Germany - First Solo Trip
Trip Start Sep 01, 2007
1Trip End Sep 09, 2007
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I went to Bacharach for the Marksburg Castle and I realised that each town has its own church and each were as unique as it is
Cruising on the Rhine River is actually quite boring and its very slow. Occasionally will spot some nice & unique buildings but most of the time there is nothing much except the river and the greens. I do hope that they can have either music along the way or more narration. The cruise that I took brought me to the town of Bacharach which has one of the most unique and beautiful buildings. The cuckoo clock is very famous here in Germany but they are quite expensive.
My first hiccup here in St Goar - I boarded the return cruise which does not goes to St Gauhausen where I need to board the passenger ferry back to my hostel in St Goar! It is frustrating because I confronted the person in charge asking what I should do next, they can't speak good english and in the end one of them told me to take the cruise with them till the next big town which is one hour away! I am angry because the person who checked my ticket when I board did not check carefully and let me board this cruise without realising that the end destination is wrong for me. In the end, due to their incompetence, I approached a family at Assmannshausen to check if there is any train station there
Word of advice for people travelling alone, try not to plan the start of your trip on a weekend especially to town because practically the tourist office is closed and its hard to obtain a map than.
Day 3 (Koblenz/Trier): Rain rain rain... Early in the morning its raining! The clouds seemed like a passing clouds so hopefully in Koblenz/Trier will not rain. I was able to taste germany wine this morning. The wine is good to me because its a little sweet yet not so sweet and its easy and smooth to swallow. If I am not back packing, I might consider getting one bottle back to UK (I do recommend people to taste/buy the wine).
When I reached Koblenz, its still raining. If raining is not enough, the journey to the youth hostel make it more worse. First of all, the hostel can only be reached by a bus and secondly, from the bus stop, its another 1.5km up a steep slope (18 deg steep, got a photo as my evidence)
Oh yah, apart from my journey, I realised one thing
Back to the trip, Porta Nigra was not that fantastic at all. Trier is basically like a student town just like in cambridge or oxford. A lot more young people here. Its a pity that I do not have enough time to tour the maketplaz. It seemed like a nice area. Internet here is very cheap compared to St Goar. In St Goar, it cost 6 Euro for 1hour! Maybe because its monopoly, that's why the cafe charge high price. Here, the intenet cost 1 Euro for an hour! That is more than half time cheaper!
Seriously speaking, time flies. I have been in Germany for 3 days now. Another 5 more days and I will be back. I cannot believe that I am so brave. Give me a pat on my shoulder. :)
As I was taking the train back, I noticed that Tries-Karden is a place for water sport
Day 4 (Cologne aka Koln): Start of the day, RAIN!! Did not sleep well last night because my whole body was aching! I think I will need to go for some massage when I am back in Birmingham & when I am back in Singapore, I think I will need to see a chinese SinSei, think there is some problem with my shoulder. A good backpack is really important. I think mine is not really that comfortable type so it add on to the pain in my shoulder. People, invest in one that is really good. The first thing that I noticed today is that why is it that some people do not have to pay anything or show any pass when they board the bus? They got up from the back door and that's it. Hmm... I could have saved some money if I have know the trick (if there are in the first place)? Another thing that I have learnt from this trip is that when purchasing train ticket and was given a few options and when you cannot understand a shit what was written on the screen, always goes for the first option. Well, so far it works for me pretty well. :)
Argh!! Now than I realised that Koblenz Ehrenbreitstein station was near to my hostel. So anyone of you who are thinking of staying in the castle youth hostel in Koblenz can consider taking train to Koblenz Ehrenbreitstein station and walk to the hostel
In the past 3 days, I have seen quite a number of graffities on the walls in the subway, on the trains etc. I must say that Germany graffities are actually very artistic and colourful. It is like a piece of art painted on walls. So far I have not seen one that is either ugly or dirty. Regret not taking the photos in the subway at one of the town that I visited. I can still remember one of it is a painting of a big fish. I don't know why I am drawn to this picture but it does leaves an impression.
