Hiking report

Hiking from Merten to Blankenberg

As the corona restrictions are lifted more and more, the daily life today looks very much like before corona. Then problem for me is, however, there was no significant change for the hikes. Just as it was the case around a month ago, the social distancing rule applies in our case anyway. So as I did for a couple of weeks now, I organized two hikes over this weekend as well. One in VRS and one in VRR, in the hope that people will join only once. The plan worked probably quite well – by this morning, there were around 30 people signing up for today’s event, and for tomorrow slightly more. I mean, it’s possible that the number of participants per session was the same even if I had organized only one over this weekend, but with this comfortable number of people, I don’t think I should be complaining in any way.

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Well, there was another problem related to the relatively low number of participants: I couldn’t get a ticket from Köln Hbf. Here’s the short story of what the ticket situation for me looks like when we hike around Cologne: I have this thing called Bahncard 50, which allows me to buy a ticket to Köln Hbf for a low price, but only a ticket to Köln Hbf. Since we usually hike from a different train station, I have to find a person who has a VRS ticket who can take me for free. Since today this was not the case, my next option was to buy what’s called an EinfachWeiterTicket, which allows me to travel inside VRS area if I travel with someone who has a VRR ticket. This was fortunately the case this morning, as Ina from Duisburg could take me.

However, this story doesn’t end here. I thought I was in the right place in the right moment this morning, but I wasn’t. I could still go to the door of the departing train, but I couldn’t get it. For the first time in the 3-year history of hiking, I missed the train by my mistake.

I looked up other possibilities very quickly – I found out that there was one ICE going in the same direction around 20 min later, which would give me 1 min to change trains in Cologne. I took it, with the hope that this one wouldn’t have a delay. Miraculously, not only it didn’t have a delay, it actually arrived one minute earlier. In addition, the train for Merten had a delay of around 5 min, so that it all went smoothly. But one way or other, there’s nothing to be proud about. I really have to make sure next time that I leave home early enough.

On the train to Merten, I could see this river, Sieg. In fact the railway line goes along the river. In today’s perfect weather, I’m pretty sure that it would have been perfect to have a break in this river. I really have to think about making a trail to make that possible in the near future. By the way, I have to admit that the photo above was not the most beautiful one.

Just like during the hikes in the last couple of weeks, we had a lot of new people. Fortunately this train station Merten was so small that it had only one exit and hardly anyone else to see. Obviously they didn’t quite realise who was the organiser and when I left the train station to start hiking, it took me a while to realise that I was walking alone.

We walked along Natursteig-Sieg today, which I guess goes from Siegen to Bonn. So far, we’ve been there only once. As that one was really good, I was looking forward to this one. Well, I guess they could have done a better job for the first part going from the train station to the nature, as Merten is extremely small and there was hardly any reason to make us go through this village all the time.

Looking at the satellite picture, it looks very much like this area does not have much forest. But until the break, we were walking among the trees all the time. In today’s relatively hot weather, it was nice to avoid sunlight, but I’m pretty sure that it would have sucked if we were walking in autumn or spring.

There were a couple of people who joined for the first time, who were constantly lost today. Fortunately, Pratheek cared about them and I guess they made it to the end. Special thanks to him for doing such a great job.

We had a break in front of a church in Süchterscheid. This was a perfect place for picnic, as there was a nice grass field and also a restaurant right in front of it.

Frankly, I had to wonder why they had to make us cross large streets so often today. And otherwise the paths were also very often asphalted. Compared to something like Neanderlandsteig, where all trails are perfect, this one makes me wonder whether I should double-check it before we do the trail. Well, I’ll think about it the next time.

But our destination, Blankenberg, was a lovely place. Before going there, I was constantly getting confused with Blankenberg and Blankenheim, since we’ve already visited Blankenheim twice over the years and we loved it. But in the end, Blankenberg is just as lovely as Blankenheim. I’m pretty sure that we’re gonna make it a final destination next time again.

Well, the only one problem might have been the fact that the train station was surprisingly far away 🙂 Something to keep in mind.

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