Got up, packed my trash, had a look at the weather report, and repacked everything to be maximally waterproof just in case it started raining (which, spoiler alert, it didn't thankfully). Headed downstairs past the garishly blinking ZyXel router outside my room and into the bright, cheery breakfast room, which was filled with a ridiculous spread of tasty stuff. The friendly owner wished me a good morning and said hey, would you like some ham and eggs? Uh, you bet! She disappeared for a minute and came back with a small plate of not particularly appetizing looking eggs and ham, but whatever, it was fine. Yes, you could do a better job, but it was quick and did the trick. A few minutes later, however, the only other guest in the breakfast room got into it with her over the eggs - he was all hey, where are those eggs I ordered, she was all wait, didn't I make those already? (Walks over to table) Yes, sir, those are your eggs, remember? - But those don't look like they do when I make them at home. - Well, that's how I make them here... it's an egg, scrambled, with some ham on it. - Right, but it doesn't look scrambled scrambled. - Well, sir, it's eggs. With ham. - Yeah, but... - I hope you enjoy it. Now if you'll please excuse me...
She was also happy to show off their fancy orange squeezing machine, so I had an OK glass of OJ to go along with the spread. The most fun was of course the massive coffee machine, which as usual took me a few tries to figure out how to make American style coffee. (In this case, hit DOUBLE ESPRESSO three times into a large cup and then add a little bit of HOT MILK. Problem solved. And for you Europeans out there, no, American coffee isn't necessarily weak garbage robusta from Brazil. Super pinky swear.) Now, the room rate also included a packed lunch, which amusingly turned out to be a plastic bag with two apples, a muesli bar, some sparkling water, and instructions to make two sandwiches yourself from stuff in the breakfast room. Cool, so I made two ham and cheese sammiches using tiny, dense whole wheat rolls, stuffed it all into my pack, paid my bill, and left.
Outside, it was crisp, cool, and definitely felt like it was going to start raining at any minute. Given the slick look of the streets, I suspected that it had rained overnight, although I hadn't heard anything at all. Getting out of Konz took a while; overall, I've definitely seen towns that look better than this. It all had the look of a suburb where you could spend your life going to a tedious job as a wallpaperer followed by some low-key chain smoking, fruit machine playing, and cheap beer drinking and then maybe a trip to the Thai massage parlor for some boobly-oobly followed by some casual whatever Tinder is in Germany and then maybe some passionfruit vaping just before falling asleep on cheap terrycloth sheets you bought on sale at ALDI. Yeesh.
At least the Mosel was beautiful as I crossed it over to the other side, which turned out to be one of those blighted suburban neighborhoods that looks like it was built by middle class people with poor taste who couldn't afford to live in the city, but who really wanted a "fancy" place of their own, so they built it way far out of town and then promptly couldn't afford to keep it up. There were random builders smoking in the streets, scary run-down bars that probably specialize in 2-for-1 shots of Apfelkorn or God knows what else and furtive neo-Nazi pamphlets in the back. I was happy that the trail shortly got the heck out of there and into a pleasant, airy forest with plenty of solitude.
Up and up the trail went, happily. There was a turnoff to Igel, that's supposed to have an awesome stelae, but whatevs, the real one isn't there anymore anyhow, so I'll skip that for now. After some time, the trail made its way into more open meadows, finally getting to a place that felt like a windswept hilltop with some houses in the distance. I stopped for a bit to eat a sea salt chocolate bar I'd brought from the States, and then settled in for a long bit of walking next to the Autobahn, which wasn't unpleasant particularly, just kind of funny - when you spend all day walking, eventually you're going to enjoy an industrial area or a freeway, somehow!
Finally, the trail turned right and away from the freeway, heading down towards what looked to be a lovely forested area. Shortly before getting there, I saw another hiker for the first time of the day, coming in the other direction. I said a friendly hello and promptly got a sort of terrified please don't rape me thousand-yard stare as she quickly walked away. All I could honestly think was whoa, something bad must have happened to her at some point... and it has got to be tough if you're just generally scared of men. Also, probably sadly not totally surprising. Alas.