The first thing that wow me when I reached Cologne is of course its DOM, cathedral. It is magnificent, majestic and unique. This architechture simply draws you towards it. I have read from Lonely planet that it is worth climbing one of the tower for its view (509 steps altogether and it takes around 30 mins to go up and down, all of it for 1 Euro for students). While I was climbing, I felt a little giddy because the way up is through a spiral staircase which goes round and round and round. Occasionally there are a few windows to look out but even so, being narrow and spiraling, it is giddy. When I reached the top, the view is really worth the climb. It is a pity though that the surrounding were all wired up to protect the building outside. At one point of time while I was climbing up, I am a little petrified because for someone who is slightly afraid of height, it is a challenge
Next I went into the Cathedral but they were having a mass than so I couldn't walk into the middle to take photos or take a look. In the end, I tour the exterior and part of the interior and went straight to the Roman museum recommended by Lonely planet which is situated just beside the Cathedral. What Lonely Planet mentioned is true. Even if you do not fancy Roman history, this museum is interesting with lots and lots of sculptures to see. Amazingly, I spent almost 2 hours there (I can really spend my whole time in a museum). After this visit to the museum I decided to go back to the Cathedral again not wanting to waste my money and trip there. Luckily for me, the mass was over and I am just in time for the 230pm english guided tour. It cost 4 Euro for students and it is paid to the tour guide directly. The tour guide is a German and speak excellent English. The tour began with a walk into the history of the Cathedral which I shall not bored all of you here. To find out more about that, check internet. I found this website really good (http://www.sacred-destinations.com/germany/cologne-cathedral .htm ). She brought us into an area to see the relic of 3 Magi (only with the guided tours) It was said that this relic contains the skull with crown of the 3 magi. The bodies/skeletons have been wrapped up. Every year on the 8th Jan, they will open the relic and the gates to allow public to pray and take a close look. The container were made of gold and there are figures on the exterior
After this tour of the relic, we moved on to see the first glass window which is still in good condition after hundreds of years. That particular window is special because on the left side, its the old testiment while on the other side is the new testiment. You can clearly see the similarity and difference between the two. This window was placed on the east side of the Cathedral so that when the sun rises, it will light up that window and according to medieval time, the people believe that this is a way of god talking to them and making them see the light. Since olden day people do not know how to read and write, pictures and signs are what they look out for.
Another section that is worth mentioning here is the area which shows Jesus Crucification. That is known as Jesus moment of Death. The reason being that most cathedral and churches showed jesus being crucified with open eyes and blood on the wood and feets being nailed together while for this, it is his moment of death because his eyes were closed with his head bending slightly on the shoulder, the bleeding has stopped and the feets were placed side by side to symbolise that he has floated to heaven
After one last look at the Cathedral, I went to SHOP. However, I find it a bit uncomfortable to shop in a place where language is a barrier to me or maybe because I shop only to kill time and I don't really have things that I want to buy. Nonetheless, I did buy a fleece jacket which has the feature that I want and so far I think only Germany have. The sleeves at the wrist has a hole in which the thumb can go through and it acted like a glove. Its a pity that I do not have my German friends with me because I want to taste local food but due to language barrier its hard for me to order :(
Tomorrow I will be going to one of the loveliest place, ROTHENBURG!!
Day 5 (Rothenburg): Its lovely travelling in the early morning. Its 745am and the view with the combination of sun, low level cloud and a little fog makes the town look stunning. I am looking forward to Rothenburg. Some information on taking the EC train, if there are no reservation on the train ticket, you are allowed to sit in any of the 2nd class cabin. I got a hard time dragging my backpack to realise that (the walk way is really narrow and some people simply don't know the meaning of give way)
A lot of tourists today (especially Japanese & Chinese). Its a little funny because when I told some Germans that I going to Rothenburg, they have never heard of this town before and yet so many tourists visit this town. I guess it happen in all countries, hence I am making it a point to know Singapore well enough when I go back. Everything in Rothenburg tells a story. The St Jacob's church is famous for its altars "Heilig Blut Altar" aka Holy Blood Altar. It is originates from a relic, a drop of Christ's blood. This relic turned Rothenburg into a major place of pilgrimage with a growing number of pilgrims in the Middle Ages. Another attraction here is the German x'mas shop. It is so nicely decorated, you will feel like a fairy tale come true. Believe it or not, I almost got lost in one of the xmas shop (that one with the German xmas museum)
Back in the hostel, I befriended 2 girls. One is from Japan and the other one is from Holland. I clicked really well with the Holland girl. She is one of my idol in the trip. She cycled from Holland all the way to Germany. She is the 2nd biker I have known from this trip. Maybe I will try that along the Rhine river for my next German trip. She is really brave. She not only cycle alone, she camp alone too. I believe if I want to, I will be able to survive pretty well too.
By the way, I have tried the town famous snacks called "Schenneze" (or something like that, can't really remember). Its basically biscuit roll into ball type. I bought the chocolate hazel flavour because I find the original a bit plain. However, I find it tasted a bit like Singapore chinese biscuit, those that twirl around and sugar coated. You will normally find it when praying. I also tried their sausages. Its delicious!! I can never get tired of sausages. Today quite tired so think will turn in earlier. My holland friend invited me to join her for a night tour but my calves are too swollen to walk anymore. Sigh, as much as I would like to join her, I can't. Okay, turning in now. More tommorrow.
Day 6 (Rothenburg): I have a personal alarm clock this morning although the timing is a bit too early for me. On the same floor as me are a bunch of students from Germany. They were shouting, banging the doors, running etc. Horrible!
