June 26th to July 14th 2015
Friday, June 26th
The summer trip this year is for Germany. A place that I have often passed through, spend a few days in cities, but never really visited.
After end of work, I get the bus for Billund. Then a flight to Frankfurt, and finally a train to Cologne. I arrive at 10 pm where I check in at room 228 at Hotel Mondial Am Dom. The TV does not work. However, there are 2 pieces of chocolate waiting for me on the bed. We are off.
Saturday, June 27th
Another great breakfast at a German hotel. When it comes to “value for money” German hotels are in the top. The weather is nice as well. Therefore, it is time for a long walk. I follow The Rhine all the way to the Cologne Zoo. Now and then, I visit a zoo. This one is nice. Not to small – not too big. Plenty of animals and great photo opportunities. A great place to spend a few hours.
Then I head back home again. This time through the city. Lunch is at a cozy bar with a huge Riesenschnitzel. And a local beer – Kölsch – as well. It cold and refreshing. It is 4 pm as I arrive back at the hotel.
I have a break for a couple of hours. Then I head out again. A walk around Altstadt. Passing the old Town Hall and then on to the Kölner Don – the highlight in the city. It is enormous. Inside a mass is taking place. No sightseeing then. I head down for the river Rhine again. This time in the other direction. There are 20.000 hen and stag-parties going on. I return to the hotel bringing dinner from Subway. It is TV and football. The TV has been fixed.
Sunday, June 28th
First a true tourist-thing. A river-cruise on the Rhine. Nice and relaxing. Then a serious walk. I am heading for the Belgisches Viertal. Not many Kölners on the street this morning. Either they are at church or they are having hangovers – probably the last. Belgisches Viertel is a cozy area. Relaxing and no tourists. I spend a little time here. Some of it just sitting on a bench. Then back to city-center. The walk is about an hour. Lunch is picked up at Hauptbahnhof and taken back to room 228.
Later across the street to Kölner Dom again. This time with a chance for an indoor visit. At least a small one. We are kicked out again, as another mass is going to happen. There are six on a Sunday like this. Instead a head over to Hohenzollernbrück. It is a nice old iron bridge across the river. Newlyweds hang up padlocks. There are many. That could explain the partying last night.
Dinner is at the hotels Biergarten – with Kölsch.
Monday, June 29th
Weiterfahren. Exit Cologne by train at 10 am. 1½ hour later, I am in St. Goar. St. Goar is a neat little village by the river Rhine. There are a couple of sights nearby. It takes 3 minutes to walk from the railway station to Hotel Rheinfals. My room is not ready, so I leave my luggage and head out for sight no. 1.
It is called Burg Rheinfals. A small tourist-train take a handful of tourists up there. The castle is from 1245, and used to be one of the mightiest along The Rhine. Now it is a ruin, but an interesting one. There are some dark corridors beneath the ruin as well. The view of the city and the river is great too.
After a couple of hours, it is down again on the train. Pizza at a café on one of the three streets in St. Goar. Then room 301 is ready. It is not big, but the views out the window is fantastic. I can sit and watch the river with boats and barges passing by. You get a lot for 55 € in this country.
Time for a nap, before the second trip of the day. It is a walk along the river. It is very beautiful and the weather is nice too. There are not many tourists. It seems like the German tourist season have not started yet. Schnitzel for dinner at a restaurant – a bad one. Then some shopping at a gas station – the only shop I can find open tonight. Then back to my hotel and my room with a view.
Tuesday, June 30th
I admit it. I did not do well in German at school. The grammar was not for me. However, I remember the story of Lorelei, and how The Siren sang so beautiful that a lot of ship went aground on the river. Then there is Herman Hesse’s poem about Lorelei – “Ich Weiss nicht was sol es bedeuten”. Today I will visit Lorelei.
First, I cross the river on a small boat to St. Goarshausen. Then I take a local bus to the top of Lorelei. The views from up here are spectacular. The weather is 100 % sunshine. You look down onto the river and the boats and trains down there look all like miniatures. However, they do not go aground, so maybe the story is just bullshit. It is a great place to spend a few hours just admiring the views and eating ice cream.
The rest of the day is used for two small city walks in the small villages of St. Goar and St. Goarshausen on each side of the river. I was considering a cruise on the river, but all people waiting for the boat is +70, so I reconsider. Dinner is Chinese – they seem to be in every corner of the world. Then in the evening, I can sit in my room – just looking out.
Wednesday, July 1st
Time for another change. I take a train for nearby train station at 10.20. Change in Binnen. Then something unusual – a delayed German train. 45 minutes late when we reach next stop – Heidelberg.
