The final part of my Euro trip began on the Eurostar train from Paris to London. After racing through the French countryside we went though the Channel Tunnel and finally emerged in London.
Once I had checked into my hotel for the weekend, I caught up with a former flatmate for the evening. By convenient coincidence there was a Science Uncovered late night at the Natural History Museum which we explored before making a late night cafe visit in Kensington.
After two fantastic weeks in Germany, it was time for the next part of the Europe adventure.
After staying the night in Frankfurt, I caught a train to Paris. Having been all over Germany on IC, EC, and DB Regio trains – all of which leave NZ/AU trains looking very old and slow – the ICE train was another level of speed (and comfort). The trip from Frankfurt to the French border went through small town after small town, in very thick heavy fog. We then went into a deep valley between mountains and came out in France. Once into the French countryside we blasted along the tracks at 300kmh+.
The final portion of my travels in Germany was visiting friends in Munich.
By pure coincidence I arrived in Munich for the start of Oktoberfest. The biggest fair in the world begins with a massive street parade where each brewery brings its beer into the city. This was a rather interesting parade to watch, where marching bands that I would normally expect to see at a Santa Parade played between each brewery’s float.
After a great weekend in Heidelberg, I caught the train to Koblenz. The first part of the journey involved in a “simple” trip from Heidelberg to Mannheim on the S-Bahn where I would have ten minutes to wait for the connecting EC train to Koblenz. However, despite the S-Bahn train arriving in Heidelberg on time, it then sat on the platform for 8 minutes waiting for another train to pass. Once we finally got moving, it was obvious the train running on a parallel track to us was my connecting train! After arriving on the wrong platform in Mannheim, I had to do a mad dash to get across to the connecting train with only seconds to spare.
Once I arrived into Koblenz, I checked into my hotel and then went for a walk around the city. This city was very different to the cities I had been in over the past few days and felt like what my poor knowledge of European history would have suggested that Eastern Germany/Europe would have looked like – lots of bland concrete buildings. After having a sausage from a market stall, I found a street concert, and finished the day off by watching the America’s Cup on an Austrian TV channel.
I spent my first weekend in Germany in the area around Heidelberg and Mannheim.
After spending the day walking around Frankfurt with random friends, I caught the train from Frankfurt to Heidelberg. After checking into my hotel, I went for a walk around the city while waiting for my friends to arrive from Munich.
The town of Heidelberg is incredibly pedestrian friendly. The core area is one long narrow street that runs from the centre of town through to the base of the ruins of the Heidelberg Castle. Once my friends arrived, we had dinner at a local pub.
In September I went to Europe primarily to present some of my doctoral research at a conference in Germany. The next few blog posts are compiled from notes I wrote while away and will feature highlights of the trip.