Distance: 24 Miles
This morning when we arrived in the dining room for breakfast, the crew had placed a sandwich baggie, ONE bite-sized candy bar and a bottle of water next to each place setting. The breakfast choices seemed a bit lacking in variety for me, but I’m a famous fussy eater. We both managed to find enough to eat.
The baggie was supposed to hold our lunch items –which we scraped together from the breakfast buffet selections. It was easy enough to make a sandwich because they had breads and a meat and cheese tray. The bikes don’t have cages for bike water bottles, so the water was tucked into the panniers. Mike and I joked that it was just our luck to get the mean Halloween lady who only hands out ONE piece of candy per trick-or-treater! We were very happy that we’d located a grocery store the day before. We had a stash of our own drinks and snacks in the cabin to augment our choices from the dining room.
At 8:45 the “English” group met with the tour leader for a daily briefing about the route (although English clearly wasn’t his first language). The group is too large to be kept together all day, so the plan was to just let us loose while assuring us that we’d have no trouble finding the Patria at the end of the day. We were given two guide books. One has maps and the other has written directions. I’m a huge map person and I think I’m pretty good at reading them, but these were definitely a challenge. I tend to do better looking at something visual, rather than reading the directions, so we rarely (if ever) looked at the written map book. As it turns out, I wish it had been mentioned by the guide that there was extra information in there about some of the places we’d see, which would have been nice to know. Lesson learned – give everything you’re given on a tour like this a once over.
As the tour leader joked in the meeting –basically all we needed to do was make sure we were travelling downstream. He said, “If you wander too far away from the river, you’ll hit the hills and know to turn around. If you wander too close to the river you’ll get wet and know that’s not where you need to be …and if you are at the river but not sure which way to go, throw some weeds into the water and see which way they float and follow them downstream. It wasn’t always as easy as that, but we managed.
After the briefing we went outside to find the bikes we’d been assigned. Uh oh! These bikes were clunky beasts.
When I first got on mine to check my seat height, I wobbled back and forth like a kid who’d just gotten their training wheels taken off because the handlebars were so awkward to me. Once we got our bikes set up for us and our panniers on, it was time to go.
Our route for the day would be mostly on bike paths along the river’s edge. We had to cross the bridge from yesterday and follow the Saar River for a while.
Not too far down the river, we rode across a lock, which was located at a point where a canal had been dug to bypass a large curve in the river.
There are bike paths both along the canal and the bypassed section of river. Our maps took us along the old section of river for a mile or two because it was supposed to be more scenic.
For most of the day we mostly saw scenery and a few small villages. It was cold and often raining, so the camera didn’t come out as much as usual.
At the point where the Saar River joins the Moselle River, we had a choice in routes.
We chose the extra miles (just a few) for the bragging rights to say we visited Luxembourg. For about 5 minutes! To do that we had to cross to the other side of the Saar from where we were, ride a bit upriver along the Moselle and then take a ferry to Wasserbillig, which is in Luxembourg.
After getting off of the ferry there were other people from our tour around us at the time we were trying to pick up the bike route again and there was definitely some differing opinions about which way to go. There was also some construction blocking our way along the riverside in the direction I thought we should be going.
After a bit of backtracking, we finally got back on track and rode about ¼ mile to a bridge to cross over the Sauer River and without further ado we were back in Germany! The Sauer River is a natural border between Germany and Luxembourg -for a few miles anyway. Where we crossed it, the Sauer was at its confluence with the Moselle.
Back on track, we rode several miles to the next village, Igel. We stopped there to take photos of the Roman monument there.
This monument is actually a mausoleum which was built sometime around the year 250 by a wealthy family of cloth merchants. It is the largest existing column of its kind North of the Alps.
It was located a bit off of our route, so as soon as we were done checking it out, we found our way back to the bike route through the village.
We’d barely left the outskirts of Igel when it looked like it was going to rain again. We stopped at a bench that had a tree above it and we could see a dry circle where the tree was acting as an umbrella. We decided it might be a good place to have our sandwiches and put on our rain gear (which we’d been able to take off for a little while during the day).