I am a bit lazy as usual. I grab a taxi to my hotel. It is Hotel Regina and I find the walk from the railway station to long. Room 25 is ready for me and I start with a nap. Then out into town. Well – lunch first of course – in a supermarket cross the street.
Heidelberg is a neat place. One of Europe’s finest and oldest universities is here. I check out the oldest parts. There is a great hall with pink chairs. There is an old prison as well. Back in the old days, the University had legal authority, so they could put the students into jail for some days. The students obviously used these days for a little break, painted graffiti, and wrote poems on the walls. Somehow – things never change.
Then I head on. It is hot today. 35 degrees. Back to the hotel for a break.
Dinner at McDonalds. I do this mistake now and then. It taste like shit, and just around the corner, there is a student area with cheap restaurants. Stupid. Coffee to go back to the hotel with some donuts. There is no view from room 25, but a nice balcony with chairs. Perfect.
Thursday, July 2nd
It is still very hot. Today there will be a morning trip and an evening trip.
In the morning, I visit the top sight in Heidelberg called Schloss Heidelberg. I take a funicular up there. That is stupid, since it is not a long walk. Then I walk around the castle and the area. It is more like a ruin. According to my guidebook, it is a Renaissance castle. What that means I don’t know. Nevertheless, it is nice, red colored and has many nice small features. From the castle, I head down into Altstadt. I take a look at Alte Brücke crossing the river Neckar. Then back to the hotel for a break.
I do a little laundry in my room, head out for lunch, relax and read a bit in the hot afternoon hours.
The evening is another visit to Altstadt. There are plenty of small alleys called “gasse’s”. Beautiful buildings too. It is an academic city – and wealthy too. Dinner at Zum Rothen Ochse. Piano music, Japanese tourists, Schnitzel and Weissbier. Then back to my hotel via the alleys and the very very long pedestrian street.
Friday, July 3nd
It is terrible hot today. However, this is vacation – and I decide what is going on. Today’s morning trip is along Philosophenweg. It is on the other side of the river Necker. It is pretty steep into the hills. The views across the river and the city is fine. At the top, there is a bench. I sit down to philosophize. Nothing good comes out of that. I take the Schlangenweg down to Alte Brücke. Then back home to the hotel for a shower and a break.
Afternoon is only lunch and a visit to the local Bäckerei. They know me by now. Pretty embarrassing.
The evening walk is away from the tourist route. I cross the river and head into the area called Neuheimer. This is huge villa’s mostly owned by Doctor this and Doctor that. Many Doctors in this city. They must be sick a lot. Probably because of the Philosophenweg. Down by the river the youth is gathering bringing beer and music for a spontaneous night party.
Saturday, July 4th
I am leaving Heidelberg. A lovely city, where I could have seen more if it wasn’t so damn hot. It’s a taxi to the railway station again. The train leaves at 10.13. Then I change in Karlsruhe and at 12.38, I arrive in Triberg in Schwartzwald. I have booked a taxi to take me the 2 km uphill to Triberg City and Hotel Pfaff. I get room no. 6. It is very small and quite uncomfortable – but it was cheap. Just outside there is a balcony with views of the small village.
After lunch, I head back to the railway station. This time by foot. There is a walk starting at the railway station telling about the making of the Schwarzwaldbahn, that crisscrosses this area. The walk is rather boring though, with only a few posters in German telling something. However, suddenly I meet a sensation. The world’s largest cuckoo clock. It is at a cuckoo clock factory, a huge cuckoo clock shop and on the back, there is another big cuckoo clock, that you can make cuckoo on demand by putting a euro into a slot. This is absolutely kitsch. I can no longer focus on my educational walk, and head back home via some shopping in a local Lidl.
The hotel doubles as restaurant, so it’s easy to pick a place for dinner. Today’s piece of meat is taken here, with a refreshing Radler as supplement. Finally, an evening stroll in the small village.
Sunday, July 5th
Just across the road is Germany’s biggest waterfall. Rather – some say it’s only second, but no. 1 is not as accessible as this one – so this is promoted as no. 1. Never mind – I cross the road and walks up there. It’s nice and handsome, but Niagara and Foz Iguazu should not feel threatened. Up in the woods there’s another fine walk. It ends at a small lake with a kiosk selling ice-cream. That’s always a good feature. Then I return to Stadtmitte.
The rest of the day is spend on some small walks around Triberg and Tour de France on the TV during the hot hours. There’s a lot of tourist-kitsch in this village, but some of it is pretty fun. And it’s strange. No matter where you are going, it seems to be uphill.
