After the worst night of the holiday, I decided to get up at 06:00 for a run. The lack of sleep had given me a bit of a headache, and the dodging of so much broken glass during every mile of this run really didn’t help. One of the places I needed to run past though was the Bockenheimer Warte subway entrance as I’d missed this during the previous evening by not wanting to walk that far. My reasoning for wanting to see it was that it looks like a subway car crashed into the ground.
After around 5 miles I’d passed so many people still out from the night before, and was fed up with the stopping and starting of this run so headed back to the hotel for breakfast. The pub opposite the hotel was already open with people drinking and shouting. It did make me wonder though, do people in Frankfurt have to be constantly drunk to cope with life in Frankfurt?
This time the breakfast was included, so I sorted myself out for the day first, and fuelled up ready to go. The train I should have been on was cancelled due to repairs, and DB hadn’t even notified me of this until about an hour before. I had however found this out for myself the night before when double checking details for today.
There was an alternative ICE train in place that would still get me to the same place at the same time, and would also be leaving from the same platform. The only difference is that where it would continue on to after my stop would differ. Today the clouds were looking dark, so I was wondering for the first time on this holiday whether I would actually need my waterproof coat. The forecast was suggesting a 90% chance of rain all day in Trier.
The train paused for about fifteen minutes before carrying on, and the times were now saying it’d get in late. I’d got just four minutes to get between platforms. I’m sure I could do it. As the time to disembark crept closer, the DB app pinged again to say I’d miss my connection. More than four minutes to change platforms? I can’t imagine that. Then a few minutes later the schedule updated to show the new arrival time was six minutes after my connection was due to leave. Okay, that’d do it.
I quickly searched the application for an alternative route. The next possible way to get to Trier would be around two hours later, so I’d only have just over an hour once there. It was going to be tough to see everything! Do I scrap Trier and go directly to Köln to have more time there? No. I’d not missed any of the planned stops yet, and I wasn’t about to now, not with the end in sight. What this meant though was that maybe I couldn’t linger too long at sights there, but I’d got a whole extra city to explore. It was an unexpeccted opportunity.
When the train pulled in, I checked platform 1, just in case. It wasn’t there, so I left the train station and just started walking. I didn’t know where I was going, or where I’d get to, but as I’d got my luggage bouncing along besides me I didn’t really want to go too far. At first it seemed like there was nothing much, but I did find a park with a monument of some sort that could be climbed, and a number of waterfalls around a garden. Other than a few churches, that was all I could find.
Back at the train station I bought a slice of Mandeltorte cake, and sat waiting for the 11:42 ICE train that would get me to Saarbrücken. This arrived a few minutes late, and was so busy that there were no seats free. I found myself sitting on the floor for the next 80 or so minutes. When I realised the train had come from Frankfurt as well, I felt it made more sense. Everything around Frankfurt seemed a waste of time. My train getting there had been delayed, I’d not found much to see, it was noisy and filthy, I’d not slept much, and now trains leaving there were delayed so much. This was also the place where when passing through the airport a few years previous, my camera backpack had tested positive for explosives, and I was taken aside. Fortunately, the connection in Saarbrücken was unlikely to be missed as even with the existing delay I’d still got fifteen minutes to play with.
Fortunately I made the last train to get me to Trier, and arrived there at 14:27. I’d now got until 15:41 to catch the train to Koblenz, and according to Google Maps, walking between all the sights I wanted to see would take 81 minutes. As long as I could quickly find, and use, the luggage storage at the train station, I felt that was something I could manage. I’d walk quickly of course, and hopefully wouldn’t need to run, anywhere I could save time, I’d have to try.
Just twenty minutes before I was due to arrive in Trier, I got an alert on my phone that my train from Trier to Köln Messe was cancelled. Considering this consists of three trains to get there, it could have been any of them, or all of them. My plan was to go ahead with the planned timings, and see how far I could get before having to reschedule or reroute, if I had to.
As soon as the train stopped in Trier, I was ready to go, but the train doors would not open. It then moved forward a bit, and stopped. Still, the doors would not open. It moved forward one last time and then stopped with enough force to make people stagger, and then the doors would finally open. This messing around had already lost me three minutes. It might not sound much, but every minute was going to count. It was now 14:29, I’d got 72 minutes to go.
I rushed downstairs with my suitcase, and then back up the other set. On this platform, the one the entrance opens onto, I found there were storage lockers I’d hoped. When I’d searched on Google I found suggestions there were some, just not where. This was €3.50 to use, but I didn’t have the right coins anymore after having bought that cake. I remembered seeing a shop in the building as I’d passed the door, so quickly went in and figured out what I could buy to get change. Nothing had prices on, so I had to hope for the best, and fortunately got €2.50 in coins, which was enough to give me the right change. I went back to the locker as quickly as possible, and found when locking it, it stuck a little at first, but eventually it took it and released the key.
I zipped up my waterproof coat, and headed through the train station and out the other side, knowing that if I kept on going forward I’d reach Porta Nigra. Unfortunately it was raining when I got there, and having lost the time meant I could no longer go in, but at least I’d still see it.
From there I carried on walking briskly until I found the Church of Saint Gangolf with an ornamental fountain and a cross in front of it. I hadn’t realised at the time that some of the buildings there were also timber framed - I found this out later on my way back. I saw the Cathedral of Saint Peter to the left so went towards this and took a few photographs. I didn’t go in as with how much rain there was, I didn’t want to risk my lens steaming up and losing time. In front of the church are some gardens so I went through those instead.
