Tag Archives: train

Schwartzwald and dinner

We left Friedrichshafen Friday afternoon about 1 pm. Our train went west along the Bodensee, curved south around the northwestern arm, called Überlingen See, to Radolfzell, then west again to Singen, where we changed trains to one bound north through the Schwarzwald.

Schwarzwald, the Black Forest of Hansel and Gretl and many other fearsome tales of our childhood. My notes of this first part of the journey are more concerned with the lady whose dog got loose in the Singen train station than with any fearsome fables. It wasn’t until I noticed the upcoming stop at Donaueschingen that I started paying closer attention to the world outside my window. Donau!!?? That’s the German word for what we Americans call the Danube. I always associated that river with Austria and points east. What’s it doing in southern Germany?

Well, it turns out that Donaueschingen is known as the source of the Danube. The whole time we went through Donaueschingen, I was watching carefully for a river of any size. Nothing. After we got out of the town, we went along a nice valley that had a little stream in it that seemed little more than a canal that toy boats could sail in.

Later I came to find out that the Danube is formed from two rivers coming together at Donaueschingen. They are named Breg and Brigach. Brigach was the one we were passing along. Well. The countryside was beautiful though and some hills were starting to show.

Within 15 minutes we were at St George (Sankt Georgen) amongst some serious forest. We left the river course then for some tunnels and steep valleys. Good stuff!

St. George, Triberg, Hornberg, Hausach, Haslach, Biberach. All set in what my map tells me is Naturpark Schwarzwald Nord/Mitte. I would like to come back here.

Around Biberach we noticed that this train had a stop scheduled in Rastatt. Why didn’t Wilfried tell us to go there instead of Baden Baden? Frantic texts, emails, attempts to phone ensued. Finally Mary got through and found out that the Baden Baden Hbf is closer to their house than the one in Rastatt. OK.

The last few stops before Baden Baden were approximately 30 seconds each with the train accelerating to around 90 mph for only 4 or 5 minutes in between. And very smooth.

Wilfried had mentioned earlier in the week that he and Elisabeth had a social engagement Friday night that they couldn’t get out of: a dinner at their neighbor’s. Mary and I thought they would go and leave us at their house. When we got to Wilfried’s, it was 5 pm and Elisabeth had the table all set with 4 giant pieces of cream cake and wine. We hadn’t eaten a proper lunch again so we fell to with gusto. After a while, someone said, what time are we expected at the neighbors? Answer, 6 pm. I looked at my phone: 5 minutes til 6.

So now it develops that we were expected all along to join them so get your coat on, we’re going. Never mind that I felt like I would never eat again. I should have known.

We had a lovely dinner at Felix and Yolanda’s. Neither spoke much English but we got along. The food was great: Felix barbequed sausages and chicken kabobs outside in the rain while the rest of us sat around the table and talked and drank.

Back at Wilfried’s about 10 pm, he brought out a special 16 year old Spätlese Reisling and we sat around and talked some more until past midnight. What a day!


Wednesday we bid farewell to the Mosel River valley. Wilfried took us through the new tunnel under Burg Landshut and out into the Hunsrück en route to Mannheim and a train to Munich.

I sat in the back seat with Mary driving and Wilfried narrating history and tried to keep track of the towns and highways we went on. Morbach, Birkenfeld, and onto the autobahn east through Kaiserslautern. There was some confusion as to whether we should head for Karlsruhe or Mannheim. Mannheim won as the train there was a little later even though it was out of Wilfried’s way somewhat.

We noted the presence of the large US hospital at Landstuhl as well as the Ramstein air base. Somewhere around Neuleiningen the hills and forest of the Hunsrück opened up to the wide Rhine River valley.

At the Mannheim Hbf, we said our goodbyes and heartfelt thanks to Wilfried and committed ourselves to the German train system. The first train we didn’t do so well: all the seats were taken and we didn’t feel like hauling our large bags through the whole train to find a seat. We only had to get to Stuttgart, about 40 minutes, before we had a transfer, so we stood in the doorway at the end of the car.

After that it was much better. We had seats and I amused myself timing the kilometer posts and calculating our speed. 27 seconds per kilometer equals about 150 kph or about 95 mph. Pretty fast and very smooth.

In Munich, we got situated in our hotel then headed out to find the Marianplatz and the animated glockenspiel. It was due to ring at 5 pm and we had about 45 minutes. As it turned out, we needed every bit of that as I misread the map and took us down a street at right angles to the Platz. We saw the dancing figures, along with about 1000 other tourists, pretty much all of whom had their cell phones held out over their heads recording the event. People actually started leaving before it was over.


We didn’t, but felt the need for sustenance. We hadn’t really gotten lunch with all our train changing. On the other hand, Andreas had texted us inviting us for dinner at 6:30. Solution: ice cream!

Thus buoyed, we walked to our dinner rendezvous. We later figured it was just under 3 km from Marienplatz to the restaurant. Our hotel was about halfway in between so our days’ walking ended up being 6 or 7 km by the time we were done.

Andreas had told us Julia was under the weather, so when I first saw her, in her stroller with a pacifier in her mouth and a hood over her head, I thought this might be a bad idea. A few tickle overtures, however, opened the gates and before long she was walking along the street holding my hand.

At the restaurant, the food was slow in coming and Julia began exploring. There was no one seated near us, so she pulled silverware off adjacent tables, and messed with the decorations in the window alcoves.

I tried a distraction. I asked her if she wanted to come outside with me. She did! We went outside and walked down the street a ways. I pointed out things in my simple German: Bicycle! Motorcycle! At the corner drugstore (luckily closed) I lifted her up onto the window sill and helped her jump down to the sidewalk. Now her eyes were sparkling!

After dinner, Luisa had to leave as she was taking a 5 am train to Austria the next morning. The rest of us stopped down the street at a gelato place. Then it was time for all of us to say goodbye. Mary and I walked back to the hotel. We were in bed by 10.

Just for fun, here’s my photo of Marienplatz from my visit in January 1982: