The Slow Train

Trip Start Oct 18, 2012
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Flag of Germany  , North Rhine-Westphalia,
Thursday, August 15, 2013

Howdy Folks,

Well after being fired from my Job on Saturday, I had quite a bit of free time this week to help around the house and to do some travelling. I contacted a few of my distant relatives in Duisburg, which is on the Rhine River around 320kms north of Heidelberg and they said they would love to see me. I decided to take advantage of the Deutsche Bahn's 44 Euro Quer-Durchs-Land-Ticket which was much cheaper than the other tickets, but meant having a longer journey with more connections. I had the time so I thought why not!

I decided to leave on Thursday and in total I switched trains 4 times. At 8:30am, I started out in Edingen where I caught the tram to Mannheim. Because each of the trains that I took from Mannheim were each quite long, I decided to write a short paragraph on each.

9:44am Mannheim - Caught the Regional Bahn to Mainz which is on the Rhein River near Frankfurt. The 80km journey took 1hr 23m which was very slow and I only saw farmland. The train was a normal single level which was quite empty. I got to have a 25 Minute stopover which was enough time to Stretch my legs and pay 1€ to use the toilets! They were very clean though.

11:32am Mainz - Caught the Mittelrheinbahn to Koblenz which is also on the Rhein River en route to Bonn. This was a quite interesting journey which took 1hr 36m to travel 100km, but through some very pretty landscapes. We journeyed through the Rhine Valley between these rocky slopes and I got a bit snap happy. There were plenty of people about cycling and caravaning. The train was quite modern with high back seats and no conductor. I only got a 8 Minute stopover though so it was quite quick.

1:16pm Koblenz - Caught the Regional Express to Düsseldorf though Bonn and Köln. It took 1hr 45m to travel 150kms, but I got to see the Kölner Dom again. The train was a double decker which meant that I got to sit up on the upper deck which gave us better views over the river. Because we travelled through a few cities there were quite a few people getting on and off and being an express train it was a little quicker. All in all it took 5.5 hours to travel around 300kms - definitely the scenic route! That is quite slow for Germany, but then again I normally don't have to travel long distances.

3:01pm With 5 hours to spare I put my bag into the lockers at the train station and I didn't have much change so I just put in 3€ for 3 hours. With no time to lose, I started walking down the Graf-Adolf-Straße towards the Rhein River. On the way I passed a few nice city lakes and the end of the Königsallee, but more on that later. Crossing under the Rheinkniebrücke (literally Rhine Knee Bridge) which crosses at a river bend, I came across the Rheinturm which is a sightseeing tower with a premium location. Luckily the 4 Euros I paid to go up wasn't a premium price and there were only a few people in the queue. 

The views from the top were pretty good even though the weather wasn't. The observation deck actually hangs out over the base so you could easily get a bit of vertigo! Below was the city centre and the state parliament on one side and the Medienhafen (Media Harbour) on the other. Having got the lay of the land and a hundred photos, I headed back down to check it out the city which has almost 600,000 residents.

Being a big business centre like Frankfurt, Düsseldorf has reinvented itself from being a trade and industrial city and the Medienhafen is a good example. This city harbour has been revitalised with three pretty cool looking Frank Gehry buildings which are definitely well photographed. I've seen a few Gehry buildings now like the EMP in Seattle, the Walt Disney Concert Hall in LA and the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Chicago and they definitely stand out from the other buildings.

There were plenty of other semi-professional photographers taking photos around the Medienhafen complete with models so it is a popular area. After walking across the pedestrian bridges and around to the Hyatt Regency hotel it was time to head back. I continued north along the Rhine until I got the city centre and there was a bit going on with a few river market stalls and an endless parade of river barges cruising up and down the Rhine. You definitely get a sense of how important rivers are in Germany for trade and transport.

The Altstadt is pretty small in Düsseldorf presumably because the city was bombed during World War 2. The city was easily captured in the last days of the war, so there aren't many signs now of its turbulent past. There were plenty of people out enjoying the warm temperatures and having a bite to eat. I took a quick look inside the Andreaskirche which was really beautiful inside, but quite plain from the outside. After that it was time to head back to the train station.

Walking back I once again crossed over the Königsallee which is a famous shopping street. There were plenty of high end brands showcased along a very pretty avenue of tree lined streets with a lake in the middle. Unfortunately the roadworks weren't doing the place any justice. Back at the railway staton I had plenty of time to grab a Döner kebap and check out a few shops in the station. Just after 8pm, I jumped on the train to travel the last 15 minutes to Duisburg and I was greeted by Denise Pinno and her parents Willi and Marita. Willi is my father Rainer's cousin so you can work out the connection!

We drove back to their house where we got to know each other and shared travel stories from America and Canada. They have also done quite a bit of travelling and even had a few Canadian number plates stuck on the bedroom wall! It's a small world after all!
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