When I talk about my travel over Eurasia, people often think that I planned it for a long time. That’s actually not quite true. It took maybe a day in order for me to make a specific plan from the moment I first had this idea.
Similarly, I had a conversation with Bhagyashree during the hike in Weeze recently about the possibility of going far away over a weekend. And probably the next day, I already had the whole plan.
All this happened right after the cooking evening which was the first event at our new apartment, which unfortunately did not go very well. On the other hand, I really really wanted to organize this travel successfully, so I put a bit more pressure than usual. In the end, after we bought the train tickets, it took just a week until everyone paid. So great that it went so well in the end.
One of the main reasons why it was possible to organize such a long-distance travel was because there’s something called “group ticket” offered by German railway. This is offered to group with more than 5 people. In our case, we could travel for 26 € for both ways. Why not enjoying this possibility?
So much for the planning. And all this was not a problem for me, because there was something that we had to think about all the time, and we had to talk about all the time: weather. Just as always, two weeks ahead of the hike, the weather forecast was predicting bright blue sky for this weekend. The situation drastically changed about a week before the hike. I can hardly believe that they could change it to storm. And in the end, they decided to converge to something like a mixture of sun and rain. Brilliant, especially because it ended up being cloudy.
Well, before talking about how it went, here’s the overview: in the morning of the 21st of October, we see each other in front of Düsseldorf main station. Then we take an IC, up to Koblenz, where some people (such as Bhagyashree) join at Cologne or Bonn. Then from Koblenz we take a local train, that goes slowly along the Moselle river, which is a very famous place among the hiking lovers. It goes up to Ürzig, from where we hike towards the hostel in Traben-Trarbach along the Moselsteig. Then on the second day, we hike from Traben-Trarbach to Reil (which is at 16 km from Traben Trarbach) or Bullay (at 21 km), depending on how much energy we have. And finally, we come back by train from Koblenz to Düsseldorf, by doing the inverse of the outgoing journey. Easy, right?
In addition to the habitual participants of the hikes, we also had my flatmates, Alfredo and Karina. Instead of going to Ürzig with us by train, they decided to go to Koblenz a day in advance by car. This made me think that it might make sense that I organize something with Japanese people. I did it. And it lasted until 2 am, with a lot of beer and energy.
If you know me well, you are certainly not surprised that I planned to prepare my backpack in the morning of the departure, thinking that I would have enough time. This assumption was extremely wrong. I didn’t even have time for breakfast, which I just put in a lunch box (which is conceptually wrong) and went to the train station. I’m not a kind of person who can sleep well in a vehicle. But this time I slept away the complete journey up to Koblenz.
As always, our train had a significant delay, so that we missed our train for Ürzig. Thirty minutes later, we took a different one, which did not directly go there, so that it took much more time in the end. The weird thing is that, while waiting for the train and on the way, it was quite stormy.
And it was thanks to this delay, that we could avoid rain altogether. It looked even almost sunny when we arrived at Ürzig, even if it was just for a very short while.
Probably because of the weather, there was pretty much no one along the Moselsteig, even though the path itself was a perfect hiking path: most of the time, it was surrounded by trees, but every now and then we could have an open view over the Moselle. For us, coming from Düsseldorf, there were simply too many perfect spots to have a break, so that we stopped fairly often. It would have been a perfect view if the weather had been very good, although we cannot complain since it was at least not raining.
I was still struggling with the remaining alcohol from the previous day. Going up and down only seemed to me like a physical exercise.
Appropriately enough, there were several locations for a break. It must be crowded in summer. But we had a break in the middle of nowhere, although we had a great view over the Moselle valley.
I still remember exactly who joined the hike this weekend. But the very person that everyone will certainly remember is Oli. Not because of her distinctive voice, but more because of the energizers she wanted to play. The very first one, ninja, for which actually I found an instructive video on vimeo, kicked me out at the very beginning. I’m just not aggressive enough for this kind of activity. I’m a peaceful guy 🙂
Today, it was not particularly necessary to show the path. So I simply stayed at the end of the group almost all the time. Quite surprisingly, it was the Latin people who were near the head of the group (by the way, when I say “Latin people”, I also mean people from Latin language speaking people from Europe). I was not expecting this from my otherwise extremely flatmates (Alfredo and Karina).
At the end of the day, it started raining a little bit, but it was just the remaining 3 or 4km. We arrived in Traben Trarbach without being completely wet, which is quite satisfactory for Germany. The youth hostel in Traben-Trarbach was not quite a youth hostel that you find in other countries. It was indeed simple, but very clean and comfortable. That’s probably the nice thing about youth hostels in small places, because if you go to Amsterdam or Paris for example, you often bump into something you don’t really want to see.
