All week long Germany has been experiencing an unusual heat wave. Temperatures have been in the 90’s which isn’t necessarily terrible, but without air conditioning in homes and most public buildings it has not been fun since there is literally no break from the heat. Aside from that, we might have been a bit spoiled over our 3.5 years in Washington State and maybe our bodies have forgotten how to handle this. It’s not just us though, the PX sold over 500 fans in one day and the heat was even making the autobahn break apart! Fil was away for work all week so Brock and I tried our best to keep cool. We splashed in his new kiddy pool, went swimming in the lake, and took cool baths. He is definitely a water baby. But by Thursday we were losing the battle against the temps and the monitor in his room said it was 92 degrees even with a fan running all day long.
I beefed up my attack on the heat and closed the windows and rolladens during the day. Rolladens are metal blinds that are outside our windows and you can roll them up or down to block the sun. We close them every night to block the sun (sunset is at about 10 pm) and leave them open during the day. Closing them during the day helped to block some heat but by 3 pm it was unbearable again in the house—or should I say cave since our sunlight was blocked off. The housing on base does not have rolladens so people were taping up paper and cardboard to block the sun too.
Saturday was supposed to be the hottest so Friday night I scoured my resources to fund someplace to cool off. Swimming was great but it was time to find something out of the sun. Brock may have the beautiful Puerto Rican sun tan gene, but Momma does not. Of course I found us the perfect Saturday afternoon plans for our Independence Day.
Trier, about 40 minutes north, is a great little city that we visited for their Christmas and Easter markets. I have also gone a handful of times to go shopping. All over the city are ancient Roman ruins, like the Porta Nigra that we visited in December. This time we went to the baths and also checked out the Handwerker Markt (Craftmans market) that was happening this weekend.
The market was set in the square around the Porta Nigra which made a beautiful backdrop and also provided some shade. We practically ran through the market, which even surprised me, but baby wearing in the heat can really drain you. The market was really neat though. Not your typical crochet/knitting, soaps, and jewelry. While those crafts were present there were far more hand made ceramics, at least 8 different leather workers, metal crafters pounding on the cast iron, basket weavers weaving, and two or three wooden toy makers. I was really tempted to buy some wooden toys for Brock but not temped enough to push through the crowds at the tables. The last table we saw was a bronze artist and he was molding bells right in front of us. I also really wanted something from his table but when I burned my hand turning over a bowl to see the price I sided against carrying around hot metal.
Naturally, after the market, on our way to the baths we stopped for some eis. Somewhere between American ice cream and Italian gelato you will find German eis and it is delicious. I got a lemon eis cone and guess what, Brock LOVES lemon eis! I gave him a lick to try and then it was a battle to see who could get more, me or him! An elderly couple walking by stopped to watch and laugh at us. They of course said Brock was so cute!
We probably should have taken the bus, but we walked the 10 minutes to the Kaiserthermen (Imperial Baths) keeping Brock’s head and neck cool with a wet rag. As we got to the upper part of the ruins I threw in the towel and asked Fil to wear Brock.
We skipped through the informative part of the tour in the new tourist building and went right for the underground. I did quickly read that the above ground part of the baths are big enough to house a modern opera house- stage, seating and all! Within a minute of walking outside the entrance building we were on the stairs going down instantly feeling the cool. We spent probably about an hour just walking through the underground service passages. Brock had fun riding on Daddy’s back but also running through the tunnels chasing Daddy and listing to his voice echo. (We forgot the camera, so iPhone photos it is).
I don’t think the baths were something we would really care to see again, but they sure saved us from the heat! It felt at least 20 degrees cooler down there. So between the tunnels and the AC in the car, I would say we had a pretty good afternoon.
After getting home I read more about the baths and they really have an interesting history. Originally constructed in the 4th century construction and purpose would continue to change through the middle ages. It would change from a bath house to a parade hall, then to a home (as Alderburg Castle in the Middle Ages) and finally a church and convent. The site was destroyed in the Second World War, and after clearing the rubble the site was excavated and studied.
The main bath was heated by 6 boilers. Can you imagine the technology in the year 300? I’m impressed. In addition to a hot bath, guests also would receive massages, oil treatments on their skin, and also relax while gambling, having their hair done, reading in the library, or drinking in the pub. The ruins really are not much to look at today, but clearly in their time they were quite impressive!
Sunday we will be attending our village’s Fisher Fest, and hopefully after that the weather predictions are accurate and this heat wave will ride out into a more bearable summer.