to the bus to take us to our boat harbour, we passed Karl Marx’s birth house. Painted pink (not red!) it is however very fittingly a 2-dollar shop now.







The next morning we left the old Romans behind and moved on taking a detour up the Saar river to Saarburg.

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Saarburg is a charming little place. The “Leuk" stream flows under low bridges through the centre market place, from where it cascades 20 metres to a channel feeding 3 old water wheels. We had a coffee at the old "butter market", declined a meal of horse goulash at the former “horse market” and climbed the 107 steps up to the tower of the “Saarburg” (Saar-castle) instead.

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I loved the ancient Mabilon Bell Foundry. Here bells were crafted from 1770 to date. Church bells all sizes are displayed. The process of creating casts to pouring the bronze is explained with signs and photos. 

The sound is carefully calculated via an old formula, and so bells which are made for the same place can be created to harmonise. In the museum we could actually ring the bells via a rubber hammer and the sound reverberated right through our bodies.


© Austin Robinson 2019