Rain and elephants in Trier

Trier 1

I first read about the Elephant Parade on Travel With Intent’s blog, when she posted photos of them as her entry for Ailsa’s multi-coloured photo theme. The elephants were on a tour of the UK and she had managed to catch up with them in Manchester. She mentioned that there were also parades in Luxembourg/Trier and in Southern California this year, and I knew immediately that I wanted to go and see them in Trier if they were still there. A quick check of the Internet confirmed that I had until 18 October 2013 to visit them, and so our trip was arranged.

Trier blue elephant

We woke up yesterday to rain in Karlsruhe and a weather forecast that confirmed we could expect the same of Trier, but we weren’t going to let a little water put us off! So we picked up the car and were on our way. Going was pretty good until we got right outside Trier and ended up stuck in a huge traffic jam. The minutes ticked by, and we eventually decided that we would take the next turn off, into a kind of retail centre, and see whether we could park there. It turned out we could, so we left the car and walked the rest of the way into town… finally reaching the Porta Negri about half an hour after we had arranged to meet my friend (who lives in Luxembourg) there!

The Porta Negri
The Porta Negri

There was a bit of a culinary market happening on the square beside the gate, selling new wine among other things, so our first stop was to grab some food. It’s a long drive from Karlsruhe to Trier (about 2 hours and 15 minutes… plus the time stuck in traffic trying to get in to the town!) and we were hungry. One pork steak with bread later, I was ready to explore. And we were immediately rewarded with our first few elephants.

 

A golden elephant
A golden elephant
This colourful elephant looked so sad...
This colourful elephant looked so sad…

Next stop was the Trier cathedral, which was huge! It almost seemed bigger on the inside than the outside…

Up to this point, it had been very dull and grey, but not actually raining. When we came out of the cathedral, it had started to drizzle a bit, but that wasn’t going to put me off exploring further! We put up our hoods and moved on. Here’s one of Jan’s favoruite elephants:

Trier elephant 3

The elephants were, understandably, very popular with children, and it was often difficult to take a photo without any small people getting in the shot! Which is why a lot of my photos ended up looking something like this…

Sorry I cut off your feet, Mr Roman Elephant....
Sorry I cut off your feet, Mr Roman Elephant….

Trier lays claim to being the oldest city in Germany (along with Worms, which would have us believe it takes that honour!), and there were certainly a lot of old buildings in the centre of town. Here are a few:

All the elephants in the parade could also be bought – quite a few had signs on saying they were already sold – the money going to the charity that the parade aims to raise awareness off. Where would one put a giant elephant sculpture, I wonder? There was also a shop selling smaller replicas of the elephants and other elephant products, such as keyrings and T-shirts. Jan bought me a small, plain black elephant (even the very smallest of the themed ones would have cost €35! It may be for charity but I’m not insane!). I loved this Obamafant that was on display outside the shop:

Obamafant

After walking around for around 3 hours, we went to meet D – a friend of my friend – who lives in Trier, for a coffee. My legs were very glad to have a seat for while, I can tell you! We drank and chatted for quite a while, then D said he still needed to go shopping and run some other errands, so we headed back out. It had started to rain properly by this time, but Jan wanted to find the Mosel (river) so we went for another walk. The river was quite a bit further from the main part of town than I had expected and the buildings along the river side weren’t particularly nice, which surprised me, but have some photos anyway.

The River Mosel and the Römerbrücke (Roman Bridge)
The River Mosel and the Römerbrücke (Roman Bridge)
Down by the river
Down by the river

I also spied some cute graffiti down by the river, which I couldn’t resist taking a photo of:

Awww!
Awww!

After our detour to the river, we headed back into town to eat at the only restaurant my friend had been to in Trier. It’s called Kartofeel Kiste, meaning potato crate… can you guess what they specialise in? I decided on one of the few things that seemed to be a local speciality – or at least have the town’s name in its title – Trierer Gefüllte – huge balls of potatoes filled with meat and cooked in a creamy cheese sauce. Not exactly diet friendly but delicious!

Once we’d eaten, it was time for us to head back to the car and my friend to head back to the train station. Despite the weather, it had been a very nice day! Although I have to admit, Trier wasn’t quite as nice as I’d been imagining after having it recommended by so many people! It certainly has history though and is definitely worth a visit (even when the elephants aren’t there…)

Update from August 2014: I’ve decided to add this post to the Travel edition of the Young Germany Expat Bloggers hop. You can see the other entries here.

