Captain’s log, day 86: With the weather cooperating, on May 2nd we departed Strasbourg and stopped for lunch and a lovely stroll in the beautiful city of Heidelberg which was along the way.
Our next destination was the small town of Otterberg, just north of Ramstein Air Base, in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate. Ramstein is part of the Kaiserslautern Military Community where more than 54,000 United States service members, and another 5,400 US civilians live and work. Our neighbours, a young American military family, say that one of every three people living in the area are from the US. We had no idea. This is just the kind of happenstance that can happen when you do a home exchange.
Otterberg has a small but charming old town that is centered around a 900 year old Church. The skies are full of activity, presumably aircrafts coming and going from Ramstein. The house is new and well appointed and that allowed us to settle in comfortably for the longest stay (ten days) of our entire trip.
Aside from the Military base and the old town there’s not much else in the immediate vicinity of Otterberg. We made day trips to several German towns between days that were dedicated to school work. We traveled to Mannheim to attend the Maimarkt, which is essentially a massive trade show featuring a range of household products and services. We like how Europeans build and furnish their homes and thought it would be fun to mingle with the locals and see some things that you just don’t see in Canada.
We visited Mainz, the birthplace of Johannes Gutenberg who famously commercialized the printing press back in the fifteenth century. Mainz is a pretty town on the left bank of the Rhine featuring excellent pedestrian streets and, you guessed it, an impressive church! We visited the Gutenberg museum and enjoyed a guided walking tour.
The highlight of the week was visiting Trier , the oldest town in Germany. Trier, which stands on the Moselle River, was a Roman colony from the 1st century AD and then a great trading centre beginning in the next century. It became one of the capitals of the Tetrarchy at the end of the 3rd century, when it was known as the ‘second Rome’. The number and quality of the surviving monuments are an outstanding testimony to Roman civilization. The Cathedral of Saint Peter and the adjoining Church of Our Lady were impressive. Trier’s most famous son is Karl Marx and we visited the Karl Marx museum.