After leaving Igel it was just a few more miles to find the Patria’s landing in the town of Trier. Just before we found the place where the Patria was moored, we passed under the Roman Bridge.
This bridge is the oldest standing bridge in Germany. It was built by the Romans in the 2nd century (A.D.) The upper parts have been fixed or repaired twice over the years, but the more modern improvements still rest on the original Roman piers.
I found it interesting that as we approached, we could see statuary and other decorations on the bridge, but after getting downriver of it I turned to take a photo and it was relatively unadorned on that side.
Near the Roman Bridge, I noticed this signpost. I took a picture of it because there’s a Camino de Santiago marker on it. See the yellow sea shell? I have since found out that there are several pilgrimage trails that cross Germany on the way to Santiago and that at least four of them pass through Trier.
Since the day’s weather hadn’t been very nice, we were glad to see the barge tied up at the dock just after another bridge further down the river.
We took showers, changed our clothes and relaxed for a while while waiting to see if the weather improved. It did and so we took a walk into town to look around.
Trier is considered to be Germany’s oldest city. It was founded by the Celts in the 4th century (B.C.). The Romans conquered it in the 1st century (B.C.) and, as they say, the rest is history. Trier is also famous for being the birthplace of Karl Marx in 1818.
Our walk through Trier was pretty much us wandering around without any real knowledge of what places we should be especially looking to see. We did manage to see quite a few great things, but I know we missed a few too. The town was hosting a bicycle race where the riders were doing laps around the downtown area. We somehow managed to create our own detour around it –but that was a challenge!
The first thing we stumbled across was the Porta Nigra –or Black Gate.
It was constructed. along with three other city gates, in the 4th century (A.D.) at a time when Trier was one of the largest cities in the Roman Empire. It was, as the name implies, one of the gates into the city while the Romans were in charge. Later in history, the gates were no longer being used so they were dismantled and the stones were used elsewhere, but the Black Gate was saved because by the 11th century, it was the home of a St. Simeon’s church. All of the stones in the gate building are held together with iron pegs. There is no mortar between them. Pretty impressive.
The bike race was happening almost directly behind the Black Gate.
This is a statue of St. Simeon. The story goes that he was a monk who had several pilgrimages to the Holy Land. For some unknown reason, he chose to be locked inside the Black Gate. He was buried there in 1035. After his burial, several miracles were proclaimed as happening at his graveside and so he was eventually canonized as a Saint. He is depicted holding baby Jesus on his shoulder.
Once we worked our way around the bike race, we just walked around and took pictures of things that looked interesting.
This is St. Peter’s fountain. It was built in 1595 and is the centerpiece of Trier’s market square:
We approached the Church of our Lady from a side street. Construction was started on it in the early 1200’s.
The Church of Our Lady was directly next door to St. Peter’s Cathedral. Construction on St. Peter’s was started in 326 (A.D.) on the orders of Emperor Constantine. The same year, Constantine also ordered that construction be started on St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
The original complex was much larger than it is today. The Church of Our Lady was actually built over an original part of St. Peter’s. The two buildings are separated only by a narrow space.
An interesting fact about St. Peter’s is that possess a holy relic (or two) – the famous one is the Crucifixion robe of Christ. It is not on display and rarely seen. The lore is that Constantine’s mother, the Empress St. Helena, was quite pious and returned from the Holy Land with this robe and entrusted it to her son’s church in Trier.
We found ourselves getting hungry and a bit tired, so we began the walk back to the river.
I like to photograph interesting doors in Europe. The top picture is an entrance to an outdoor space of some sort -maybe a garden?
Before long, we arrived at our home away from home…
Our night ended with dinner and an early bedtime so that we’d be ready to go again in the morning. For some reason, I didn’t take many pictures of the interior of the boat, but some will pop up a long the way.
Our room with a view: