Here is another installment chronicling my month-long trip to Europe last fall. I had hoped to get all of these posts up long ago, but clearly, I have had to alter my goal in that regard (now, my goal is to get them up before an entire calendar year has passed—and that might be ambitious).
I left off in the last installment saying goodbye to Belgium (truly one of my favorite European countries), driving across Luxembourg (don’t blink), and into Trier, Germany. Usually, on these trips I served as the coördinator/guide and I would ride the route every day (unless it was raining of course–I do not ride in the rain), following the clients on the trip, ready to land a helping hand if they had a flat, or managed to find their way into a ditch. Unless they were bleeding, of course (I do not do blood).
On this particular trip, however, I was neither guide nor coördinator. I was the factotum. If you are like me, you have not seen that word either since you were: A). Studying for the GRE or B). Ever.
Basically, I was to do whatever was needed on the trip: schlep the bags, drive the van, deal with the hotels and the meals. Pretty much everything.
There was the possibility that I could do all my “factoting” and then head out on my bike, but as we know from Robert Burns, “the best laid schemes of mice an’ men gang aft agley.”
Or something like that.
Basically it means that once I got into Trier, although I thought I might want to hop on my bike, there was no way in Hades that I was actually going to ride. Since, as soon as I cross the border into Deutschland, my focus immediately changes.
While I do enjoy Belgian beers immensely, and I know it might be blasphemous, but their German counterparts pale in comparison (did you notice the little pun there?). In fact, I find most German beers rather boring. As strange as it sounds, for me, Germany does not mean beer, but wine, specifically white wine. Some of the best Rieslings in the world are produced along the Mosel River Valley, just North of Trier (although my dear friends in Alsace would certainly argue), and after a week of beer (albeit really good beer), I was ready to dive back into fermented grape juice head first.
My plan was simple: get to Trier in time for a pre-dinner visit to my favorite wine bar, Das Weinhaus. In fact, it was not only my favorite wine bar, but also my favorite restaurant in town, which is enormously convenient. The first time I was there a few years ago, I happened across one of the local winemakers who was also having dinner there. Soon, we were yucking it up and tasting through all his wines that were on the menu (there were eight of them) and some of his favorite wines made by his neighbors (I lost count at ten).
So yeah, I kinda liked the place.
The food, like most of the food in Germany, is good but unspectacular. The wine list? Well, that is another story altogether. I did not take the time to count, but as you can see by the accompanying photos, the list is extensive, with the vast majority of the wines being Riesling, and many of them were available by the glass.
The first night in Trier, is another independent night—one in which the clients are free to roam the city, on their own for dinner. Once again, I had a favorite place to go, Das Weinhaus (The Wine House—pretty evident that I am always ready to switch back to wine at this point, eh?).
So I raced across Luxembourg and into Trier, unloaded all the bags (if this group was any indication, Aussies do not travel light), and then walked the block and a half to have a glass of wine (or seven) before dinner.
After a few glasses, I headed back to the hotel to discover that A). I got a parking ticket (Germans clearly believe in enforcing parking regulations much more than the Belgians do), and B). My Aussie Octet was there waiting for me to go to dinner. I explained to them (again) that it was actually an independent night, but they would have nothing of it–it was technically our last evening together (the following evening I was to endure a bit of an Odyssey down to Aix-en-Provence, in the south of France) and they wanted to buy me dinner. A very sweet gesture, indeed (so I did not bother to tell them that the company I worked for was actually buying my dinner).
Thus, we all went off to das Weinhaus where we had a grand old-time, drinking far too many bottles of wine and eventually closing the place down. Upon leaving, I let them all know that I had an appointment the following day at St. Urban’s Hof, a well-respected producer in the Mosel and that they were all welcome to join me for the tasting, which was about halfway along the route up to Bernkastel.
Yes, I had a huge day ahead of me, involving driving the van to Bernkastel and then taking at least three trains to get into Aix by midnight, but I figured I could squeeze in a quick wine tasting.
Afterall, I wouldn’t be riding.