Hiking report

Weekend trip to Kaub!

It’s been only two weeks since we went to Neustadt and now we are on a weekend trip again – this time to Kaub, which lies along the Rhine between Frankfurt and Koblenz. This one is one of those low-risk trips, because I didn’t have to book a train ticket and the hostels in Rhineland Palatinate tend to be relatively easy going.

So far is the organizational background. When it comes to the content, this one was one of those which don’t sound particularly attractive, but I looked forward to a lot. You might know that the Rhine goes along many cities, but this section of the Rhine, essentially the one between Mainz and Koblenz, is quite famous for the beautiful landscape and the number of castles. While you can reach this area easily by train from Düsseldorf, you can get a completely different impression with the views over those castles and vineyards from many places.

So with this in mind, Zaman signed up very quickly, but all the others did so probably because it was a weekend trip. Well that’s perfectly fine. After all, it’s probably better to keep the expectations low rather than other way around.

As Niloofar and Jana were going by car, only Emanuel and I were arriving by train. Thinking it was a comfortable a journey, we had to understand the reality very quickly: our first train to Koblenz got a delay of more than 1h. At the end of the journey, I got a notification on my phone, saying “you won’t make it. Look for alternatives.” Shouldn’t you be at least apologizing? Anyway, we got the next train from Koblenz to Kaub, which got further 20 min delay. That’s how things work in Germany. Never trust the train schedule.

But it was Friday evening. The situation wasn’t much better for the people arriving by car. Emanuel and I found out quickly when we arrived in Kaub that we were the first ones to be there (despite a delay of around 1h30). We first went to the hostel and got all the keys. I didn’t know much about the hostel in Kaub, but this one was a former castle, like many others here. It took us at least 10 min to figure out how to reach our rooms. This was by the way a particularly clean hostel, where there were also towels available.

Then we went further to the restaurant for which I had made a reservation beforehand (at least I learned something from the experience in Neustadt…). I just knew that we had to go straight along the “Main Street”. This Main Street in Kaub turned out to be the one on the photo above. There’s just this one street and nothing else here. We could also hardly hear anything on the way. I was imagining the horror that they’d have to undergo when we all are traversing this small village.

Despite the reservation being at 8pm, we arrived at the restaurant at 8:30 (although I had at least informed them that we’d be slightly late). The staff at the restaurant were nice and didn’t take it personally. I’ve been calling it a restaurant but it’s actually more a winery and had a good collection of local wines. Just like in Neustadt, we could order a glass of wine (0.1 cl) for a very low price (around 2€) and we could try out different types. Some people didn’t know the concept and simply got beer and other stuff. Maybe I should have made it clear beforehand.

This was a German restaurant, but was out of potatoes and cheese. As you can probably easily imagine, the German cuisine is mostly about cheese and potatoes. We had a very limited list of food we could get, but it was unbeatably good for the price. And the wines were of course excellent.

I had quite a number of glasses and was on the verge of not knowing anymore what I had. As it turned out they didn’t know it exactly either. Anyway, while the restaurant was open only until 10pm, it was past 11pm when we left the place.

I fell asleep as soon as I entered my bed. We kept the windows open and it was quite cold outside, but for some reason the room temperature never went down in the night. I had to take a cold shower at some point and then could sleep till morning. It was somewhat nice to hear the trains going back and forth somewhere far.

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Just like every other weekend trip this year, I could wake up extremely well. Maybe because I had only light colored drinks. Just like in Neustadt, we had a normal buffet again here.

Here was what was planned for the day: we first take a train from Kaub to St. Goarshausen, then walk along the Rheinsteig back to Kaub. That’s it. The train going from Kaub was leaving at 9:23. I indeed made sure that we all make it by then, but for some reason we were ready much earlier this time.

I was surprised to see that Kaub was also still with in the so called VRM area. I know this area from our last trip to Koblenz, because from the end of NRW it was all VRM. Apparently Kaub is on the edge of the VRM area, so if we should ever need a ticket up to NRW, we just have to buy a VRM ticket. And this time we got another mini group card like in Koblenz for 16,10€ for 5 people for the entire day, even though actually we used it only once.

Right from the train station of St. Goarshausen we could follow the Rheinsteig. Anyway in this area all the civilization is on a very narrow strip of land along the Rhine, so as soon as you go towards the mountains, usually you enter the nature very quickly.

As always, there was a long path going from the lowest point to the mountain right at the beginning. Already in this moment the group was stretched far apart. This didn’t change much throughout the day. This being said, some people were quite experienced and others joined on a weekend trip for the first time, so there was no suprise.

This part of Rheinsteig is apparently one of the most popular sections. Wherever we went, we were never all alone. There was one couple complaining about us being too loud, but I have to say it’s a little ridiculous to look for silence in this area.

We could also quickly see why this area was so famous. From the beginning till the end, we constantly got viewpoints. With the position of the sun changing, it got also gradual changes of light, but also the landscape was not quite constant, as there were not only vineyards, but sometimes the surface was more rocky and sometimes just forestal.

So far I didn’t really talk about the weather, but this week we saw a short comeback of the summer. The temperature reached almost 30 degrees in the middle of the week. Even though it got slightly cooler since then, we were still enjoying an extremely good weather this weekend. With around 25 degrees, it could have been maybe a bit cooler, but there’s still nothing to complain about.