One through the gardens I found this took me to the Kaiserthermen ruins. To see them properly, you need to pay for admission, but again, I no longer had that much time. I then headed in the direction of the Babarathermen ruins, but these were closed. I photographed what I could from the entrance, and kept on going.
My next destination was the house of Karl Marx - this wasn’t too difficult to find, but to fit it in properly I found I needed a wide-angle lens, such as the one on my iPhone. The rain had just about stopped, and on my way back to the Jesuit Church, it had. I also came across a fountain made from iron, that again I hadn’t known about beforehand.
With that done, my list of sights to see were complete, so I walked back to the square, and then the cathedral to get some better photographs. What I hadn’t realised about the cathedral is that there’s actually three buildings there. There is the house-like building at the front, the Liebfrauenkirche, and the actual cathedral. I decided I’d finished quick enough to risk going inside, so started off with the Liebfrauenkirche and thought the altar in the middle was quite cool. There was little else in there I wanted to photograph so moved on to the cathedral and took a few more photographs there. Both of these were free entry, which meant entering and exiting was quick.
I’d now got eleven minutes to cover what maps.me said would take ten minutes, and still needed to collect my luggage. I jogged for about twenty seconds, and then switched to just walking fast. Each road crossing felt like forever having to wait for traffic, but I made it back to the train station with five minutes to spare. I searched my pocket for the key, unlocked the storage, and moved with my stuff as quickly as possible down the stairs and back up the next set onto platform 12 süd to see that the train I was expecting was expected to be twenty minutes late.
Another train being late would mean another missed connection when I got to Koblenz. I checked the application on my phone once more, and could see there was another train to Köln just 30 minutes after the one I would have gotten. It could have been worse. The train then arrived early, and the delay dropped to just ten minutes. This meant if it kept to that, I could still catch my original train if I really hurried when I got there. It felt like today had turned into a game of catch the train, where how quickly I could move would not affect the outcome. I was entirely dependent upon what the trains felt like doing, and today, they all seemed to think it’d be fun to be late.
When I got to Koblenz, even the train I was catching from there to Köln was delayed due to signal repairs. It meant the connection was easier, but if I wanted to get the train from Köln Hauptbahnhof to Messe/Deutz to save time, it’d be a longer wait. It felt like I’d spent the majority of the day on trains, or in train stations. To be honest, it’d been around seven hours so it wasn’t far off. I hoped I could find somewhere to eat quickly at the other end.
In Köln the sun was setting as I made my way between platforms for the last train of the day. This platform was packed, but very few of them got on the S19 train I was waiting for. I got off again two minutes after boarding, and tried to find my way out of the train station. This was harder than it seemed! Whilst on the train I’d identified a steakhouse that Google said was still open, so I made my way there. This took around ten minutes, but when I got there I found they were closed, and probably had been for a while as the shutters were down.
Not knowing where to get food from now, I headed to the hotel, figuring I’d keep an eye out for restaurants that were open along the way. It was past 19:00 now, and most places seemed to be closed. I found the ibis relatively easy, or at least thought I had, once again there was an ibis Budget next door, hidden by the first one.
The check-in was nice and quick, and the receptionist recommended L’osteria which was somewhere near the construction site I’d passed on the way here. I dropped my bags off in the room, and walked straight back out, at times jogging to get there quicker - especially when I had to backtrack after missing the turn. What made this difficult to find was a narrow passage between the railway line and the construction site, so the normal way of getting there was closed.
Once through the passageway it opened up into a big plaza. I could see the Motel One the receptionist had mentioned, and then I could see closed parasols. Are there lights on there? It looked like there may have been some dim lights there. I hoped they were open, I really did. I wanted to eat something warm after such a long day. When I heard the sound of music playing, the answer was obvious: they were open.
I was seated quickly and ordered within minutes. I went for a BBQ pizza, and this arrived around ten minutes after that. It was massive. It was bigger than any pizza I’ve ever seen or attempted to eat before, but I gave it a good go. I got maybe two thirds of the way through, picking out all the onions to discard on the side of the plate, and by that time it was starting to get cold. This pizza had defeated me! Within minutes after deciding I’d had enough, I’d paid, and was on my way back to the hotel.
I realised for breakfast I’d need water, but could see the nearest open grocery store was a mile away in the wrong direction. I didn’t really feel like going that far, but then remembered there was a Shell garage near the hotel. Sure enough they sold water. Maybe a lot had gone wrong today, but a lot had gone right too.
The day was now at a close, and I’d need to fill in the Passenger Locator form before returning home the day after tomorrow. This was a fairly simple form, but made more complicated by needing to state I’d be in a hotel in Manchester for two out of the ten days after returning to the UK. I couldn’t really omit that, and lawfully shouldn’t. So, if I had to explain those two days at immigration I would. Hopefully they wouldn’t stop me from doing that, as they are for the Manchester Marathon, my second attempt at getting a PB this year. I also had to include the booking reference from Boots for my COVID-19 Day 2 test, and scanned my proof of vaccination QR code. The rest wasn’t too different from an immigration card for any country I’ve visited. Just that this one is home.
Running: 4.55 miles, Walking: 8.45 miles, Train: 308.45 miles