Over the long Easter weekend (here both the preceding Friday and following Monday are holidays) we went to Trier, formerly a Roman city located on the upper Mosel near Luxembourg and France. Among the surviving relics are the largest baths outside Rome, an amphitheater seating 20,000, and a massive gateway fortress from which one can still view the town. The surprising number of relics in the Rheinland Museum with grape and wine motifs is a reminder that the Romans began the German wine industry. A sculpture of a wine ship from a 3rd century funerary monument is manned by grim sailors—except for one with a broad grin, called the "jolly helmsman." Trier is still a major wine export center, providing ample opportunity to sample—in the huge wine vaults beneath the city, in numerous Wein Kellers, or at the vineyards surrounding the town.
Trier’s location means that it is easy to find restaurants with outstanding French cuisine, which we also liberally sampled. One night we were watching the boats on the Mosel from our window seats in the upstairs dining room of the Pfeffermühle (Peppermill) restaurant when we heard some activity several tables behind us. The Mâitre d’ had proffered a leather-covered box, typical of those from which one chooses a cigar to accompany the after-dinner cognac in such elegant restaurants. We also heard "stark" and "kräftig"—strong or robust—likely adjectives for cigars. There were two unlikely aspects to that explanation however: the couple had only recently arrived, and it was the woman talking! After some more discussion she made her choice, put on a suitable pair of gold-rimmed glasses, and turned to reading the menu!