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Look Up, Look Down – Deutsches Eck

Today is a holiday here, for German Reunification Day, and what better day to honour that than by using some very German photos for today’s Look Up, Lood Down entry. The following photos were taken in Koblenz at the Deutsches Eck (German corner). Both photos have featured on the blog before, in my post about our trip to Koblenz, but I’m sure I’ll be forgiven for reusing them 😉

Photo one was taken from the top of the Kaiser Wilhelm monument, looking down on the Deutsches Eck… the point where the Rhein and Mosel rivers meet.

Deutsches Eck, viewed from the Kaiser Wilhelm monument
Deutsches Eck, viewed from the Kaiser Wilhelm monument

And photo two is the opposite view… a picture taken looking up at the Kaiser Wilhelm monument from the Deutsches Eck:

Kaiser Wilhelm I
Kaiser Wilhelm I

Do you have a photo that would be just perfect for the theme of look up, look down? Check out Travel With Intent’s blog post to see other people’s interpretations and join in with the challenge!

Koblenz

Jan and I went to Koblenz in April 2011, when they were hosting the Bundesgartenschau or BUGA (National Garden Show). It was Easter weekend, but unlike this year and the year we went to Worms, the weather on that day was absolutely stunning!

The Rhine in Koblenz
The Rhine in Koblenz

The name Koblenz originates from the Latin confluentes, i.e. confluence, meaning “at the merging of the rivers”, which should give you a clue to the town’s location… Koblenz is situated on both banks of the River Rhine at its confluence with the River Mosel. The headland where the two rivers meet is known as the Deutsches Eck (German corner) and features a huge replica of a statue of Kaiser Wilhelm I (the original was destroyed by the French in World War II).

Kaiser Wilhelm I
Kaiser Wilhelm I

In May 1953, Theodor Heuss (who was German president at that time) rededicated the plinth of the statue as a monument to German unity and had the coats of arms of all the Bundesländer (including those in the East that, at the time, had been “lost” to the Soviets)  installed there. The flags of all the states are also flown at the end of the Eck, along with the Germany flag.

Deutsches Eck, viewed from the Kaiser Wilhelm monument
Deutsches Eck, viewed from the Kaiser Wilhelm monument

It’s a great place to sit and watch the world (and the river) go by.

Having viewed the famous German corner, it was time to go and look at some flowers! Well, what else is one to do when the entire town has been taken over by a garden show?

Flowers

Flowers and statue

The photos above were taken in the grounds of a church right next to the Deutsches Eck, the Kastorkirche (St. Kastor’s Church). Here it is:

St. Kastor's Church
St. Kastor’s Church

After viewing the area around the Deutsches Eck, we took the cable car (installed especially for the BUGA and still in place) up to the other side of the Rhine and the grounds of the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress.

Koblenz from above
Koblenz from above

There were some flower tents up there and a few other interesting things, including bee hives! Here are some of the flowers we saw in the tents:

BUGA Koblenz 1

BUGA Koblenz 2

BUGA Koblenz 3

Before heading back down into town, we also decided to have a look at the fortress itself. I have no photos taken at the fortress, for some reason, but the museum inside was quite interesting. Here’s what Ehrenbreitstain looks like when viewed from Koblenz:

Ehrenbreitstein fortress, Koblenz
Ehrenbreitstein fortress, Koblenz

Back down on the other side of the Rhine, we headed to the third area of the Gartenschau, the Kurfürstliche Schloss or Electoral Palace.

Kurfürstliche Schloss Koblenz
Kurfürstliche Schloss Koblenz

Once in the palace gardens, we followed the sound of tweeting until we found these guys:

BirdsOf course, there were also more flowers.

Flowers 2

The restaurant at the back of the palace was surpisingly inexpensive, and before heading back to the train station, we ate a delicious platter of cheese, grapes and various types of bread, plus a glass of wine each.

Koblenz is a beautiful town, but doesn’t have as many tourist attractions as some I’ve been to. The main ones have been mentioned in this post: The fortress, the Electoral Palace and, most famous of all, the Deutsches Eck. On a sunny day, it’s definitely worth a visit but if it’s raining, I’d maybe give it a miss – other than the museum in the Electoral Palce (which we didn’t visit as only the gardens were open during the flower show), I didn’t really notice anything for visitors to do indoors. Koblenz isn’t my favourite German town that I’ve visited, but I wouldn’t object if I was given the chance to go there again.