It was another four day weekend here (Thursday was a German holiday – Fronleichnam – the feast of Corpus Christi) so we decided to take a little trip. We’ve been exploring the local area a little bit, but this time we got serious and made a hotel reservation to stay over night.
The first stop was Clervaux, Luxembourg. This was the first time we’d been in Luxembourg, but we didn’t get a passport stamp since they don’t really do that any more. (Crossing into a new country in Europe is like crossing into a new state in the US – a nice sign by the side of the road but little fanfare.) This was a spontaneous stop on the way to our intended destination and it was a great find! This castle was heavily damaged during WWII but has since been reconstructed and now contains several museums inside.
The first museum contained detailed models of every castle in Luxembourg. For a small country there sure are a lot of castles!
The WWII museum at the castle had a huge collection of items from the war, including dozens of mannequins wearing military uniforms for the Allies and the Axis. It was an incredible collection – weapons, posters, propaganda, rations, tools, cigarettes, bombs – and photographs don’t do it justice!
Next we drove to the town of Diekirch, which was like a ghost town except for a big crowd gathered at the town square. It just so happens that it was the birthday of the country of Luxembourg, so most businesses were closed. But, the National Museum of Military History was open, and that was just where we wanted to go. Diekirch was right in the middle of the Battle of the Bulge and this museum commerates the Battle.
This museum was also quite impressive. It also had lots of mannequins (What is it with mannequins around here? More on that in a later post.) which were set up in dioramas. There were about a dozen military vehicles and again, plenty of memoribilia. This bomb is pretty interesting – especially since it was just found in 1993! Apparently old bombs are frequently found in this area. Yikes.
On the way to our next destination traffic was stopped for this cycling event. The time trials were happening so we got to see cyclists zipping by on some really cool bicycles. It rekindled Jeremy’s desire for a new bike (it doesn’t take much.)
Our hotel was in the town of Welschbillag-Trag, which was definitely off the beaten path. It wasn’t in any guide book or even on a GPS, but it was a cute little town. It was founded in 1219! We couldn’t find any information about the history, but it had a very intesting Roman-style gate. I’m not sure if it was really old or just made to look really old.
This was our hotel, tucked away in the rolling hills of the Eifel region. The boys were quite excited to stay in a hotel – they were less excited to see that there was no TV and they didn’t serve Fruit Loops for breakfast. The breakfast was lovely though – brotchen, jam, meat, cheese, eggs with ham, coffee, orange juice and hot chocolate.
After breakfast we headed to Trier, Germany, which was founded in 16 BC and was a major Roman settlement. This is the Porta Nigra which was the entry point to the city. Unfortunately for photography, they were having a big festival so it was impossible to get a photo without trucks in the way.
Porta Nigra is open for touring, and it is about 4 stories tall. It was converted into a church in the 11th century. Andrew wasn’t so sure about being in such an old building – he thought it didn’t look so sturdy. Yes, I am wearing a sweater and long pants and it is June 24th.
This is the Kaiserthermen, or Imperial Baths. This was an amazing engineering feat, considering it was built in the 4th century and housed hot and cold water baths. Apparently it was a social hang-out, where people would come to bathe and then play games on the sports field.
The Amphitheater could hold up to 20,000 spectators in its prime (built in AD 100) but I’d guess there were about 150 people wandering around when we were there. The boys’ favorite part was climbing down into the cellars where the animals were once held before battling gladiators. After hiking around we were happy to get on a bus and head back to the Porta Nigra area to grab some lunch, and then to the car.
One last stop, just for the kids (at least that is what we told them): the alpine slide in Saarburg. For 2 Euro we zipped up and down and around the hillside. Top speed was 31 kilometers per hour.
The slide is pulled up by a cable, and then it zips downhill. Don’t worry: There is a brake to control the speed and there weren’t any crashes. After a couple of slides each we piled back in the car and headed home.
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