An early start, a big breakky.....travelling to do! Although I had allowed plenty of time to get to Stuttgart Hbf, I ended up with only one minute to spare when I finally landed on the correct platform...(a bit of a challenge negotiating the German stations and German language!)
This section of the trip was supposedly a very picturesque journey along the Rhine and was the main reason I had chosen to travel through this part of Germany....With time on my side, I stored my bag, hopped on EC 101 back south to Mainz = 3 hour return trip! I was going to check the area out regardless of whether the scenery was worth it or not!!........I was definitely making the most of my Eurail pass!!!
OH MY!!!...........I am SO fortunate not to have let this opportunity pass by...I had hoped to get a glimpse of the Rhine and maybe some of its productivity – vineyards and water traffic.....however, as the train journey between Cologne, Koblenz and Mainz, HUGS the riverside for 80% of the journey.....not only did I experience the beauty once ....but my pleasure was doubled, as I returned to Cologne to retrieve my bag!
The Rhine is Europe’s most important inland waterway and flows past some of its most beautiful landscapes. The Middle Rhine, experienced by me today, boasts many of them and is deemed the its most attractive section! Germany’s 14 wine growing regions lie along the Rhine mainly producing white wine. These vineyards line the banks of the wide river, together with its romantic towns and fairytale castles perched high along the hillsides. This section was classified a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2002. The Rhine begins in the Alps – section of which I have traversed – and ends in the North Sea. I now understand why people come from all over the world to cruise the Middle Rhine....”GT, I know your Auntie and Uncle will LOVE it!”
Koln: When the luggage storage opened its small door and swallowed my bag, I hoped desperately that I would know how to get it back!! Fortunately when I arrived at the storage, there was another English speaking couple retrieving their bag for the first time! They understood my anxiety and quelled it instantly; as their bag magically appeared...It all seemed easy...! I put my ticket in the slot...and the machine asked for money...expecting this, I fed the appropriate amount.....but no pink ribboned, bag appeared....mmmm....my anxieties were materialising!!! It spat out another ticket....and then suddenly, I realised that I had been asking it to store another piece of luggage...money wasted....but when I inserted my original ticket into the retrieval slot...BINGO...my bag appeared!....(I am realising that, to prevent these challenges, a basic understanding of German language would be a useful!!)
With an hour to spare, I accessed a tour guide to find out what Cologne was renowned for. To my surprise, 3 of the noted landmarks were just outside the Hauphanhauf...so off I went, out into the rain, to take the mandatory tourist pics...!!
#1= One of the tallest Cathedrals in Germany, #2= The Musical Dome and #3= The Bridge spanning the Rhine.
Excited to be heading back to Hamburg....I took in as much of the beautiful, undulating countryside as I could....until it flattened out, which was when I knew I was nearing home base! The scenic route to get to GT’s apartment!!...then a night of nonstop sharing stories and pics.....well actually the discussion was very one sided. ...Thanks GT for your patience and interest and for helping give me this amazing opportunity to travel!