The pleasures, and kindness, of Trier
I have been to Trier for a couple of days, to see a trio of exhibitions on the Emperor Nero. You will be able to read a review of these in the TLS in a couple of weeks, so I'm not going to preempt that now. But here's a bit of background and tourst info.
Trier is one of the biggest and best Roman towns in the West, with a standing city gate, the 'Porta Nigra' (you can see that in the picture above with the mock soldiers -- a monument preserved, as they so often are, because it was converted into a church). It had its glory days in the late Roman empire, when it became one of the mini capitals outside Rome. We went there to film parts of the last episode of Ultimate Rome -- it was damn cold and snowing (and I was happily introduced to handwarmers!) but still it left a good memory.
So it was with a certain pleasure that I went back in search of Nero (and especially, as it was the theme of one of the three shows, the afterlife of Nero -- close to the subject of my current research project).
I stayed, where we had stayed before, in the Hotel Mercure Porta Nigra (perfectly just across the street from the gate) and did the three Nero shows with rather obsessional intensity. That meant rather less time and attention on the other things worth seeing there (the Rheinisches Landesmuseum has a truly extraordinary collection of Roman provincial art .. and a good excuse for another trip).
But the thing I will remember is quite how nice and friendly everyone was. I had discovered that on my last visit. As we were filming, I put my notebook down on top of a radiator in the Porta Nigra, knowing that it was a colossally stupod place to put it as I would be bound to forget it.. as indeed I did. It wasn't life threatening, but annoying; and I kicked myself...
... until about a week later I got an email from a man who had found it (my email address was on the front page), offering to send it back to the UK, which he indeed he did.
It was a tremendous act of kindness, matched again on this occassion -- when I managed to leave my mobile phone in a cab. I assumed that it was gone for good. But the combination of the hotel receptionist, the museum cloakroom staff (who had booked the cab), and the driver himself produced it in the hotel bar within 30 minutes of me realising I had lost it.
So very good memories. If you want to get there, it's more accessible than you might think -- half an hour's drive from Luxembourg airport across an open Schengen border.