Things have been fairly quiet since returning from Baden-Württemberg last week. I took over a total of three classes this last week as substitute teacher, and all went wonderfully – I even taught the one Year 7 class to sing Stompin’ Tom Connors’ “Hockey Song” for their teacher when she got back from Chicago! The other two classes, a Year 5 and a Year 8, passed without much comment, though I did have to speak German with the Year 5s (they had only just begun their English education). On Thursday I managed to hustle my way up to the university after the Year 8s, and joined a seminar on Maori/New Zealand literature. Why? Why not! It’s definitely an interesting comparison to post colonial stuff in Canada.
We’ve had such gorgeous weather lately that my roommate and I went for a delightful walk along the Mosel after I got home from the university on Thursday. Despite being a late-ish October evening I was entirely comfortable in shorts and a t-shirt! Hopefully the weather stays for a bit long so I can keep up running (what’s more lovely than running along the Mosel? Not much!), as I’m already noticing a Germany-paunch, oh dear, oh dear. The obvious thing of course would be to start going to the gym again, but I’m not sure how that works exactly here. My roommates tend to go to the McFit down the road, and yes, that’s “McFit” as in McDonald’s! People say that, if your city has a McDonald’s here in Germany it must also have a McFit, though not sure if I believe that!
The weather managed to hold out for the teachers’ hike from my school on Friday following a very stimulating and enlightening tour of the Liebfraukirche that did wonders for my understanding and appreciation of the rose-shaped church (see, I had never noticed it was rose-shaped before!). Our hike then took us over to the other side of the Mosel into the Weißhauswald (White House Woods). The Weißhaus is a local attraction here in Trier, perched up atop one of the cliffs opposite the city. Up until a few years ago a cable-car ran from the city up to the Weißhaus, though that’s been closed and removed. Now the Weißhaus is a fairly swanky restaurant with an unparalleled view of the city below, especially at night.
A small valley scoops down behind the Weißhaus, and it was down into this valley that we trekked after making our way along the cliff’s ridge. We soon came across a Wildherberge (not really sure how to translate that – a sort of cross between a zoo and a game reserve, I guess) with deer and wild pigs, truly deadly when encountered out in the wild. People laugh at the thought of dangerous pigs, but believe me, the big ones should not be underestimated! Luckily for us though a flimsy chicken wire fence protected us from the beasts (ask me some time about how much safer things are here in Germany, especially when it involves street maintenance). The pigs did make an awful fuss when some teachers starting feeding them, and I was surprised when the principal and another older teacher ran up with large sticks in their hands. Rather than beating back the villains however, they used their sticks to scratch the larger brutes behind their front legs while occupied in their food; this had a remarkable effect in that, after a time, the pigs would stop eating, look up, then roll over onto their sides and have what appeared to be a short snooze.
The next day Hillary, Whitney and I had intended to go hiking around Moselkern, Burg Eltz, and Treis-Karden to capitalize on the beautiful weather. We ended up postponing the excursion however as it would have cost 22 Euro return to get out there without student semester train passes, and that was unstomachable. Instead we agreed to set off to the other bank of the Mosel where we climbed what I could have sworn was a deactivated trail when I was here a few months ago. Any gate, after finding it (and getting lost in an allotment garden compound), we huffed and puffed our way up the steep switchbacks, pausing occasionally to “enjoy the view.” Eventually we made it to the top, where we had to hop a low fence before we could say we had made it to the Mariensäule, the statue of Maria that lovingly looks out over Trier. You can see her from most parts of the city, above all at night when a pair of skukum floodlights illuminate her.
From the German Wikipedia:
Maria’s Column in Trier is a Maria-Monument to honour the mother of Jesus. The monument is 40 metres tall, well within sight, on the left bank of the Mosel 300 metres up on the Marksburg above the city district of West-Pallien. The Column is therefore the highest building in Trier.
(Die Mariensäule in Trier ist ein Mariendenkmal zu Ehren, der Mutter Jesu. Denkmal und Sockel sind zusammen 40 Meter hoch und stehen, weithin sichtbar, auf der linken Moseltalseite in einer Höhe von 300 Metern auf dem Markusberg, oberhalb des Stadtteils West-Pallien. Die Mariensäule ist damit der am höchsten aufragende Bau Triers.)
The Column was built in the 19th century within a context of Catholic citizen/Prussian protestant local government officials. In spring 2007 the monument underwent a complete refurbishment by the Bishopric of Trier. After the work was finished the monument was re-consecrated by Bishop Richard Marx.
(Die Mariensäule wurde im 19. Jahrhundert vor dem Hintergrund von Auseinandersetzungen zwischen katholischer Stadtbevölkerung und preußisch-protestantischer Regierung gebaut. Im Frühjahr 2007 wurde das Denkmal für eine Sanierung im Auftrag des Bistums Trier komplett eingerüstet. Nach Abschluss der Arbeiten erfolgte am 14. September 2007 die Wiedereinsegnung durch Bischof Reinhard Marx.)
From there we made our way down and over to the Weißhauswald where I had been the day before, in order that Hillary and Whitney could see the wild pigs. The deer however took up a surprising amount of our attention, and, in Hillary’s words, we traded them food for “deer kisses” (slobbery deer licks as they sought to get us much food as possible out of your hands. It was only later that we saw the big signs saying “DON’T FEED THE ANIMALS BY HAND.” Oops). I tried (and failed) to convince the pigs to fall over, but somehow I was doing it wrong. Though I suppose I’m not surprised that there’s an art or skill to pig tickling!
Today however I just couldn’t make it outside to enjoy the sun, as lesson planning kept me inside. 7.5 hours of planning for four lessons on Sherlock Holmes and on a Thomas King story – those little monsters better enjoy all the work I put into this! (They won’t)