Guten Morgen aus Trier, Germany!
(In case your German is even weaker than mine...'Good Morning, from Trier!')
We have plans to meet below the Porta Nigra to begin our day with Wilhelm’s Tante (aunt) Elisabeth and her husband, Albert. (To clarify, Albert is, in fact, Wilhelm’s uncle. It's just that Elisabeth is always referred to as “Tante Elisabeth” and Albert is always, simply, Albert.) Due to health complications they were unable to make it to the states for our wedding, and I have been dying to meet them! Every story involving these two is always larger than life; they are two of the most beloved relatives I’ve ever heard spoken of!
As we wait, Wilhelm explains this fortress-wall type structure that we’re standing below - the Porta Nigra. He tells me the city of Trier was once a colony of Rome and was protected by great stone walls. This ‘Porta’, or gate, was built around 180 AD. It is the only part of the wall that remains as the rest was pillaged for materials. The Black Gate (so-called due to it’s dark colored stone) also served as a monastery and as a church before being deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As Wilhelm finishes gushing stories about the Roman Trier, I look up and see just what we’ve come here to find..
I would know that smile anywhere. Though I’ve never met Tante Elisabeth I see her coming from a mile away. She’s got a stunning, mega-watt smile. Just like my father- in-law and just like my handsome husband! She is a glowing, vibrant woman full of life and excitement. She has a contagious, beautiful spirit about her. Albert is nothing short of charming. He doesn’t speak a lick of English but his cheery smile and big hugs speak volumes!
After an exchange of “hellos” & “guten tags”, Elisabeth asks if we’d like to stop and get some wine - for breakfast. My kind of lady.
We head from the Porta Nigra to the ‘Hauptmarkt’, the market square. There are people buzzing about, the shops are open, the bakeries are packed and the lovely smell of flowers floats through this open space with the breeze. In the center of it all are kiosks of sorts – some of which are wine kiosks. They have industrial wine coolers inside and modern glass racks hanging above. We order four glasses of Riesling, of course. It’s handed over in delicate stemware for us to enjoy as we stand in the middle of the town, chatting and laughing. When we’re finished we return the glasses to the counter and go about our day. Brilliant!
Next, we’re on to see the city. Elisabeth comes to Trier often to shop and happens to know all of the ins and outs – she’s offered to show us the highlights and we are thrilled!
If you read yesterday’s post you’ll know a bit of history on the Trier Dom (also known as St. Peter’s Cathedral). Today, as I’m walking into this medieval structure I find it more beautiful and full of mystery than I could have expected. The first things I notice are the black imported marble accents - I’ve never seen anything like them. Next on the standout list is the organ – it sits high in the rafters and looks as if it’s floating. Elisabeth explains it is a swallow’s nest organ and she remarks on how stunning it is, as well.
We are able to see the famous nail, rumored to have been used in the crucifixion, but no such luck on the holy tunic of Jesus. About twenty feet ahead of us.. up some stairs.. on an altar and through some glass we can see.. the box which holds the holy robe. A few times year they do have it open and the tunic itself on display - which is when Christians make pilgrimages to view this piece of holy history. Though I’m innately skeptical of the authenticity of the relic, I find myself quite disappointed that I’m unable to get a look at it!
After seeing the Church, Cathedral and even the archbishops’ tombs beneath them, we rove about the city talking with Elisabeth and joking with Albert. Humor, apparently, has no language barrier. He keeps us (me, at least) cracking up! I am incapable of putting into words how darling of a man he is - an absolute gem.
Tante Elisabeth knows not only which boutiques are fashion hotspots here in Trier, but she knows all the intriguing history of this town, too..
Legend has it that Trier was founded in 2000 BC! According to this local lore, Trier is over 4,000 years old. To put that in perspective…Trier would have been inhabited during the time of Abraham and Noah! For the record, though: Trier was (officially) founded by Augustus in 16 BC – and even by this measure, is still likely the oldest city in Germany!
We round the day off with a hearty German meal and a new (to me) German beverage. I enjoy the worlds creamiest, most indulgent tomato soup with a freshly made, giant pretzel dunked in spicy mustard. The rest of the crew (clearly more German than I) enjoy potato salad and enormous beef roasts - flavored with caraway and complimented by sour cream and tomato sauce. I do join in on the cultural experience by ordering a Bananenwiezen..
Yep! You read that right. Banana. Beer. Banana nectar added to hefe wiezen (wheat beer), served in a tall wiezen glass is the perfect cold drink for a warm day. Perfectly sweet and refreshing!
As we chow down and drink up, we also enjoy an album of old photographs Tante Elisabeth has saved of her adored godchild - she's made us a book of these memories to take home! Hearing childhood stories and seeing photos of W as a chubby little tot in lederhosen melts my heart. I’m one happy newlywed and I am feeling particularly blessed to have gained Elisabeth and Albert as family.
Prost (cheers), to adventures! Especially to those involving beautiful, historic European cities, with delightful, European relatives!