Hiking report

Weekend trip to Koblenz!

It has been a stormy year in many aspects, but regarding the weekend trips, that’s very much the case. We had big trips to the Black Forest and Belgium, which all got cancelled. Seeing all this happen, I thought we might not have any weekend trip anymore this year. But fortunately things started to get better, which made me make a cautious first step – weekend trip to Koblenz

We’ve been to Koblenz to last year. At that time we walked along the Rhine. But Koblenz is the confluence of Rhine and Moselle. And I remember from the trip to Traben-Trarbach (which was the very first one) and the one to Cochem, that it’s really an impressive area. Another important thing was that while we didn’t have much time last time, we could vividly remember what a wonderful place it was, especially the youth hostel. So for the first weekend trip of the year and the first one after the corona restrictions, this was the perfect place to go.

Right after the decision was taken that we could be a group of up to 10 people, I made a reservation for the hostel. It didn’t take even a week for all the spots to be taken, even though I never really announced it anywhere, except on my website, which most of the people don’t even really check. It was really impressive to see.

The hiking trail I took – the last part of the Moselsteig, was too short for a weekend trip, but then the two last sections would be something like 26 km. That sounded too much. But still I thought it would be easier to make a long one shorter than make a short one longer, so that I ended up deciding to take the 26 km trail. In order to make this possible, I introduced a new concept – a weekend trip of Friday to Sunday. This time in Koblenz is of course relatively easy, since it anyway doesn’t make much sense to go there with all the people on the same train. This was something I have always had in mind, but I never did it because I was never really sure how much time people usually have on Friday, since as a scientist I’m extremely flexible, which doesn’t allow me to know what the standard is like for the others.

As I found out, it was not quite a problem for people to leave Düsseldorf by 6 pm, which I thought would be too early. I went there around two hours earlier to check in at the hostel.

It’s been a few weeks that we have had really hot days, surpassing 30 degrees. Even though for me it was only about going from the train station to the hostel, I was thinking I’d die if I’d ever have to walk in this heat.

Checking in turned out to be fairly easy. I thought I’d have to put all names, their addresses and phone numbers in a piece of paper, but all this actually didn’t happen. Actually, usually we have to tell who slept in which room, most likely to make sure that in case of emergency we know whom to save where, but this time even this was not there. I don’t understand what in this crisis made them change this system. The only one thing was that instead of usual 2 hour breakfast, we got a slot of 7:30 to 8:30, essentially first hour of the breakfast. Since that perfectly corresponded to my usual breakfast schedule, I didn’t even ask if it’s possible to change it to the other slot.

When I reached the room, I could see the first drops outside. As everyone was arriving, I went back to the city without an umbrella (in that moment I thought I didn’t have one, although later I found out that it was in my bag). Light rain turned into a storm. It is true that I was wet like a mad man, but at the same time I was extremely happy to see the street emit all the heat that it accumulated over the last couple of weeks. I was forecast that it would rain over the entire weekend, but who cares. I still think that for any weather we can simply get right equipment, except for hot weather. When it’s hot, there’s really nothing we can do.

From what I know, tourists usually go to different restaurants in a new city. For some reason, the others wanted to go to the same Thai restaurant one more time, which I already didn’t particularly like last time. And we went there and we didn’t like it. What were we doing there. The very person pushing for this restaurant, Cláudia, was nearly killed with the spicy salad, too spicy for the German standard.

One of the reason that I chose Koblenz was this platform at the youth hostel, as I already indicated above. I was looking forward to drinking with other people here, but many of them decided to go to bed early. Well, this time we have two nights. Why not.

Download kml / gpx

Day 1 started – quite early in the morning. Just as I couldn’t sleep particularly well, everyone seemed to be waiting for the alarm in the morning. This is the destiny of staying elsewhere, and also one of the reasons I don’t like business trips. Fortunately though, I was quite fit, perfectly ready for the hike.

The fact that we had only 1 hour of breakfast instead of 2 could have potentially given us another hour before the start. I first thought we could use this time to walk around the fortress, part of which is the youth hostel. However, as it turned out we needed the full 2 hours, mainly because one bathroom for 4 people was not enough. It’s good that we had enough buffer time in the end and it’s something that I should keep in mind for the future sessions.

We took a slightly earlier bus to the train station and met some others at the central station, the ones who wanted to join only for the day. We got 5p train tickets for 24€ for the day. Then we went a few stops farther and started today’s hike.

Again, today we followed Moselsteig. First of all, we started off from a nice looking city. Then, it’s true that it does not have quite as many castles as Rheinsteig, but right at the beginning of the hike we bumped into some of them. I’m pretty sure that the ones who joined for the first time were quite impressed to see that. I was, at least.

It’s probably worth mentioning that there was a mind boggling slope (read: cliff) right after the beginning. It did not exactly follow the path I created, but it was part of Moselsteig.

And partially, it went beyond what we consider as hiking. Again, it was not mandatory but we still did it.

It was funny to see the whenever we reached a peak, we somehow thought it was the highest point, just to find out at the following peak that the peak before was not quite as high as we thought. At each stop, like this, we could take a photo of the previous stop. At the same time it was nice to see that we could get this feeling of making progress, higher and higher.

There was one point when we were in the forest that it slightly started raining, but the little amount didn’t really matter anyway. Also it lasted maybe half an hour.

It was impressive to see how quickly the sky started to clear up. I heard later that it was raining a lot in Düsseldorf in this moment, but we could see a clear blue sky. The great thing was of course, it was not nearly as hot as it was during the past week. It was exactly the perfect weather for a hike. Who’d have thought it could possibly be as perfect as this time?

I hoped we’d go down to the river for a break, but quite obviously people didn’t have much energy to get down. So we had a break at a nearby service area.

