Category: Travels in Germany
The 1st of May did bring us the chance to take some long vacations. Indeed, with a Friday off, taking an additional day would make it four days of a long weekend. Using that rare opportunity in May, our blog editor, Arthur, decided to visit several cities in Western Germany. And he is willing to share that experience with you. Our team will still write separately about each particular city, but for you to get a general impression, we shall post more about the trip in general.
I took a night bus from Berlin to Dusseldorf on the Thursday night. It was on 30th of April; I was at work, packed my 70-litres backpack and went to Central Bus Station. Unfortunately the bus arrived late, almost 2,5 hours late. I was travelling with Onebus, and as you might imagine was really pissed off, but later I found they sent me a coupon for 10 EUR, excusing for my inconvenience. Still, it turned out well, because I did not arrived 6 in the morning, so had less time to wait for my friend in the city.
What can you do in Dusseldorf?
Reaching the Altstadt, I decided to take a ferry ride down the Rhine. The first voyage starts at 10.30, the price is about 10 EUR, as for the company I chose Köln-Düsseldorfer Deutsche Rheinschiffahrt AG, or simply K-D. Don’t expect something spectacular from the sailing, but you will see the city from the different perspective, that you would not see normally. The ferry takes you to Media Haven and forth, up the river in the direction of the Messe Dusseldorf. Good start for a day!
After that you can walk down the city centre, visit Kaiserpfalz Kaiserswerth ruins, go on top of Rheinturm – the viewing platform and get a stunning view of the city. Don’t forget to fetch the free map at the Tourist Centre office on Altstadt. The staff will gladly point out the most interesting sites to visit. If you feel more like strolling in a park, you can visit Volksgarten with a plenty of fauna there. Calm and serene place to spent a couple of hours in. After doing a lot of activities, and even more, next day was set up for Cologne, or speaking in German, Köln.
Read more about Dusseldorf in our upcoming special post!
A stop in Köln
After visiting Dusseldorf and meeting my friends there, I headed to Köln. Unfortunately it was only a few hours stop, so I could not contemplate the beauty of the city for that long. The main landmark is definitely the Kölner Dom. This enormous edifice could not just fit in the camera lens. Great architecture, street full of tourists, discovering the beauty of the city while wandering around.
Note if you travel from Dusseldorf you should get out at Hauptbanhof, otherwise you will need to walk pretty much to the centre. Another important information is if you are taking Flixbus/Meinfernbus, the onward station might be at Messe Köln. Which is really unconvinient, as there is only a road sigh with a stop denoting for this specific bus service and nowhere to put your bag. As for me, I did discover where the stop is and then needed to come back and leave my enormous backpack in the locker at Banhof.
The city stroke me with its vividness, and a river is definitely always granting some extra points to the general impression of the city. A good reason to come back one day and discover it fully from a different perspective.
After sending a postcard to my brother, making a few shots from the bridge, I headed to the bus stop when waited for my bus towards Mainz.
Arriving somewhat at 6 p.m. it took about 1,5 hours from Köln to Mainz. A lot of great things can be told about Mainz, but we will save those specials for a separate article. The city is not big, but cozy, with a compact city centre and a river. After meeting my splendid friends we headed for the wine stands near the river, where one can take a glass of a great German white or red wine.
Mainz is also a hometown for a prominent German poet, Friedrich Schiller. The square named in his honor is gorgeous.
After briefly discovering the city centre I had some obstructions on my way.
In Mainz my intended plan went wrong: I missed my bus to Heidelberg. Note that buses stop at Hauptbanhof but a bit down the street. Having trusted some Spanish tourists who were waiting for a bus to airport I did not check that mine was down the road. The train tickets were expensive and the other option would be to take bla-bla car at 5 p.m. only. So having drawn a sign “Heidel” with a help of my dearest friend, who was quite surprised to see me again at her house and checked the best point for hitchhiking I took my rucksack and went outside the city. Luckily after 15 min a guy was driving towards Heidelberg and he picked me up. As he did not speak English, I was very proud of myself, being able to communicate with him in my basic German. That was a great experience, and as I say – if it’s a backpack trip, everything must be in it, even stopping a car at the road.
The city that is lying amidst green hills, greeted my covered by fog brought by afternoon rain. While I approached the longest street of the city, I could more clearly see the ruins of medieval castle of Heidelberg atop the hill. After intense and hectic streets of big cities, Heidelberg seems very serene, even despite the crowds of tourists and students. The city has probably the oldest university in Germany, which was founded somewhat in 1386. Small streets, vividness at every corner of the small city centre and history that can be felt in the atmosphere – that is what making Heidelberg a great city for visiting over a weekend. There are also a couple of hills, which can be hiked and the highest point one can ascend – Königstuhl, from which the beautiful panorama can be seen.
I planned to leave Heidelberg at 8 p.m. and head to Frankfurt, but decided that I probably had seen everything so took a bus to Frankfurt at 15/30. As on the first day it was raining and I did not make it to castle, I left this for the programme of the second day. I dropped my backback in the locker of university’s library (only a deposit for 2 EUR coin for a locker – that’s what you’d need) and took camera and tripod to make some pictures of the city from the castle. After that, a hike to Königstuhl followed, opening far better view over the city. I did only halfway on foot, as getting on top from the foothill would take considerable amount of hours. One can take a funicular at the in the city or at the intermediate station close to the castle. More about that in a following special post about Heidelberg.
After wandering the city I took off for railway station where I took my bus to Frankfurt
Frankfurt am Main
We have a broad article on Frankfurt in our previous post, so more information can be fetched there. Unluckily camera’s battery died, but after a short charge in a donner place I was able to take that picture of the city, Romer square and bridge with a tripod.
I was very lucky to meet my friend there and he showed me around some places I haven’t seen during my last visit.
A great finale
I travelled to Berlin with a night bus and went to work shortly after arrival. This experience was great – the process of planning, failed expectations and lessons learned that sometimes not everything corresponds to the plan. Intense backpacking trip was finished and I hope I will be able to do it again. The freedom of travelling alone is inexpressible. Travel more, discover and share your impressions!