After that I went shopping in the town. I had always wanted to get the beer Stein for my sister and father. They are unique and its good in keeping away flies or anything of the sort because it has a cover but the price kept me away form buying it. However, in the end, I still bought two because I feel that if I don't get it, I will definitely regret it when I go back. Do not leave in Regret, that's my moto. Haha.. Now I am waiting for 8pm to come for the night watchman tour. This tour was recommended by Lonely Planet and also from a few forums. Well, time for the tour! The english night watchman tour has a lot of people (definitely more than 30). I didn't really expect that actually. Talking about Singaporean being Kiasu, wait till you join the tour. Those tall guys (when I say tall, they are tall, taller than the night watchman which should be aroung 1.75m) kept walking so fast to be in the front! Me being short, always got blocked by them! In the end, I have to walk in front of them to get a "safe" view of the night watchman. Apart from them, there are a few older couples too, walked so fast almost small jog to get to the front! So never comment tha Singaporean are very kiasu in a bad way!
Back in my hostel, I have another 3 room mates. All from JAPAN! WOW... There are so many japanese in Rothenburg. There is one particular Japanese who is touring the world for a year!
Oh no, the kids are making noise again! When will this stop?? Sigh.. there is another which kind of piss me off. I think that staying in a hostel, everyone got to be more considerate and understanding, that's how hostel run isn't it? I went to bed early and was the first one to sleep. The lights were still on when I slept and I thought that my roomies needed the light to read or do their things so I didn't do anything. However, at around 12am (when the kids noise finally subsided after a few talks by me), the lights were still on and the mad thing is that everyone else were asleep!! The last person who needed the light cannot be bothered to switch it off!! My goodness!! Some of the rather sleep with the blanket over their head than to switch it off. Sigh.. what a night.
Day 7 (Heidelberg): This morning I am so sleepy. Maybe due to sleep too late last night (due to the noise and the light). Normally I will enjoy the view from the train but today I just sleep
The youth hostel and around the youth hostel do not have any international phone so anyone who would like one will need to take the bus to city area for one. Also, the hostel charged 1 Euro for 10 mins of internet usage! Way too expensive (it is the same as in St Goar). Better to get to town for one. Throughout my stay, the best hostel I must say is in Heidelberg. The shower is superb (not extremely spacious but comfortable enough), the heater in the shower room was on too so when you get out of the shower area to dry yourself, you won't feel cold at all. They also have vending machine which sells hot water and soup!! That is so nice when the weather turn cold. Nothing major happen today so I will end here than.
Day 8 (Heidelberg): I got to know 2 Germans who came here individually to find accommodation before their school start in Oct in Heidelberg
Travelled to the old town in the morning and climbed the stairs to the castle. Seriously speaking, the castle does not have as fantastic view as the one in Scotland (Tantallon Castle) but it is still unique in its own way. The walls have statues in them and it does look spectacular. Unfortunately, I did not take any photos on that because taking photos all day so feeling a little tired to snap them. I just want to enjoy the view purely. While touring the castle, I got to befriend a photographer named Koby. He worked there and earn by taking group photos for tours in front of one of the wall with all the statues. This is his part time job only. He still have another permanant job. He is an experienced traveller and we talked mostly on things that happened to him during some of his trips
It is true that when people travel alone, they tend to see more things, experience more and learn more. After the castle, I went to a few places. One of which is recommended by Lonely Planet. The "Brass Monkey". Legend said that touching the mirror will bring $$, the mouse should be children and the hand (I forgot what it means). Of couse for me, I touched and rubbed the mirror a few times. Hee.. Next, I went to the student prison. A waste of money. It is only 3 storey high with lots of graffities on the wall and ceiling. As expected, all graffitties are in Germans so I am not able to appreciate the humors drawn on the wall.
The street along the old town has a lot of cafeteria and departmental stores. I went shopping for a while before going for the 615pm organ musical in the chapel. For student, it only cost 4 Euro and lasted for more than 1.5 hours. Seriously speaking, I had set the expectation too high. I thought the music with the organ will be very grand and holy but I don't find it as fantastic. The piece is Bach's music. After a while, I start to notice people leaving and starting to doze off. I guess lots of classical musicians like to use sharp/flat notes that's why it sounded a bit odd (to me) and boring. I left in the middle of the music because I have to catch a bus back to the hostel for my backpack and proceed to the airport for the night
At the airport, its another story. Unless you are one who are experienced, most of the people tried to sleep comfortably but not many are able to so do (including myself). There is a lady who slept on the floor and she seemed comfortable there. Actually I find a sleeping mat is very useful to use in this area. Sleeping bag is useful too but because it is more expensive, I do not want to dirty the exterior so in the end, I tried sleeping on the chair. The chair is definitely not a good place to sleep. In the end, I only catched a few hours (on off on off) of sleep. Felt so relieved and tired when I reached back home.
That is the end of my Germany trip. Hope you have enjoy like I enjoy. Take care!!