Black Forest railway, Bollenhutte, Brussels, Caffee und Kuchen, cake shops, Cologne, cuckoo-clock shops, Deutsche Bahn, Ebbsfleet, Eurostar, holiday, ICE trains, Liege-Guillemins station, luggage, Luggagemule, Offenburg, packing, Parkhotel Wehrle, River Gutach, trains, travelling, Triberg
We recently had an eight-day holiday in the Black Forest in Germany. Richard organised the whole trip on his own, booking the hotel independently and then contacting Deutsche Bahn who recommended a route for us to take. We enjoy travelling by train! On previous trips we have used couchettes or sleeping cars but Elinor said that she’d rather we didn’t do that again so we managed to get the whole journey done in one day, setting off from home at 4.30 am and getting to the hotel just before 9.00 pm (8.00 pm British time) the same day.
We drove to Ebbsfleet in Kent where we left the car and went through passport control and customs before boarding the Eurostar.
Modern high-speed trains are usually very pleasant to travel on. The seats are comfortable, there is no jolting or bumping and there is hardly any engine noise. We seem to slide through the countryside at 140 mph almost as though we are hovering above the ground rather than fixed on tracks. The only downside is travelling through tunnels which make my ears pop and not being able to see the scenery at times because of sound barriers built next to the line near towns and villages. The tunnel under the English Channel only takes 20 minutes to go through and the train is travelling at a mere 80 mph. This rate of travel is still very surprising to me; I have always journeyed by train and my first train trip to the Continent when I was 14 years old began at Victoria Station in London. That first leg from London to Dover took about an hour and 40 minutes. We went through customs and then boarded a ferry to Ostend in Belgium. The sea journey took three or four hours and we then caught a large train to Paris. It was very exciting! Everything looked and smelt so different. I remember setting off from London about midday and eventually getting to Paris that evening where we ran from one station to another dodging the crazy traffic and quickly finding something to eat before we boarded the sleeper to Munich.
But back to our recent journey – the Eurostar took just over two hours to get to Brussels where we had a couple of hours wait for our next connection to Cologne.
It was so pleasant to be out in the sunshine and the lunch was exceedingly good. What I found sad was the sight of armoured cars and armed soldiers and police everywhere. With all the terrible attacks all over Europe it is not to be wondered at but I find it very upsetting all the same.
Our next train arrived on time and we were soon on our way to Cologne.
The last time we passed through Liege, work had begun recently to up-grade the tracks for high-speed trains. I don’t remember seeing this station then. Catalan architect Santiago Calatrava designed the building and it really is superb.
We had a 40 minute stop in Cologne where we dashed about looking for food as we would be arriving too late at our hotel for a meal. Our next high-speed train took us to the small town of Offenburg where we needed to buy more water as we had forgotten this in Cologne. Luckily, there was a drinks dispenser on the platform and we bought two bottles of ice-cold mineral water. By this time the fine weather had disappeared and it was raining hard and quite chilly.
Our last train was a double-decker local train to Triberg which travelled through very scenic countryside, though by this time it was very gloomy and wet and after 8.00 in the evening. We had arranged with the hotel for a taxi to pick us up at the station and as soon as we got off the train we were halloo-ed by the driver who was over on the opposite platform.
He drove us quickly to our hotel where we booked in and found that our other suitcases had already arrived and were waiting in our rooms. We had decided to use a company called ‘Luggage Mule’ to help get all our belongings on holiday. Lugging heavy suitcases on and off trains is a back-breaking business and as we usually need a large case for our medication alone we thought having someone else do the lifting was a good idea. The cases were collected six days before our holiday started and I found packing this far in advance quite tricky. Inevitably, there were things I wished I’d included and hadn’t and things I wished I hadn’t included but had! We were amused by the list of things that we were forbidden to pack. As you will see from the list, we had to leave our sink behind! We still managed to find more things we couldn’t do without for eight days to fill two smaller suitcases that we carried with us on the journey (see the second photo above)! Three washbags, cosmetics, medication for three people with chronic illnesses, Elinor’s books and drawing materials, her laptop and my notebook PC, shoes we had forgotten to pack earlier, coats etc made us look like a normal family going away for a week.
Our rooms in the hotel were comfortable and spacious and we slept well after our long day. The following morning we enjoyed a delicious buffet breakfast and then had a short wander round Triberg, the town where we were staying.
It wasn’t a warm day and there was a mixture of sunshine and showers but we saw that it was a pretty place though very busy with tourists like us.
As you see from the picture we had arrived in the land of large teddy bears. Two worked unceasingly at their clock-making and another abseiled up and down the outside of the shop all day.
I believe these statues represent Triberger women in their distinctive national costume and their Bollenhutte (hats with pompoms).
After our walk about the town we returned to the hotel for a few hours to rest and then at about 4 o’clock we went out for ‘Kaffee und Kuchen’ (coffee and cakes) Our breakfast had been so satisfying that we hadn’t needed lunch but by mid-afternoon we were in need of a little something to eat. The cake shop opposite the hotel served the most delicious cakes!
In the evening we went out for a meal at a restaurant close to the hotel. For the time we were in Germany we tried to eat local Black Forest food for every meal. It was all very good indeed though I found there weren’t as many vegetables as I am used to in these dishes which were mainly meat with potatoes or arborio rice or noodles.
In the next post I will describe what we did while in Germany.
Thanks for visiting!