Spring break trip to Roman Germany 2003

Professor William Urban’s spring break trip was this year to Duesseldorf, Germany. Accompanying him were three Monmouth College students: Brittany Hasselberg of Peoria, Wendy Thomas of Mount Pleasant, Iowa, and Christine Regnell; also one faculty member and two students from Western Illinois University.

Assisting in the program was Mathias Betyna, who has worked with the college’s theater department and who was so important in making last year’s trip to Berlin a success. Betyna prepared a scrumptious meal for the group’s first supper—varieties of wurst, sauerkraut, potatoes, breads and beverages; he arranged for a tour of the huge West German Radio studios, a highly appreciated afternoon of coffee and torts on the rotating tower overlooking the Rhine, and a tour of the underground Roman ruins in Cologne; he was there to guide the group around Düsseldorf the first day and at 4:30 AM on the day of departure to see them off.

The youth hostel was very nice, though the one night without warm water was a bit of a challenge. Right on the Rhine, with a good bus connection; and an excellent staff.

The group visited Xanten on the Dutch border, where archeologists have rebuilt part of the Roman city; the museum officials were extremely friendly, and the meal at the "Roman Eatery" was great. The weather was cloudy and the ground muddy, but it was better than the next day’s drizzle; what the group wanted was the glorious springtime weather of the rest of the trip.

Cologne’s Roman-German museum and the gigantic cathedral were one day’s focus, but there was so much to see in Cologne that the group came back once again.

At the Roman-German museum in Köln, with the Dom in the background.

Two did chose to return for yet one more day. Duesseldorf is rather overwhelmed by Cologne, but everyone liked the city—especially those who chose to eat in the old-fashioned beer hall outside the tourist circles. The food was great wherever the group went, and those who sampled the wines and beer came away thoroughly satisfied.

At Schumacher's Bräuerei, a famous local establishment. A great place to eat, and to drink Schumacher's Alt.

A later meal at a Spanish restaurant in the Altstadt was also worth commending.

Professor Urban said that this was a good group to travel with. Just the right size and variety of ages and backgrounds.

Kaffee und Kuchen in Cologne. Several of us put on weight.

What a civilized way to go.

Aachen was another lovely day, with a visit to Charlemagne’s cathedral and treasury. By this time the students were seasoned travelers, ready to take on the complicated transportation systems, somewhat unusual foods (particularly at breakfast) and figuring out what instructions in German said.

The last day was a long train ride through the Eifel mountains to Trier, with its ancient baths, amphitheater, intact city gate and basilica, and the thoroughly modernized museum.

At the Roman bath in Trier. We also enjoyed wine tasting and more Kuchen.

The prince-bishop's palace in Trier. (They knew how to live in those days.) Lovely weather.

Politics was almost invisible. The German government may have disagreed with Bush's determination to oust Saddam Hussein, but there were no demonstrations; in fact, many of the newspaper editorials supported the American government’s position. Still, security was tight, especially at the Frankfurt airport on March 16.