Thanksgiving for Americans is a big deal. It’s full of turkey, football, family, and Black Friday sales. All which are a little hard to come by in Germany in November, except for the Black Friday sales, which have found their way to Europe.
So. . . Thanksgiving break. Where to go? 4 days, 2 teens, dreary weather, not flying, should be a short drive. That’s how we ended up in Trier.
One of the lesser known German cities, it is one that should be on your list for a long weekend. On the border near Luxembourg, this Germany’s oldest city that was founded by the Romans. On the banks of the Moselle River, it has history for the nerds in your family and amazing wine for the parents.
Since we were there in the cold weather, our options were a bit more limited, but I can see (and have heard) the trails around the river would be beautiful for biking and hiking during the spring, summer and fall.
We found our apartment on HomeAway, and it was by far one of the best we have been in to date. Tons of room for the crew to separate, a fully stocked kitchen, free parking, very fast Wi-Fi (critical!), and a perfect location to leave kids if we ventured out as a couple.
If you have been to Rome, these ruins will likely less than impress. But if your kids were 7 years old on your last trip to Rome and can’t remember, you might be able to fool them a few years later.
Trier has a ton of history. It was the Roman capital of the west. Once they started building, this small city has seen a lot of activity. With 80,000 people living here in the year 300 AD, it was the place to be north of the Alps. I have to imagine it’s because of the beautiful landscape, the river, and likely the hills to grow grapes for wine.
The top sites are the Porta Nigra, the Ampitheater and the Imperial Roman baths. These are all ruins so there will be some imagining that is required for your teens. But there are lots of places to roam around, especially in the baths underground, and separate from parents and scare the crap out of their siblings.
In the better weather, you can even get a guided tour from a man dressed in a toga. Not likely something we could do in November, but I imagine that adds a little more life to the city.
Christmas markets in Germany start the first Sunday of Advent and that varies. But Trier is one of the few Christmas markets that opened early this year. This is a very busy market for it size with lots of tourists, so if it’s on your list, just be prepared for people.
If you are new to Christmas markets, expect all the traditional things like wurst, potato pancakes, and gluhwein.
When the market gets too much, stop into the cathedral that flanks the market square. This Catholic church, one of the oldest in Germany, is a wonderful place to explore anytime of year.
Right around the corner from the church was the parents’ favorite stop, Kesselstatt Weinstube, a wine bar with floor to ceiling of its own wine.
Trier is about 30 minutes from Luxembourg City, which is worth at least a day trip and possibly an overnight, if you have the time. More on Luxembourg here.
Best: In my opinion the top things in Trier was the breathtaking view of the Porta Nigra against the sun, the Roman amphitheater against the mountain of vineyards, and the Christmas market. Since we’re new to Germany, we have been to many Christmas market everywhere to get the whole experience, although even by Christmas time we saw everything that these markets offered.
Worst: I would have to say one of the only unfortunate things that happened was the cold weather.
Unexpected Surprise: We did have a few pleasant surprises along the way. Such as our apartment being very spacious and in a perfect location to easily access the city. Just before the city about a 5-minute walk there was the big shopping strip that I really enjoyed. I went out and bought some presents for my best friend and just really enjoyed wandering this city. I would really recommend this city its not as crowded, unheard of, but a perfect weekend city getaway.