After leaving the lovely town of Koblenz and the quaint Hotel Brenner, we got back in the rental car, turned on the GPS / Alec Guinness, and headed for Trier. The thing about the GPS is, it lulls you into this kind of ditzy mindset where you're going "I don't need to look at a paper map beforehand!" but you DO. Because if we HAD looked at one we would not have been surprised by the message that came up on the GPS screen...
DESTINATION IS IN AN UNREACHABLE LOCATION.
Much of Trier (you may know it as Trieste) is cobblestone pedestrian streets, preserving the ancient (Roman-era) character of the town. We came into town from the expressway on the wrong side of the pedestrian area from the Warsberger Hof hostel where we had reservations. After trying in vain to find a way from point A to point B, it was obvious what we needed to do. Ditch the car. So we did, at a convenient underground parking garage by the Basilica.
We walked and walked from the garage to the Warsberger Hof, going around the very longest possible way and wearing out the girls' little legs just getting to the hostel. On the way, we passed a carnival run by a Catholic church in town, and that about did it for any sightseeing plans that Mom and Dad had. We were thinking maybe rent bikes and do a bit of the Moselbahn bike route along the river, picnic lunch, etc...but as soon as we got to the hostel it was "food!" "Carnival!" so that became the agenda. When you travel with little ones, it's often--ok usually--no use to fight for your own way...we couldn't very well counter with "vineyard!" "Museum!"...
Warsberger Hof, by the way, is just fine for a budget hostel, and certainly comfortable enough. Breakfast was good. BUT. And this is a very big thing--for the first time, the bathroom was down the hall. JieJie at this point was still a frequent visitor to the convenience, so we braced ourselves for midnight trips to the bathroom. AND there were no curtains on the windows. See why we realized we should've based ourselves at Hotel Brenner and simply fanned out for day trips? Ah well, live and learn.
We did a lot of walking around the historic city center, took the cute little tourist tram and saw the main sights of Trier like the Porta Nigra (black gate) which dates back to the Roman era, as well as some old churches and quaint old neighborhoods. Can you tell though that we were getting to that point in a Europe tour at which all cathedrals begin to meld together into one giant old Gothic Romanesque Neo-Whatever...it's not what we are supposed to do, we tourists...I think we're supposed to dutifully attend to the uniqueness of each site, but after a while the phenomenon sometimes called "museum fatigue" sets in, and so it was for us in Trier. Plus, knowing that we couldn't investigate further made me and John reluctant to indulge our curiosity.
We ate at a Russian place on the square (it was ok...actually Rick Steves recommended the restaurant at Warsberger Hof!) and tried to get the girls to fall asleep...it was a tantrumy day as I recall, and we were all eager to get back to Antwerpen, which we did early the next morning. The parking garage wasn't even open yet when we went down to get the car, but my arms are long and thin enough that I was able to reach through the bars in the door and open it from the inside so we could get in the car and go. We went back by way of Luxembourg and had lunch at a wonderful little restaurant/cafe in Flanders before getting back into town mid-afternoon. It felt so good to be "home"! We decided to keep the rental car through the weekend, which turned out to be a GREAT idea.
I'm so sorry I wasn't able to entrance you with stories of Trier...perhaps another trip. It looked like there was plenty to see there, but you have to gauge all of the variables, and our two little variables would probably have gone ballistic if we'd suggested one more tour!
But stay tuned because the end of the Antwerp trip was the best of all!