We bought a rail pass through Rick Steves for Germany since we had a few very long travel days. While there are cheaper options than a rail pass (such as the German regional passes) we really appreciated the lack of thinking required on our parts. Riding the rails with our pass kind of felt like we were using a super efficient public transit. The trains were plentiful, the schedules were excellent and we always had a seat. I am so jealous of how easy it is to get around Germany.
The cities in which we stayed were Cochem, Heidelberg, Munich, Salzburg (Austria), Rothenburg ob der Tauber and Frankfurt. I'll touch upon each one in the next two posts, but the cities we enjoyed the most were Munich, Salzburg and Frankfurt.
Cochem was just a quick one night stop for us. We left Amsterdam that morning and were quickly introduced to the German rail system and just how efficient it was. As in, we missed our stop in the middle of nowhere due to our inability to open the door of the train fast enough. The stop before Cochem was at least an hour out and we feared the next stop we'd have to get off at was just as far. I won't lie, we panicked a little. It was already after 7pm, on a Sunday, and we were hungry and exhausted. Luckily, the next stop was only 15 minutes away and we were able to turn around without any issues. The remainder of our train riding in Germany was spent like this:
The next morning we attempted to find Burg Eltz near the little town of Koblenz. Since we had to check out (and leave money on the table, also not a joke) by 11am, we had to take our stuff with us. We wrongly assumed the train station in Koblenz would have luggage storage. As we emerged from the train into the misty rain and entered the station, we noticed the station was empty. Of anything. No lockers, no rail employees, no people. Assuming (again, wrongly) that there would be some kind of shuttle to the castle, we took off on foot with our bags. Now, I am still a fan of using backpacks while travelling, but that shit gets heavy. And I got whiny, again. I had hurt my foot in Amsterdam (slipping off a curb or something dumb) and it was really bothering me. So we didn't get to see the castle because I am a baby.
Our next stop was the college town of Heidelberg. For those of you that grew up in the Pacific NW, Heidelberg is the German equivalent of Pullman, WA. Absolutely NOTHING going on. We had a really crappy hostel above a supermarket that promised a buffet breakfast but really offered bread (only one piece), jam and cereal. After we dropped our bags, we attempted to explore the city. Here is what we found that first night:
A weird sculpture.
Firebowl. A bowling alley where we played many games of foozeball.
Needless to say, Heidelberg was not winning us over. We kept seeing ads for this awesome pub quarter, but couldn't find it. The next morning we hiked across town to check out the castle. It was gorgeous and historic and awe-inducing.
I feel the city slightly redeemed itself by keeping this castle around and available to explore for reasonably cheap. But I would not go back.
My next post I move on to happier places like Munich and Salzburg. You are excited. I have coined Salzburg Portland's sister city because it is SO WEIRD AND AWESOME.