Seeing that the trail was looking like it was going to be an easy-going forestry road type of deal for the next couple of miles, I put away my hiking poles and decided to bust out the earphones for the first time of the trip. I don't often like to listen to music while I'm walking, but I'd read about Walter Becker's death two days earlier and decided that this was a great time and place to listen to Aja. Turns out, that was a correct decision. The next forty-five minutes or so just flew by; the songs on the album were perfectly paced for my hike, and I felt kind of melancholy listening to the band work its way through plenty of lyrics I suspect must have been quoted like crazy on the internets this week, all in relation to Becker's death. Kind of sad, frankly, that the band broke up soon after that album, but when you've reached the heights of success and moved on to junk and dysfunction, well, them's the breaks. Hey, at least he cleaned himself up, got the band back together, played a lot of shows for a lot of fans, and made it all the way to 67. Most junkies never, ever manage a comeback at all, much less one as impressive as that.
Towards the end of the album, I started getting hungry, so started thinking more and more about the Cafe Mohrenkopf, which was said to have amazing coffee and cake... and which was directly on the trail. So, the fine tradition of "marching for margaritas" (what you do in San Diego when you're super tired and just want the trail to be done with), this eventually turned into marching for Mohrenkopf. The album ended, I took out the earphones near some cheesily ostentatious fancy homes, I saw the Moselcamino guy again briefly (he said Hello, American and I said Hello, German, I assume?), and then bounded up to the Cafe and its stupid CLOSED sign. Thanks, guidebook, for not mentioning that it's rarely actually open except on weekends.
Whatever, there was a well-placed bench across the street from the cafe looking down into a steep valley with a few houses, so I grabbed it, took off my pack, and chowed down on the ham-and-cheese sandwiches. Mmm, tasty! Feeling refreshed, I hitched everything back together, whipped out the poles, and gingerly made my way down the steep, slippery trail towards the valley. From there it wasn't all that much farther to the end of the trail for me, the Robert Schuman House, which is a multipurpose thing owned by the Bishopric of Trier that includes a hotel of sorts, but I'm getting ahead of myself. The final bit of the trail was nice and quiet, again through leafy, airy woods, before unceremoniously dumping itself out on a somewhat busy city street in the middle of the countryside with no sidewalk. Hey, thanks, trail. Still, it wasn't hard to dodge traffic, so I made it to the hotel well before their 3 pm checkin time.
Thankfully, the super friendly check-in lady said that she'd be happy to let me have a room ahead of schedule - it's just that it would be a room with a few of the forests towards the East and not my original room, which would had a view to the West and across the Mosel to the city of Trier. No problem, I said, if I want the view, I can always walk over there and see it, so it's great that you're letting me have a room now! Problem solved. I ditched my pack, tidied up a bit, and then put together a day pack to head over to the swimming pool complex in town as I was thinking that it'd be a relaxing thing to do after all that hiking.
But first, the Mary Pole! That's right, Trier's a Catholic city, and they'd built a giant pillar with a statue of Mary on it at the top of the hill across the river to the west. Turns out it's not only a great place to enjoy a panoramic view of the city, but it's also apparently a great place to take your girlfriend so that you can smoke and impress here with your knowledge of the DC Extended Universe. I swear, I always get to eavesdrop on the best conversations... Anyhow, after a few minutes of enjoying the view, it was time to get down the hill and into town. Apparently, there was supposed to be a fairly direct way to walk down from there, but I sure as heck didn't find it, so I just walked down the street to the Pension zur schoenen Ausblick, where I knew there was a stairway down to the river based on previous planning from way back. Welp, there was a stairway, but there was also a huge sign warning that it was closed and super dangerous... which I took to mean "sounds like fun! If you get busted at least you can just say you don't speak German!"
Dangerous? As if, at least compared to anything I'd seen on the trail so far. Yes, there were some downed trees and other challenges. Yes, some of the steps had come apart and were obviously not exactly safe . But if you're a reasonably experienced hiker and you've got some good hiking poles, then no big deal. It didn't take too long to slalom down the hill and get to the bridge over the Mosel.
On the way, I was amused to see the Flixbus to Luxembourg - that's the bus that my husband Dan'll take next week when he needs to get to Morbach from Frankfurt Main airport. On the other side, I started walking up Karl Marx Street - which, amusingly, intersects with Wall Street where there's an out of business pharmacy and a sex shop selling "gay anal lubricants" - and eventually made it to the Karl Marx House, which I'd visited shortly after my 16th birthday on a class trip and which had stuck with me ever since. I mean, hey, as an American teenager, obvious Marxism is one of your best options when it comes to shocking the bourgeoisie. I used to have a poster of Marx and Engels in my dorm room that they're still selling for ten euros - although to be honest it wasn't the Communism I loved, but rather its typography and of course two bearded fellas are always welcome...
