Last year in spring, when I was not so convinced by the idea of the merit of staying overnight in a place with other people, we had a weekend hiking trip to Blankenheim. This one was a great success, partly because of the youth hostel. So this year, I decided to go back to that youth hostel, quite convinced of a huge success with the same or maybe different people.
Since this summer was announced to be another record heat summer, it was initially meant to be a cycling trip, but then we saw a rather moderate summer at the turn of the month, so that I turned it into a hiking trip at short notice, which obviously was not clear to many people. Besides, I did not start creating a participants list until the last minute. So I somewhat missed the right moment to gather enough people to make a great trip. In addition, this trip was the first weekend of August, when quite a number of the people have either left Düsseldorf, not arrived here yet or are simply on vacation. It was, therefore, not quite surprising that we were only 12 people in the end.
In view of having a rather small group, I was actually looking forward to a convivial weekend, which would allow me to talk with everyone without having to go from one topic to another in a hurry, which is often the case when 40 or 50 people are hiking with us.
So in this sense, it was not a “problem” for me not to have many people, until I contacted the youth hostel to cancel the remaining beds – they demanded cancellation fee for those beds.
So far my assumption had been they don’t really care how many people actually sleep. We’ve always paid just as much as the number of beds we used. But it’s true that we’re probably in a middle of a high season and if we hadn’t occupied our beds, there could have been people who could have possibly stayed there. For this reason, it is reasonable to accept this fee. At the same time, I was painfully aware that I organised it horribly wrong this time, so I decided to carry the responsibility. Well, this was anyway an amount of money that was within a manageable range, while I guess what I lose could possibly more than what I could imagine if I charge other people.
A few days ahead of the event, I tried to find more people, rather in vain, and in the end we were still 12 people. Well, anyway the bright side of the story is that we could experience a rather small group this time, which was something new for me.
The trail we took from Urft was something called “Eifelweg” (or something similar), which is not to be mixed with Eifelsteig, which I guess is way more known than what we took. Since the main purpose for me of going to Blankenheim was Blankenheim itself and not quite the hiking trail, I wasn’t really sure if it’d be a good one. As it turned out, this one was a typical trail in the Eifel, so something that you cannot find in Düsseldorf (even though on the photos the difference might not be as visible).
Quite famously, there aren’t many cities in this area in contrast to the Ruhr region (although the rest of Germany is usually even less populated). We had a break in this small village called Marmagen (which sounds funny in German), which luckily had a small café. And fortunately we were only 12 people, as otherwise with double the number of participants they would have been probably overwhelmed.
Today’s weather was like they made it exactly right for our hiking trip. With around 24 degrees with a bit of clouds, it reminded us how nice the traditional German summer used to be. It’s not like it’s entirely over, but with extreme weather arriving so often, it makes us think it’s something which belongs to the past.
We arrived in Blankenheim around 7pm, slightly later than I had planned, but still in the right moment. We had dinner exactly at the same restaurant in the city center, which was a pizzeria with kebab, pasta, pizza, curry (?), German traditional food, ice cream and much more. In short, you’ll get what you want, whether it’s authentic or not. And this time, we didn’t have to wait for 40 min for the food to arrive.
And just like last year, we gathered in the cellar of the castle. Just as last time, there was no one else except for us, even though there weren’t only young families and children at the youth hostel this time. Maybe they didn’t inform other guests well of that place, since I also had to ask about it when we arrived there. I went to bed around midnight. I don’t know how long others stayed there.
And in the night, I had to get up several times: Apparently I had food poisoning. I could hardly sleep there.
So it didn’t come as a surprise that I was completely groggy the next morning. Others obviously looked better, but I’m pretty sure that they were still tired from the drinking session in the cellar.
It took us quite some time to get ready to go. In the meantime, I went to the front desk to pay. There I bumped into the same guy as last year (it was a young trainee lady when we checked in). With the same frankness, he started chatting with me.
Reception: “So you hiked yesterday from Urft or something?” Sam: “(Not quite understanding why he knew it) Yes.” Reception: “I googled it yesterday and found your event. Who is paying the cancellation fee?” Sam: “Me” Reception: “It’s a private event, isn’t it?” Sam: “Yes” Reception: “Hm, ok I initially thought it was an organization. Since I find it great that you organise this kind of event, and it’d not be nice if the organiser had to pay all the cancellation fee, let’s scrap it.”
And so, in the end, the cancellation fee was cancelled. I was observing the scene somewhat incredulously, but so relieved firstly that it didn’t give me the first experience of being fined for this event, and also by the fact that I didn’t require anyone to pay. It only annulled a potential minus, but I was very happy that following my principle was positively rewarded.
We finally started hiking around 10:30. Initially we were planning to go to Schmidtheim, but I was simply totally done from the sleeplessness. I hardly got anything right on the way and don’t really remember what I talked about. My condition got better over time, but the trail was not particularly beautiful this time, often going through civilisation and right next to a high way. In the end we cut it short and took a train from Blankenheim Wald. Not quite surprisingly, I slept for 10 hours after I got back home. Home sweet home…