Monday, July 6th
It has been raining this night. That’s nice. Temperatures has dropped 8-10 degrees. Breakfast at 9 am. We are only 3 people at the hotel, so there is not much to choose from, but it’s fine. Then I head out for a long and fine walk in the woods and hills around Triberg. You don’t meet other tourists. They stick to the village and the stupid cuckoo clock shops. I spend a few hours among the trees with views of the village and the area, before heading back.
Next trip is for a museum. The Schwartzwald-Museum is just next to the hotel. It contains a lot of stuff from the old Schwartzwald area, and is pretty exciting. There are clocks, dolls, porcelain and things like that. Much the most fun is the mechanical music boxes, playing by themselves if you put a coin into the slot. It’s impressive that they have been able to make them – and that they still work.
Lunch is substituted by coffee and cake at a Bäckerei today. They are good at cakes in this place. Tour de France and relaxing at the hotel. Dinner as well.
Tuesday, July 7th
End of Triberg. Next stop is Freiburg. This time I walk to the railway station. It’s downhill. Deutsche Bahn is taking the piss on me. The train leaves from platform 1 while I wait at platform 2. One hour to next train. However, the trip to Freiburg is free. All tourists sleeping in Schwartzwald get a free KONUS-card for public transport in the area – including Freiburg. I change train in Offenburg and reach Freiburg at 1 pm.
There is a 20-minute walk to Hotel Oberkirch. Room is not ready yet, so there is time for lunch and a visit to Freiburg Münster – the local Dom. It’s a big thing from 11’th century. They are doing some repair-work. Fair enough – considering the age.
Then back to the hotel, just next door. Check in to room 24. Great hotel – much better than my normal standard. Mineral water and fruit in the room. Time for a shower and relax with Tour de France.
The evening walk is a random one. There are lots of small streets and alleys. Cold water is running in a stream at many streets. A local tradition. The locals enjoy it, cooling their feet. In front of Münster there is a wine-festival. The locals go from stand to stand to try the local wine. This is wine-country. White wine.
Wednesday, July 8th
Yahoo. Cloudy and temperature drop by 10 degrees. It’s almost too cold to sit outside for breakfast.
First activity is necessary. Washing my clothes. I have found a money laundry close to the railway station. Nice play with a friendly Chinese owner. While washing I take a look at the area. Not in the guidebook, but nice and cozy. Practicing my street-photography skills. Spending a couple of hours.
Afternoon trip is with a funicular up to Schlossberg. Nice place, but the views are not that interesting. Trees are blocking most of it. There is a tower up there, but it is closed. They are afraid that it’s going to collapse. Fair enough. Instead, I head back to Altstadt.
Dinner at a local supermarket, and an evening stroll in beautiful Freiburg. I take many pictures around the old Town Hall. When I return home another evidence that this is a fine place. A packet of gummi bears is waiting for me. It feels almost natural to watch Udo Jürgens on the TV then.
Thursday, July 9th
A quiet day in Freiburg. The night has been a little noisy. Some roadwork just outside the hotel. However, when I get my breakfast I am happy again. Then I visit the Augustinermuseum. It’s an old convent, turned into an art museum. Primarily religious art. Second Hand things from The Münster. The building is nice and there’s a fine café. Time for lunch and a break.
Some more sightseeing in the afternoon. A City Museum is very small and boring, but free because it was included in the Augustiner ticket. Same goes for the University Museum. It’s free too.
Still more hanging out in the evening. Nice pasta dinner. Some children are doing a circus in front of the Münster. That’s not impressive. I return to the hotel, and call this a day.
Friday, July 10th
Day trip to Baden-Baden. “So nice that you have to name it twice” said Bill Clinton about the city. It was a plan on my original schedule to spend some time her, but I did not have the time. Instead, I do a day trip from Freiburg.
I buy a Baden-Württemberg ticket at the railway station. Valid all day, both to and from Baden-Baden for 23€. The railway station in Baden-Baden is 4 km outside town so you have to get a bus. Baden-Baden is for the very very rich. Moreover, a snobbish city if you ask me. Nevertheless, nice. First stop is Trinkhalle. A promising name, but not much is going on here. Then I head on to Kurhaus and the Casino. The Casino is closed, but I look through the window. It is one of the oldest and fanciest in Europe. I wouldn’t be able to get inside anyway. I do not have the necessary clothes.
Outside they are preparing an Old Time Car Show. Five Rolls Royce’s has showed up. The owners of these can probably get into the Casino. I head down to the also very fancy park at Lichtenberger Allee. Nice lawns, sculptures, snobbish people – and then me. Lunch is together with other snobbish at the Tennis Club. Then I head on. Look at the fancy buildings and hotels. At three, I’ve had enough. Bus for the railway station and back to Freiburg and reality.