From this point on we had a lot of vineyards. Looking at the photos, I don’t really get the feeling that we were in Germany. I could have seen the same scenes in south of France just as well.

As the weather was getting better, the temperature rose also a lot, even though it was still significantly cooler than last week. As people were getting tired at different speeds, the group was stretched farther and farther apart. For some reason I was in the last group, in the easy-going one. I somehow felt bad that the others had to wait for us and therefore told them to keep going when we reached the river, where I could swim. Just as every year, I don’t announce this kind of stuff, mainly because we never know if it’s possible to swim or not in Germany (so I don’t want to disappoint other people) and I don’t think it looks so nice to see a group of people swimming illegally.

Actually I told them to keep going because I thought they wanted to go, but as it turned out later, they actually would have wanted to join. Well, at least some of the girls and I had a great time at the riverside.

When we crossed the river, we went to a nearby café and took a bus to go back to the city center. As I stated above, this was the very first hike where we travelled on Friday and had an entire day on Saturday. One thing I was afraid of was we’d have too much time at the end of the day so that we wouldn’t know what to do. When we were about to leave the café, it was 7pm. This was the perfect moment to go to the city center to do a little bit of sightseeing and have dinner.

There are essentially two sightseeing points in Koblenz. One is the fortress where we were staying, and the other is Deutsches Eck, which is the confluence of the Rhine and the Moselle. We could get a direct bus from the café (more or less). We were finally like normal tourists in this moment :).

Finding a place to have dinner turned out to be a difficult task. In order to make it slightly easier and avoid complications because of corona, we split up, but still we, in a group of 5, could not find anything decent. I’d have never thought that Koblenz could be that crowded. Eventually we ended up in a nearby Italian-Turkish place.

The German railway app was a catastrophe for the bus connections in Koblenz, not only in this moment but pretty much all the time (which was also the case in last year’s trip). We waited for a bus nearly an hour and finally could go back to the hostel.

Still fortunately it was not too late for a few bottles of beer. This time more people joined, maybe relaxed to have the big hike behind us. As I already stated above, it was the first time that we travelled on Friday and had an entire day on Saturday. Still we managed it.

Day 2 – most of us slept apparently really well, except for Rohith. For me it was like I went to bed and when I woke up it was morning. Amazing.

In the last 1 or 2 weeks, the pressure on me was mounting to organise a public hiking event, as there was no official event planned on Meetup or Facebook this weekend. In the end I reluctantly created one for Sunday. Just as always, I wasn’t quite sure how we’d feel, because in the last weekend trips we never really managed to do a full hike on the last day. But this time it turned out to be quite okay, as not only me, but some others had enough energy to complete another one. Anyway, the weather forecast was rather gloomy, so that almost no one signed up in the end.

After breakfast, we walked around the fortress. The first ones left the group when we reached the cable car, which goes from the fortress to the city center. As some people did not manage to reach the train in time when we went down, we were only half the people in the end to hike.

Download kml / gpx

Initially the trail was made by Zaman, partially changed by me to make it more ambitious. But the main goal of the trail was to reach lake Laach, which was basically the only one place we’d have been able to swim nearby. This plan was created when we had a couple of hot days around Düsseldorf. This time, we had barely 20 degrees. So in the end we kind of decided no to go to the lake in the first place, but since the trail itself was quite nice, we kept half of it and decided to go back after midway.

There was an abandoned railway line in this area. It might still be used as a tourist attraction, but for sure it not maintained properly. They are the witnesses of the German industrialisation and I find it always interesting to see them every now and then in now small villages.

The first part turned to be excruciating after a full hike yesterday, but a great path. Once more, we had a great view over the Rhine. There are a few castles on the photo – no idea how many there are.

This area turned out to be a place with a lot of traces of the Roman Empire. There were a couple of explanations along the way and we could indeed see stones that were obviously cut in a particular manner.

We had a break there, where there were a couple of restaurants, but all of them were unfortunately closed. In strong contrast to yesterday, where there was nearly no one other than us, there were a lot of people hiking today. I wonder whether it was because it was Sunday, or because the trail was a particularly good one.

At least it was particularly interesting to see the caves along the way, which appeared right after the break. This was the part made by Zaman, but since he did it automatically with Komoot, he was not aware of this place either.

After the hike, we stopped in Bonn, in order to have something hearty (although here on the photo we were only eating ice cream). We reached Düsseldorf around 10pm. I’d have never imagined that our energy would last that long over the entire weekend.

This one was the very first weekend hike this year, after a long winter break and a forced corona break. Maybe simply because it was the first time after a long time, but I’d say this was one of the best, if not the very best, among the weekend hikes we’ve had so far.

Here are a couple of things that could have been better: Firstly, we did not have a good overview over the train ticket situation. Even though I don’t think I was responsible for getting the right ticket to go to Koblenz and come back from there, I still think the search results that accumulated over time could have been better organized, i.e. since anyway I was looking at the ticket prices and their validity, I could have written them down somewhere on the event page or in the WhatsApp group to make it ready for everyone.

Then I could have made it clear that we were following Moselsteig beforehand, by sharing the tag or something. This could have given them a bit more freedom, but also avoided to create a cluster which attracted attention, just as always. Maybe sharing the location throughout the day is also helpful.

This has been quite a problem in many weekend hikes, but this time since we had a really hard time to get dinner, maybe we should think about making a reservation beforehand. We don’t have to do it days in ahead, but on the day during the lunch time or so, we could at least think about it.

And lastly, the idea of organising a public event attached to the weekend hike is merely a bad idea.

I’ll see mostly the same people in three weeks in Heidelberg. I’m so endlessly looking forward to it. See you there!