Getting Personal: A Return Trip to Trier

You know that feeling when you run into a friend from your past? Maybe it’s an old roommate, or an elementary school friend, or your high school softball coach. You spent a lot of time together, but it was a long time ago, so they feel familiar yet totally foreign… that’s exactly what it felt like being back in Trier.

Being back in a place I hadn’t been to in eight years was like becoming myself at 20 again. I almost forgot that person, yet here she was, standing on the cobblestone outside the Dom staring up at it’s massively ancient edifice.

 Trier’s Dom (Cathedral) dates back to the fourth century, but most of the current building was finished around 1235 AD.

Trier’s Dom (Cathedral) dates back to the fourth century, but most of the current building was finished around 1235 AD.

I was in Trier 8 years ago because I couldn’t afford to travel on my break weeks during my semester abroad. While my classmates were planning their trips to Sicily and Dublin and London, I was nervously scrambling to figure out where I could afford to live for a week (break weeks weren’t technically part of the curriculum and therefore not covered by tuition).

That’s not really the whole reason I was nervous. The other half of the reason I was nervous was because I knew where I could stay. I just didn’t know if I liked that option.

Chris (my now husband) and I weren’t dating at the time, and I didn’t like the idea of doing things that made it look like we were. I couldn’t be spending all my time with a boy (even if he was my very good friend at the time) I have cohorts to impress! I thought to myself. I have to look carefree and adventurous! (Feel free to roll your eyes at this point.) But there I was, out of money and options, on a 9-hour train ride from Regensburg to Trier to crash on Chris’ family’s couch.

The first thing I remember about Trier is the colorful Hauptmarkt.

Trier Hauptmarkt Market.jpg

This is where I uncomfortably tried to fit in with the local kids at Fasching (I failed, if you were wondering). It was snowing, beads were being thrown, and kids younger than me were drinking vodka out of flasks. Very disorienting, but oddly still a fond memory (now).

 Me and my “friend” Chris in Trier’s Hauptmarkt for Fasching (2010). What 20-year-old Kammie wanted you to know from this photo editing masterpiece was that I was very cool, like  listening-to-Passion-Pit-records-in-Urban-Outfitters  cool.

Me and my “friend” Chris in Trier’s Hauptmarkt for Fasching (2010). What 20-year-old Kammie wanted you to know from this photo editing masterpiece was that I was very cool, like listening-to-Passion-Pit-records-in-Urban-Outfitters cool.

 And here we are today. What 28-year-old Kammie wants you to know is that the hazelnut gelato she just ate was delicious, and she doesn’t care about much else at the moment.

And here we are today. What 28-year-old Kammie wants you to know is that the hazelnut gelato she just ate was delicious, and she doesn’t care about much else at the moment.

What was amazing to me then and still amazing to me today is that Chris has an entire family here. He has uncles and aunts and cousins and they’re all just living their lives over there on the other side of the world. From a kid who grew up thinking Arizona was exotic, the novelty of foreign relatives never really wears off.

 Chris’ family hosted a BBQ for us at a house that’s been in their family for hundreds of years. It’s in the town of Quint, right outside Trier, and right on the Moselle River.

Chris’ family hosted a BBQ for us at a house that’s been in their family for hundreds of years. It’s in the town of Quint, right outside Trier, and right on the Moselle River.

Another thing I remember from my last trip to Trier was how insecure I was that I didn’t speak the language. It sounds maybe silly to say this, but it almost felt like people were laughing at me. It’s that same feeling you get when people near you are giggling and you just happen to catch their eye, so you feel like you were the topic of conversation (just me? okay I can live with that.) What I’m trying to say is that I didn’t realize how much my own insecurities played into the way I interpreted my experiences. The same family get-togethers that made me uncomfortable 8 years ago filled me with absolute joy on this trip.

Aside from the security that accompanied age, I think another thing that helped was that Chris and I weren’t in this strange, figuring-it-out stage. Our life is together now. There’s nothing to figure out. This is it. Most of the time, I forget there was even a time before Chris & Kammie Jenkins, but in Trier, I remember.

 Chris and I did not stay on his relatives’ couches this time. We stayed at the very cute Villa Hugel.

Chris and I did not stay on his relatives’ couches this time. We stayed at the very cute Villa Hugel.

Another pillar of my Trier memories is this garden path that cuts through the city. The last time I was here, it was covered in snow. You could barely make out the little cottages, fences, and shell of what looked to be a beer garden in the warmer months. We walked that path so many times from his Oma’s apartment to the city center, and every time we did, I swore I’d come back and see it how it was intended to be experienced. We did, and it did not disappoint.

  Kleingärtnerverein  is a community garden in Trier.

Kleingärtnerverein is a community garden in Trier.

 Each of the plots has a little cottage on it. In the summertime, it’s teeming with cute little families splashing in wading pools and grilling dinner.

Each of the plots has a little cottage on it. In the summertime, it’s teeming with cute little families splashing in wading pools and grilling dinner.

 It  was  a beer garden! Thank God for the sunshine and an ice cold Bitburger.

It was a beer garden! Thank God for the sunshine and an ice cold Bitburger.

Last personal thing before I get to the rest of the attractions. Our last trip to Trier was also when I admitted to myself that Chris was a pretty okay guy. I remember one day he asked if we could go out to dinner. I remember thinking that was really weird, because we had been spending every day and meal together that entire week. Why did this dinner warrant a special request? “Because I’d like to call it a date,” he said. “Would you be okay with that?”

20-year-old, insecure, anxious Kammie was definitely not okay with that. But you know what? Self-assured, brave Kammie was there too, and she said “sure.”

 Here we are eight years later, at the restaurant where I reluctantly agreed to let Chris deem our dinner a date - Blesius Garten

Here we are eight years later, at the restaurant where I reluctantly agreed to let Chris deem our dinner a date - Blesius Garten

I guess what I’m trying to say is, do things that make you uncomfortable. Travel to a country you’ve never been to without your security-blankets, whatever they might be. Wear a polizei cap that’s too small for your head for a holiday you don’t understand. Go to a party where no one speaks your language. Go out with the guy that you don’t want to like but who’s actually perfect for you. That’s the kind of thing that will change your life.

Okay, here are other things we did.

 Trier Amphitheater

Trier Amphitheater

 Trier Amphitheater

Trier Amphitheater

 Trier Roman Baths

Trier Roman Baths

 Porta Nigra

Porta Nigra

 Karl Marx House

Karl Marx House

 Palastgarten

Palastgarten

 Prost, everybody

Prost, everybody

Kameron Jenkins