Checking in on Swarm, I noted the usual smarmy comments about "huh, they didn't mention the tens of millions of Communist dead, but at least I saw his pocketknife, that was kewl". Americans ruin everything, yeah, I know. :(
Across the street there was a wine shop, so obviously I went in and had a glass of wine because I am in Germany and this is what you do, ja? It was a 2012er from Trier proper, and it was moderately good, not mind blowing but also better than average. Unfortunately, what I hadn't seen upon walking in was the sign that said that they had Federweisser and Zwiebeltorte, which is one of the Holy Grails of this trip for me. That's another one of those things that I absolutely love and that I'll never find at home in California: at harvest time, Germans love to drink freshly pressed white grape juice that's already started fermented, so what you get is mildly effervescent not quite wine that's still moderately sweet from the sugar that hasn't fermented and moderately buzz-inducing from the sugar that has. Add a slice of fresh onion tart - kind of like quiche, I guess, but less eggy - and it's heaven. But I'm not hungry yet, so there's no going right back in to order that after I leave.
I decide it's time to head over to the swimming pool to see if it looks invited, so I do, stopping for a selfie next to an ad for American pole dancing because OF COURSE. The swimming pool looks kind of boring, and the sun is now out and everything's loooking really good outside, so I say nah, this is not the time to hang out in the indoors swimming pool, so I head across the street to the Roman baths instead. They're all walled off with a hefty entrance fee (and UNESCO World Heritage plaque), so nope, not today, thank you. So all that's left to do with the afternoon is to wander the town and see what there is to see.
The cathedral is impressive, there are beggars outside, and there is an absolutely kick-ass bas-relief of Death that is straight out of Herzog's NOSFERATU, so yay. I see the father-son hikers at some point, I wander in and out of all kinds of crazy shops, i don't see any food that looks compelling, and there's some kind of neo-Nazi vs. antifa thing happening up by the Porta Nigra, which is kinda cool. Nothing like a good old fashioned left wing public shaming of fascists, after all. There's nothing much going on in the tourist information office, so I head outside, whip out the iPhone, and decide where to eat supper. Well, turns out there's a local brewery with a restaurant, so yup, problem solved.
Given that it's still just barely kinda sorta summer, their biergarten is out back, which is cool... no, scratch that, cold. But because the biergarten is open, the restaurant is not, so if I'm going to have my micro beer, it's gonna be chillly. The barkeep arrives, I have an awkward Q and A about whether or not the Bier des Saison is in fact a saison Belgian-style or something else (it's not, it's a Japanese inspired ale of some kind), but whatever, I get one, it's excellent. The sun disappears into cloud, the wind starts getting a little bit cheeky, and dang it, it's too cold... but the beer is good and yes, the kitchen is open, so I order some gulasch and a Spezial beer. It starts to sprinkle, I reposition myself under a tarp, I put on the rain jacket I brought (stupidly, I didn't bring my real jacket), enjoy my meal, and get out quickly because I need to start walking to warm up again.
After a wrong turn at the river, I reverse direction and hightail it to the Mosel bridge I haven't crossed yet. There's a slight fender-bender, traffic's hosed, but hey, there are some real advantages to being on foot, so it's a quick hop across and then a steep walk back up the hill to the Robert Schuman House. After getting some change for their vending machines, I somehow decide it's a nutritionally sound idea to get two small cans of Spanish peanuts and a tiny bottle of Riesling, which basically makes the rest of my supper for the day. Finally, just before bed, I notice that my Fitbit is maybe four hundred steps short of forty thousand, so I sneak out and wander the hotel until it's 40,000 proper, call it a day, and turn in for the night.
Addendum: props to the Robert Schuman House for the coolest, most minimalist crucifix ever. The single room that I had felt like a monastic cell in a super cool early 21st century way: if you didn't know that you were in a Catholic guesthouse, you might have mistaken the crucifix for something by Donald Judd. I dug it.