“Berlin is one of the best massive metropolis in Europe”, mentioned nearly all my buddies who’d been. It’s town of the second, they mentioned, thanks, primarily, to the events, the espresso and the creatives. The associated fee-effectiveness doesn’t damage both. And so, even earlier than I’d finalized plans for my first massive European rail journey, I knew one factor — that a good portion of it might contain Germany and its capital.
What I didn’t notice, although, was simply how a lot else there’s to see throughout the size and breadth of the nation. And the way stunning a number of the prepare rides actually are. Over the course of two weeks I ventured from Bavaria within the south to the capital within the north east. These have been a number of the many highlights.
By means of the Alps to Munich
After just a few days in a small log cabin excessive above the idyllic Austrian village of Zillertal I noticed it was time to maintain shifting. Fellow friends additionally staying within the lodging have been driving to Munich on the identical day, however I declined their supply.
As a substitute, I boarded a tiny prepare that resembled one thing you’re extra more likely to discover transporting you round a theme park. It linked me to the larger EuroCity community. A slick categorical prepare transported me by means of the jap reaches of the Alps all the way in which from to Munich in slightly below two hours.
Poorly Poured Pints in Munich
Early June Munich was heat. So heat that the comically big slab of Milka chocolate that I purchased melted in my bag. Regardless of the warmth, I joined a mid-morning strolling tour by means of the fairytale outdated city. The information labored beer into her tales at each alternative with far-reaching “legend has it” tales. Akin to this gem: “Legend has it that this constructing as soon as caught fireplace. With no water they determined to make use of beer, however ended up ingesting it as a substitute.” She did share one truth throughout the tour, nevertheless — that a lot of the city had been swiftly reconstructed in anticipation of the 1972 Olympic Video games. Ultimately I received bored of my very own eye-rolling and peeled off the again to discover town by myself.
Later that night I ventured into the well-known Augustiner-Keller, a straightforward stumble from the each the prepare station and my hostel. I braced myself for a vacationer entice, which to my information it could properly have been. However the face-sized pretzels and crispy pork knuckle and gigantic tankards of beer served by waitresses in all the normal garb felt surprisingly genuine.
Even exterior of Oktoberfest, beer is the main target of Munich. You’ll discover beer gardens and beer halls in probably the most sudden locations. Although pints of German brew are removed from low cost within the metropolis, the meals normally is, and there’s one thing to be mentioned about ingesting a liter of beer beneath massive inexperienced bushes rustling within the wind.
Town that’s made its trendy vacationer identify because of the annual Oktoberfest nonetheless has lots to supply at different occasions of the 12 months. Maybe extra, for those who think about simply how chaotic it will get there over the debauchery of the competition. As a substitute, in June, I spent my days biking by means of the plush Englischer Garten, on the lookout for the surfers on the nonetheless wave within the Isar, wandering the quiet grounds of the outdated Olympic village, and marveling at motorcyclists using down the steps of the BMW showroom.
Swans and Castles in Heidelberg
When it got here time to maneuver on I seen a small city on the map known as Heidelberg. It was between Munich and Mainz — the place I deliberate to fulfill some buddies. So by advantage of getting a Eurail Go and a versatile schedule, I finished over within the quaint city.
There I spent two days strolling the bustling pedestrianized centre and basic bridges, exploring a charming fortress on the hill, and getting acquainted with some swans on the Neckar River, round which town is targeted.
Meandering round Mainz
The Rhine Valley Line Scenic Prepare is probably probably the most revered of Germany scenic rail routes. It runs between the charming cities of Mainz and Koblenz, and could be worthy of a journey to the area alone. However Mainz is a outstanding little vacation spot that many vacationers overlook for larger cities within the space to their very own detriment.
Set on the banks of the Rhine, Mainz is a thriving little scholar city. It comes full with attention-grabbing breweries, varied scenic walks alongside the river, and a palpable sense of historical past. So charming is the little metropolis that I prolonged my keep there by just a few days.
Sundown over the Rhine was notably memorable, and on one night we stumbled throughout a crew of avenue artists portray the aspect of the bridge to chilled music and an inexpensive knock-up bar. Pedestrians and bicycles rule the streets in these elements, and it’s straightforward to cycle to neighboring suburbs for a change of surroundings.
Driving the Rhine Valley Scenic Line
Ultimately the decision of river — and the capital — proved too sturdy. Early one morning I boarded the long-lasting prepare that runs up the valley alongside the Rhine River.
The laid-back journey on the Rhine Valley Line was transient, however laden with fairytale surroundings. Castles sit on unattainable hilltops and cliff sides, pristine vineyards float by the home windows, and the gurgling waters of the river appear to problem the spotless prepare to a race up the valley.
The surreal expertise was over nearly earlier than it started, and I felt the urge to move again and do all of it once more. Many vacationers do. As a substitute, I allowed myself an hour within the well-known metropolis of Cologne, primarily simply to catch a glimpse of the famed cathedral, earlier than pushing on to Hamburg.
A style of the dock life in Hamburg
Simply 5 and a half hours after leaving the quaint city of Mainz I discovered myself within the buzzing Hamburg Hauptbahnhof.
Town has a right away pull to it, because of its quirky bars and eating places, vibrant nightlife (the Beatles did, in spite of everything, lower their tooth right here) and its peculiar nautical environment — despite it being some 55 miles from the ocean.
The massive Elbe River has made this an inland port city of notice. Large container ships sail down the waterways with ease dwarfing close by buildings and locals sunbathing on the banks. A stroll by means of the quiet harbor on a weekend morning is one other surreal expertise.
There’s a surprisingly laid again allure to this relatively massive and vital metropolis. In some ways it turned out to be a extra manageable and interesting model of its in style neighbor, Berlin.
Tackling the capital
Ultimately I made it to the German capital, and my preliminary European goal. After two weeks of sluggish rail journey by means of Germany the nation had captured my coronary heart. Maybe due to this, my preliminary feeling about Berlin was that it was massive and unwieldy. On first appearances it lacked the magnetism of the cities that got here earlier than it. With out a manageable vacationer centre to concentrate on, it was troublesome to know how one can construction a go to. On a number of events I discovered myself wandering unusual backroads on the lookout for one thing to do.
However then I noticed that this was exactly why it’s so distinctive. Ultimately I got here to grips with town by narrowing my focus to particular neighborhoods. Fascinating strolling excursions uncovered a number of the metropolis’s hidden secrets and techniques, the intriguing historical past slowly got here to life, a number of museums added context to my environment, slick eateries, fast avenue meals and pretentious espresso retailers supplied the proper locations at which to refuel, and a handful of sometimes Berlin events had me promising to return.
After some 750 miles by prepare by means of Germany I left the capital with a heavy coronary heart. My two weeks in Germany had been a lot greater than I’d imagined, and the benefit and suppleness afforded to me by my Eurail Pass had me fantasizing a few return journey earlier than my prepare had even left the outer reaches of sprawling Berlin.