Northbound along the Rhine

Trip Start Aug 26, 2009
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Trip End Nov 24, 2009


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Flag of Germany  , North Rhine-Westphalia,
Monday, October 19, 2009

(Whitney)
 
We had a long trip from Naples all the way up to the Black Forest in Germany so we split it up with a stop overnight in Florence. We love Florence so we were excited to go back again. We arrived in the afternoon so we did some quick shopping and bought a leather jacket each. We also went and had a look in the Duomo as we never got a chance to actually go in when we were there last time. We had dinner at the hostel with two Aussies from our room and then went out with them afterwards for some gelato. I was leading them to the place that I heard was the best gelato in the city when we crossed the street and were looking up at the Duomo. They were shocked and thought it was so amazing and I realized that they had not seen it during their only day of sight-seeing in Florence! They had gone the wrong way out of the hostel and had seen nothing all day and thought that Florence sucked! I couldn't let them think this about one of my favourite cities so we continued to show them around the city and told them all of the interesting facts we could remember from our walking tour.

The next day we travelled to Milan, then to Briggs, then Basel, then up to Freiburg, Germany. We got lost trying to find the hostel in the dark so it took us about an hour of walking to find it. It was a cool hostel though- huge common area and nice kitchen and beds that were not bunkbeds! Yay! We went to see Titisee the following day which was about 30 minutes away by train. The ride there was really nice- we got to see the dense forest and rolling hills. It is now really cold. The girl in our hostel kept asking us why we would come to Germany in the winter. We had planned to do a big walk but started out on one and then decided that we had walked far enough and headed back to Freiburg. It is a nice town with a canal and a university. We had a look around then went back to the hostel and read and made some dinner. We planned to do a nice walk into the forest from Freiburg the following morning but it was pouring rain so we packed it in and headed to Cologne.

We were thinking of doing a day trip from Cologne to take a boat ride down the Rhine. However, when we set out on the train from Freiburg to Cologne we found that the trainline runs right along the Rhine on the most interesting section according to our guidebook. We passed heaps of tiny little German towns with houses that have black roofs and old crumbling castles up on the hillside. The ride was so nice that we figured we didn't need to take a boat ride as we had already seen it. We got a bit lost again on the way to the hostel (these German towns don't have visible street names!) but found it eventually. We had pasta and sauce with tomoatoes for dinner and I (gasp!) finished my plate before Stephen and went back for more! Don't know why I was so hungry but it was crazy! He didn't even see me eat the food on my plate! We wandered around the city into Neumarkt square and the next day we saw the big two-towered cathedral. The old town has tiny streets that lead down to the Rhine. We enjoyed the city- it has a cool atmosphere and is very pretty.

(Steve)

After Naples it was time to head north and say goodbye to sunny Italy. We stopped over in Florence and continued on after doing a bit of shopping to Freiburg. As the gateway to the black forest, we caught a train through to a town called Titisee and did a quick hike in the nearby hills. The black forest turns out to be quite large and we didn't have much time so after our day trip we had to keep going, leaving most of the hikes and black forest towns behind us. We caught a train that followed the Rhine up to Cologne, a lively town that was mostly destroyed in the war except for the massive gothic Cathedral that was used for navigation by Allied pilots. It was quite cold but an enjoyable stopover. On our way to the hostel, we saw a few drinking carts powered by pedalling drinkers and steered down the road by the bartender (sober I hope). Our hostel was fine but far from the best we have stayed at. We walked around Cologne the following day and it felt different to be out of the tourist crowds and actually in a livable, practical city. 
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