Then came the problem: dinner. In such a small place, it is simply not easy to find a place that can spontaneously contain so many people. When we crossed the bridge, we saw a restaurant/bar with a terrace with enough space for everyone.
When we left the place a few hours later, I was not quite able to go straight anymore.
After coming back from the restaurant, actually we stayed awake for some time in the hostel, playing football etc. It was probably good that there was no alcohol anymore in the hostel. I must have been the most drunk person before we went to bed, but somehow I was also the first person to wake up. Actually, the breakfast was half over when everyone arrived. So strange. Anyway, despite my very low expectations, the breakfast at the hostel was actually pretty good. Not bad for a hostel.
There’s this thing called “German youth hostel association membership”, which they call “International membership”, even though I have never heard of it in other countries. It’s usually for one year and is actually not very cheap (something like 22 € for adult?). I didn’t have a problem with paying that money but it would have been a little bit stupid, as the year is almost over (because it’s always from January to December). In the end, however, they did not ask for it. Now the hostel has an even better impression for me.
We waited for Anirban for some time in the morning, as he used couch surfing instead of staying with us in the hostel (and his hosts started breakfast fairly late). We very often forget about it, but almost all of us met each other on couch surfing. It’s not quite surprising that one of us is indeed using it in the way as it was conceived.
From Traben-Trarbach, we could already see a castle on top of the mountain. This was our first goal. I almost never talk about what kind of map I use, but it’s actually not really adapted for 3D problems. And this time we could strongly feel the effect, as we were just walking upwards for quite some time. It was a great view from the top, but on the map on my iPhone it just looked disappointing, because it looked as if we were still in Traben-Trarbach.
I don’t know exactly why, but Bhagyashree looked extremely exhausted all the time, actually from the very beginning of the trip. I was already worried about her, but then there were people like Oli, who tend to be tired more quickly than others. Anyway, the general consensus was that everyone looked tired when we arrived at the castle. I was really not sure anymore if we could manage to go the entire route, which was estimated to be around 22km.
Fortunately, we did not have to go up and down so much anymore. Not completely flat, but it was comfortably hilly.
Around noon, it started raining again. Luckily, it was not far away from the civilization today. We quickly moved to a nearby city/village. This place must be a very busy place in summer, when there are a lot of hikers, especially because also a Camino de Santiago goes through this place. But as it was rainy and cold, there was pretty much no one from outside. It was not surprising that there was on one in the Italian restaurant that we dropped in. The owner of the restaurant clearly seemed happy with a sudden influx of so many people.
At the beginning of the hike, we thought we wouldn’t make it to the end of the trail. So we quickly moved to the plan B, which was to stop at Reil.
While we were staying in the Italian restaurant, the rain stopped, despite my weather forecast app. Today, it was virtually completely useless. Actually it was getting better and better. And the landscape was getting more and more beautiful. In the end, we arrived at Reil at 4:15pm. The train going from Bullay, which was around 5km away, was leaving after 7pm. This probably led almost everyone back to my initial plan, to go up to Bullay on foot. Only Bhagyashree and Amulya stayed at Reil and took a train.
The sky was almost blue. We might have been going the best part of the entire hike. The hiking path I made up just in order to make a good distance turned out to be a very good one, going through a forest on the hillside, giving a perfect view over the Moselle.
In the end, we arrived at Bullay an hour before the departure of the train. Right after we arrived at Bullay, there was a train going to Koblenz. And we stayed at Koblenz until our IC came and took us back to Düsseldorf. I must say, the IC was not quite the same as before. Now it’s not the dirty slow train, but is now fast and offers so much comfort.
So much was my first experimental trip. And I would like to state my observations here. Firstly, from the organizational point of view, there was nothing I had to fear in the end. I knew that no one would complain if there had been a mistake in the plan, but I was afraid of not being capable of carrying out the plans according to my planning. Actually, from the moment this trip was conceived, there was almost nothing to do. Everyone was extremely cooperative. And we all spontaneously participated.
On the other hand, I’m now not so sure if I’d organize another trip in the near future. This is because in total, I don’t really see why we should stay at one place overnight. The reality is that anyway for living in Düsseldorf, we can go out in the evening together. Especially, we organize movie sessions and other fancy stuff at my place. And it’s working perfectly. In this sense, there was no reason that we sleep at the same place. And I must say, I could feel high expectations of everyone, just as mine. And I guess everyone felt the same as I did. But in this regard, it was maybe a little bit unfortunate that we stayed in a hostel, because we did not have the possibility of bringing drinks from outside and we were not really staying at the same place. So since I made a reservation of an entire apartment complex for the Easter vacation, this point might change entirely.
In the coming days, I’ll think about it again and find a conclusion. Let’s see what’s gonna come out 🙂