We arrived home from our European adventure late last night (Sunday). John picked us up at the ferry terminal and I must say we were really thankful he was so prompt–it had seemed a very long 23 hours on that ship with not much sleep due to noisy fellow passengers. We enjoyed our trip but not so much as others we have taken because we were so continually cold and encountered rain almost every day. We hiked around six different cities (seven for Chuck) and did some walking in four more. So that was a lot of territory for my old legs since my knee has been bothering me so much all winter long. However, I hung in there pretty well but toward the end of our trip I was becoming very tired of putting up with the cold and the pain and the rain.
Although this blog is primarily about our experience here in Lithuania, I will wrap it up with some pictures from our trip and hope you enjoy them as well. We’ll have three more days here so there will be a bit more about our time here before signing off on Friday morning.
Late on April 27 we departed Klaipeda by ferry to Kiel, Germany. It was interesting to learn how all these big trucks use the ferry.
We arrived in Kiel late Saturday and had to spend all day Sunday there because we could not pick the car up until Monday morning. We were impressed with Kiel as a lovely, clean, prosperous-looking city. It is mostly a new city as during the war, being an important port, it was nearly destroyed by bombing.
Monday, one of our two sunny days, we picked up the car early and were off for Luxembourg. It was a long drive, uneventful except for being stopped by a cop for having our fog lights on–it takes awhile to learn everything about a new vehicle. We finally reached our goal–getting into Luxembourg before night–and began to look for a place to stay which proved very frustrating and, in the end, impossible, as we were directed back across the Mosel River into Germany to find a place. As we were beginning to think we’d have to spend the night in the car, Chuck spotted, through the dark and rain, some lights and people and we stopped. Although this Gasthaus was normally open only during the tourist season, I think I looked sufficiently pitiful (old, wet, and tired) to the owner who suddenly decided to let us stay. So for two nights we were the only guests in a big guesthouse where the lady, Hedwig, lived. It was a lovely setting amid the vineyards on the bank of the river. Hedwig was very kind to us, supplying us with maps for the area and giving us recommendations of what to see. She suggested Trier, the oldest town in Germany, which I, being ignorant of much Roman history, had not even heard of, but Chuck knew all about it. So Tuesday morning we drove off across the fields, literally–the back roads were barely more than paths–and spent the entire day in Trier. It is a beautiful town with both lovely old buildings and churches and also Roman ruins. I was snapping photos left and right but will limit myself to including just a few things. If you ever go to Germany, Trier is definitely worth a visit. This day was the only day on our whole trip that we did not need coats.
Before we reached Trier, we stopped for a look at Saarburg and watched this big coal barge go by–all very picturesque.
The inscription on this building, loosely translated, reads: Before Rome, Treir stood 1,300 years in eternal peace.
As you can see, there are mobs of people outside the cathedral and this is because it contains the relic of the tunic Jesus wore on the day he was crucified. It is only on display for about a month and it has not been shown since 1996–and only 3 times over the centuries so when it is, it is a major Catholic pilgrimage site. So the lines were quite long–we waited till late in the day and only waited 45 minutes. This tunic was found by Helena, mother of Constantine, on one of her “relic-collecting” trips. While it seems unbelievable that she was able to find so many significant relics, still, the fact remains this garment is more than 2,000 years old and interesting in itself because of its history.
When we returned to our lodgings, there was a big party going on. It turns out it was a national holiday and folks were out enjoying the sun and at the vineyard drinking wine and chatting.
On Wednesday morning, despite the rain, we took off for Luxembourg city. It is a pretty but not outstanding, city. The best thing was that it has a deep ravine in the middle of the city and down there is a lovely park down there. There was also a very fancy cathedral with nice stained glass. We spent the morning walking in the rain and then drove on north. Perhaps we gave Luxembourg short shrift.
We drove north to near the border the for the night and in the morning, drove into Belgium and visited Bastogne. The museum and tour there were very nicely done. When John saw the pictures taken there, he noticed that the exhibit of the Christmas dinner scene depicted the actors in the movie Band of Brothers rather than the real participants.
We found the whole Bastogne visit very moving.
Afterwards, we drove up to Brussels planning to spend the afternoon there. However, it was not to be. We missed a turn and ended up being lost in Brussels for 2 hours (we had no city map) with only one desire–to get out of there. Finally, we got some good directions from a passer-by and got out south of town–not the direction we wanted. Because the roads are so poorly signed (most routes have several designations so you never know which road you’re on) we went far to the south in a big loop before heading north toward Bruge. So sorry there will be no pictures from Brussels.
Enough for now. I will continue later with Bruge and points north.