Harz Mountains and Rhine Valley, Germany, April 2016
Tuesday 19th April
Pre holiday journey on Tuesday, sunny day for the journey, down to London, locally still cold hence warmer coat while London much warmer. Found the Pizza Express I used last August -prices increased. 3 courses with alcohol. Travelogue is OK but need to verify check in times for next holiday as they claim front door only operates by keycard after 10pm.
Wednesday 20th April
Today is travel to Koln via Brussels.
Morning was boring, all that waiting around. Eurostar was nice, served a light meal on board. Short time to kill in Brussels, departed on time although doors slow to open. This became problem at Leige when train stopped, doors wouldn’t open initially. Had to reset the train and I think they used the rear engine to power to next stop, Aachen when we swapped with an inbound train. Our original train went back to Brussels while we took the other train back the direction it had come from. Eventually got to Koln about 1 hour late. When we arrived it was straight to restaurant for meal. Only had 2 courses as it was about 9 pm by that time. Lifts and doors operated by key card system. Even in the lift it wouldn’t move without keycard use, stupid, would have helped if someone had explained this. In room after 10 pm.
Thursday 21st April
Koln to Hannover by rail then coach to Wernigerode.
Didn’t understand the coach transfer back to the station. Seemed a very roundabout way for a short trip, crossed the Rhine twice and the hotel again. Train journey started late as they brought it in on different platform. First class seats again, that’s all train journey’s so far, as expected. Coach transfer from Hannover was very good. Stopped in Goslar for over 2 hours. Time to walk around, enjoy the sun. Arrived in Wernigerode about 5.30 pm. Not looked around, just unpacked and relaxed. Not sure what I’m doing tomorrow. This place and the Harz mountains are in the former East Germany.
Friday 22nd April
A day free to explore the area after all the travelling.
Morning walk/climb up to the town’s castle. Walk around up there, didn’t go in, went below the cafe to the fountain and “grotto” man, smell of the flowers hit you at bottom level. Then walk back into town and just around the market and shops. Afternoon spent in Lustgarden, very nice area with footpaths through area, plenty of trees and bird song.
Saturday 23rd April
Coach to Alexisbad, then on train on Selke Valley Railway supposedly taking us all the way but, it didn’t. We used coach to transfer to Quedlinburg after 50 minute train trip. Meant we had longer in town, too long if you ask me. Quedlinburg wasn’t very busy for a Saturday afternoon. Good walk up to castle with lovely views over the area, nice herb garden, not able to see terraces as closed off. Nice roundabout route back to Wernigerode. Drive knows the roads, works part time for local bus company and does the school runs, very safe on narrow roads.
Sunday 24th April
From local rail station join Brocken Railway for trip to summit of Brocken then return.
Late departure on foot to railway station, missing the bike race. Firefighters closing roads in preparation. Steam train left 10.25 for journey up to top of Brocken. The highest narrow gauge railway in world. It was cold at top, -1 degrees Celsius, beanie and glove weather, snowed on way up. Didn’t take return train, walked down to Shirke and got bus back to town instead. About 7km walk. It snowed on way down, then sun to dry off. Nice photos of trees at top and start of way down. Crossed rail line but we heard sound of whistle and waited on it coming passed and took close up photos, I hope. Bus back was very pleasant journey. Back to hotel about 3.45pm.
Monday 25th April
Travel by rail to Assmannshausen on the Rhine.
Day of coach and rail travel that lasted most of the day. Surprised at number of allotments at Frankfurt and Weisenbach alongside the rail lines, the “huts” were very grand. Some substantial buildings of bricks. Turns out some people stay in them overnight, have parties, some have a pub, electricity and satellite tv. Some, of course, not well looked after.
Tuesday 26th April
Boat trip on Rhine to St Goar with some free time before return trip.
Change to itinerary, boat trip was further downriver to Boppard. Nice enough place but not much to see, mainly constrained by main road, railway and hills. That appeared to be the same for both sides of the Rhine. The east side was mainly freight on the rail with a few passenger trains. The west was more passenger with fewer freight. It was cold on way downriver. Sun came out back upriver, which takes longer of course, going against the current. I stayed up top for the afternoon return trip. Lots of “castles”, some converted to hotels. Lots of photos, not sure I can work out which ones. The Lorelei is a rock formation. Not much to look at!
Wednesday 27th April
Free to explore the local area further.
Rail then bus to Kloster Eberbach monastery which was used in filming The Name of The Rose. Has it’s own vine yard. Very interesting tour round. Then bus and train back to Rudesheim where took cable car up near top of hill and had a very pleasant walk back to Assmannshausen. This walk included stretch of herb walk.
Thursday 28th April
Excursion to Heidelburg by coach. Two hour coach journey this morning but extra half hour back due to traffic build-up and congestion of evening rush through the road works. Brief tour of Heidelburg on the coach initially then on foot. Rest of afternoon to walk round or do things. Just walked around, bit time over river and a sit down with some snack food I managed to purchase.
Friday 29th April
Return journey home if timetable works.
Left at 9 am for Koln by coach, stopped at German service station which was quite nice. From Koln, onto Thaylis service to Brussels with lunch served. At Brussels luggage taken by porter service and returned on platform for Eurostar service, they put it through customs and security. We went through customs and security with hand luggage. Aboard the Eurostar another meal was served which I didn’t take, too quick after the other. Arrived in St Pancras on time. Caught the train from Kings Cross at 6 pm then local service home. Through the door just before midnight.