1970: May 22, Gillenfeld

Heavy rain during the night, but the tent was very snug and we were all warm in our sleeping bags. Ate a large English breakfast, Andrew fetching fresh rolls from the camp shop, then Andrew and Sarah wrote up their diaries – Samuel Pepys wasn’t in it!

Drove off to Trier, along a pleasant semi-motorway through very green countryside, patches of woodland mixed with arable and seemed to be cultivated on a strip basis. Parked near the Porta Nigra in Trier – an immense Roman arch, partly restored and further work being done, very impressive.

Did some supermarket shopping for salads, wine and other odds and ends in a very bright cheerful shop – Sarah and I sample some ‘Instant Whip’ type stuff which was on offer. Great array of sausages, pâtés, smoked hams (some black) and fresh meat looking very good although a dreadful price.

Then tried to find the Rheinisches Museum – most frustrating despite our map, and conditions like (i) a thunder storm; and (ii) Buggerlugs [Gareth] at his worst, didn’t help. Marched down one depressing street which was so grim you expected to meet the Gestapo any minute. However, fortified by glasses of wine and ice lollies in a real working men’s drinking place, we found the hot baths (remains of) and the Museum and had a quick look at things excavated from Stone Age to Roman times. Andrew particularly impressed by the statue of Mars, Sarah liked the jewellery, Gareth fascinated by headless statues. Trier was a very important Roman city and they had unearthed masses of vases, small objects, statues and a lovely mosaic pavement.

Had lunch in the car in a hailstorm, I ask you! Then drove along the Mosel Valley. Vineyards crammed in wherever possible, sometimes in unbelievably steep corners – ground very stony, the basalt helps vines along by retaining heat and giving it out at night. Vines tied to posts in 3 loops but sometimes all joined together along a row, earthed up like potatoes. Many areas had pulleys to pass goods up and down. It was so steep and we even saw a tractor working on a pulley, it looked most peculiar. A lot of work going on, cultivating, re-planting and spraying. Many women working as well as men. The villages along the valley definitely wine orientated, with cellars, large models of bottles, barrels, etc. We noticed several had very tall (60′) fir trees bared except for a few branches at the top. No idea why, we only saw them between Trier and Bernkastel. The latter is more of a town, we stopped for a look around (to include looking round for a Damen, Sarah was, of course, bursting!). Many fascinating toy shops in which, of course, we had to linger. Narrow cobbled streets and several picturesque half timbered houses, some leaning at alarming angles. It came on to rain, of course, (it was that sort of day) and we retired to a cafe and had enormous glasses of local wine (Andrew drank most of one and was highly pleased) and florentines, very welcome. Bernkastel reminded us of Dinant in its situation, squashed between cliffs and river, but main difference was the vineyards pressing in on all available space.

Drove through several similar villages and then turned off the Mosel at Alf, through Bad Berterlich and up a steep wooded valley to the plateau top and thence home.

127 miles


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