It was still towards the beginning that we reached Loreley, a famous piece of rock which is somehow extremely famous for some reason. It was a touristic area itself, and along with a large café, there was also a toboggan, as you can see on the photo above. I first thought it was just an attraction for children, but I quickly found out that with more than 30 km/h, it is almost scary to be sitting on the cart without seatbelt. I was taking a video but had to abandon it quickly.

While 5 of us were having fun there, the others went further, and from this moment on we were never all together until the end of the day.

Compared to some other sections of Rhein steig, such as around Bonn, there were not many trees in this section. In this perfect weather, it was getting slightly hard in the afternoon. We nevertheless had lunch in a refuge around the middle point under the shining sun, mainly because we saw that there weren’t more possibilities along the way anymore. Eating is a thing in this area, because what you get here is mostly bread with meat or cheese. As I was trying to be a vegetarian over the weekend (note: I naturally almost never eat meat), what I could get was mostly only cheese, even though I don’t particularly like cheese.

Since the beginning of the lockdown, I have a very regular daily program. There’s a 16-min siesta after lunch everyday. So after lunch, I could hardly keep a normal conversation with other people. At some point I simply gave up and chose one spot to sleep for some time.

After my nap, I had to walk quite some time all alone. I didn’t write it at the beginning, but actually today, I didn’t take my backpack, meaning I had nothing with me. As I also didn’t drink much water at the refuge, I was starting to fear that I’d be too dehydrated. At some point there was a small stream and I thought about drinking its water, but hey we are in Germany – we never know how clean water in the nature is.

Luckily, it didn’t take much time for me to find the others. It was. Around 3pm, and Kaub was still at least 8km away. Almost at the same time I got a message in the WhatsApp group that Felipe already reached Kaub. How was that possible? Anyway I quickly made sure that no one starts hurrying, because it made also little sense to arrive in Kaub so early. Zaman and all the others were fortunately still not far away from where I was, even though we didn’t see each other till the end of the day anyway.

We were mostly walking along the cliff throughout the day, but towards the end of the day we had an endless field, which was a plateau on to of the mountains. While the surrounding areas changed a lot when we were walking along the cliff, this plateau looked a bit like Velbert, with small fractions of forests and towns to see, but there were mostly large grass fields. I walked with Kartik through that area. There was a hotel towards the end, where we got a glass of water. Then we walked through a large section of vineyard right before we reached Kaub. It was 6pm. I guess except for Felipe and Emanuel, we all arrived around 6pm. It could have hardly been better organized.

With the mini group tickets we bought in the morning, we could have travelled to a nearby city to have dinner, but we decided to go back to the same restaurant in the end, because most of us wanted to have dishes with potatoes or cheese this time, but also because of the price and nice collection of wines.

I got a reservation for 8pm again. In the meantime, some people decided to go to St Goarshausen to get a few bottles of wine, to make sure that we’d have some stuff to drink after dinner. I wanted to drink with them at first, thinking they’d buy decent wines. As it turned out later, they got 3 bottles for something like 4€ each. That’s not quite the quality that you’d expect in this region…. It would have been easier if the bistro at the hostel had been open, but unfortunately it was also open only until 10pm. I don’t know whether it was because of corona or generally like this (mostly it’s until midnight but from the beginning of corona we keep seeing 10pm).

The staff at the restaurant were apparently amused to see us again. This time we could get what we wanted to have, although actually I liked the Flammkuchen more that I got the previous day, than the Käseknödel, which was available this time since there was cheese. And this time, I got a lot of sweet wines, which I actually don’t really like. I was also not feeling particularly well at the end of the evening. We left the restaurant much earlier this time and went to the riverside. There, we started drinking and playing Black Stories. With my exhaustion reaching the maximum, I can now hardly remember what we were talking about. At around 11pm, I dropped out, together with Rohith, which essentially dissolved the group altogether. This was probably the first time that I went to bed even before midnight on a weekend trip.

Next morning, when I woke up Emanuel was already gone – he went to Stuttgart to find a new apartment as he was moving there early next year.

I had to go to the entrance area several times in the morning in order to pay. I still don’t understand why they didn’t want me to pay until the last moment. Anyway, right before our departure I finally managed it and we left the place around 9:20.

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Today’s plan was a bit more complicated: since we had two cars, we’d go to Lorch all by car. Then we’d cross the Rhine with a ferry, where we’d essentially leave the cars and walk along the Rhine up to Bacharach. Crossing the Rhine by ferry was an idea that came about out of necessity – the nearest bridges were either in Koblenz or Mainz, both of which were at least 50 km away. But I have to say it was a cool experience itself to cross the river by boat.

Today’s trail was much more about vineyards – we could see various kinds of vineyards along the way. And this time, fortunately, no one stole the grapes. Very good :).

The very reason that there are vineyards is because there’s a lot of sunlight. Today, I had the feeling I was being burnt by the sun all the time. It was slightly unexpected that it would get so warm today (>25 deg), because September is already half way through. Climate change?

There was a small highlight of the day: fruits. It’s autumn, and even here in Germany you can find a lot of wild fruits. We could mostly harvest apples and plums along the way. The wild apples are extremely sour, but the plums were actually really good. Here on the photo, Zaman was trying to get the plums from the tree, which didn’t work particularly well in this moment, but we quickly figured out a good way to do so and got so many plums that we couldn’t even finish eating on the day (I continued eating them the next day).

And here’s one photo where Rohith was trying to get wild apples.

At the end of the day, we arrived in the city of Bacharach, which Zaman wanted to see. It’s a famous touristic city, which remained untouched during the war – something quite rare here in Germany.

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