20 September 2009

Our First Weekend Trip: Mainz, the Rhein, & Koblenz ~ September 4th

Basically, we are two insane travellers, to be getting up at 4 am for a 5 am train.....But it was all worth it. We arrived in Mainz around 7 am, just in time for their famously huge farmer's market to be opening up. The air was cool and you could feel the moistness that told you rain was on the way....we wandered through the streets as laughing schoolchildren rushed past with their backpacks, satchels, or shoulderbags and lunch boxes. The market was larger than the one in Reutlingen, but so much was the same. If I closed my eyes too, I could imagine myself back home, on a Saturday morning, downtown at the farmer's market in West Lafayette with Mom and Dad, and it made me homesick a bit to see the familar sight of fruit and cheese and vegetables......only to be brought back to reality when I heard the babble of German coming from the old woman with the crowded rows of flower bouquets, as she laughed with the farmer in the stall across the way. Then the brief moment of homesickness passed, after we bought our food and arrived at the ferry dock. With the beautiful Rhein stretching out in front of us, I got excited for all sights we were going to see on the cruise we were waiting in line for. All the castles!!! One after another!!! You could imagine looking out window of one and being able to catch a glimpse of the next one with hardly a strain upon the eyes. Amazing. They were all in different styles, reflective of the era in which they were built or rennovated. We also passed the infamous Lorelei - a cliff rising 120 meters above the narrowest part of the Rhein and named for one of the beautiful Rhein Maidens, who supposedly lurred sailors to their deaths with their hypnotic song. While on the boat, it finally started raining and we were very thankful we had brought long sleeves and jackets. We ended up wearing almost every shirt we had packed, so as to stay warm, and the whole wetness and cold put a damper on our enthusiasm for sightseeing when we got off the boat at Koblenz. We quickly found a museum to stop into and spent the afternoon there, away from the stormy weather, and then caught the train to Köln earlier than originally planned. This time checking into our hostel, we cared less about our feet and backs and more about getting a hot shower and dry clothes.

The Hostel Experience: such a variety. Where Stuttgart's Alex 30 was clean, quiet, and well -kept, the Köln Station Hostel for Backpackers was crowded, a bit load, and hectic in the morning. The sheets were so highly starched that we wondered if the starch was an attempt to mask poor quality or something else we didn't want to know about and we really weren't sure how the shower lights were supposed to work and where the heck the other three sleepers in the room were....It ended up being three guys: one of which was randomly from Atlanta Georga; the random guy who arrived at 3 in the morning and tried to make the first one wake up and stop snoring; and finally, the third one, who was gone all night but showed up in the morning, tried to flirt with me or Hilary when the other was in the bathroom, asked if we wanted to go to the pub with him the next night, and was amazed we weren't Swiss, since, of course, we had to be, because I had a Swiss Army backpack.....yeeeeeah. We decided we were very glad the hostel was full for the next night and we had had to find a hotel instead. Yup. Next time we're going to pay the 3 Euros extra per person for a private room with two beds. It's totally worth it.


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