Freiburg is also a fine and cozy town. The number of beggars is a surprise tom me. Dinner is at a Döner Kebab on a street corner. The gummibears await me in my hotel room.
Saturday, July 11th
Church bells wake me up in the morning. Much nicer than an alarm clock. Then out for breakfast. As usual, it’s “grossartig”. Shame you can’t eat all there is to choose from.
I check out of Freiburg. At 11 I take the super comfy ICE-train to Frankfurt. First Class – as it was cheap when I bought the ticket. 2 hours later, I arrive at Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof. Hotel Hamburger Hof is just next door. I check in to room 403.
First a break then a walk. First walk is without a plan. It takes me past the sleazy railway station area, then to Innenstadt with some big Squares, a lot of shopping and the Frankfurt Skyline. Then on to a park around the city center, before ending up in an ethnic area before I’m done. I take the U-bahn back.
Time for my usual Tour de France break. In the evening, I check out my local area. It’s hotels, restaurants and drug-dealers. I end up in my room 403 with a fine view across the roof of the railway station. About every minute, a plane comes in over the roof. It’s on the route to the airport just outside town. Any flight spotters dream.
Sunday, July 12th
There is a Chinese girl at the table next to me at breakfast. She fills up 5 plates with watermelon, fruit, cold cuts, bread and 4 cakes on top. I think she has picked up for a whole group – but no. She sits down, starting with plate no. 1 and continue until it’s all done. Impressed.
Well – that’s got nothing to do with my trip. Today’s first walk is around the railway station, crossing a bridge over the river Main, along the river, crossing the river again and then I am at Frankfurter Dom. It’s Sunday morning so they are busy. I only see from outside.
I’m in the part of Frankfurt called Altstadt. Here I found the major sight in Frankfurt called Römerberg – a nice square. Here are timbered houses galore. They all look like they were made in the 14th century, but it’s a lie. They were destroyed during WW2 and was rebuilt in the old style later. One of the most beautiful is the old Town Hall. When Germany return from winning a big tournament in football, it’s usually celebrated here.
From Römerberg I take a tram back to my hotel. Lunch is picked up at the railway station.
My afternoon trip goes into the heights. I visit Main Tower and take the lift to 56th floor. There’s a viewing platform, and nice views over Frankfurt. From up here it all looks like a miniature town. You can see the Frankfurt Stadium and the Airport in the horizon. I’m surprised how much forest that is around Frankfurt.
Just next to is the Alte Oper – The Old Opera. Again – they are cheating. It was rebuild in the old style in the seventies. From here, it’s an S-Bahn back to the hotel. Dinner at Burger King at the railway station, brought back to the hotel. For some strange reason I have always preferred Burger King to McD.
Monday, July 13th
Another day in Frankfurt. I start by going out to IG Farbens former headquarter. IG Farben was the “founder” of famous industries like AGFA, BASF and Bayer. They played a not very nice role during WW2. They were producing Zyklon, which was used in gas chambers. Of course by slave laborers. The allied wasn’t too happy with that, and took over IG Farbens headquarter using it as a headquarter for the allied instead. Now it functions as the main building at the Goethe University of Frankfurt. On the 2nd floor there’s a small exhibition. After this visit I take a look around the area called Westend. This is not a place for the poor.
Then back into Altstadt for a photo exhibition on the Museum of Modern Art. However, it’s closed Mondays. Instead another walk around, watching people shopping. I never understand why. How can so many people be missing so much. My only shot is in the electronic shop Saturn. But I don’t find anything that I think I am missing. Therefore, it’s back to the hotel.
Afternoon walk is along the river Main to Willy Brand Square, with the famous and very ugly €-sign. There’s also a new theatre – almost as ugly. Then again – down to Main – crossing the bridge Eisenersteg. Another one full of padlocks from people getting married.
I have to bring something back home, so later I head out for the supermarket called REWA to buy 5 bags of gummi bears. Another dinner from Burger King at the railway station. By the way – this railway station simple smells like one big pissoir.
Tuesday, July 14th
Well – that was it. Time to go home. What I will miss the most is just getting out of the bed to find huge breakfast available.
I was thinking photo exhibition this morning, but no. I can do streaming at the hotel, so I pick up a couple of TV-series, before heading to the airport at noon.
I’m leaving for Billund at 4.40. Arrival at 6 pm. Bus to Vejle and train to Aarhus. Back home at 8 pm.