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Published: June 25th 2019
Monday 24th June
Today I did a train trip across the Rhine into Germany and through the Black Forest. The train across the border from Mulhouse to Mullheim was French, needing a French ticket which I could not buy online as it is international. Then I used a one-day rail pass in Germany which I did buy online. The journey was a loop – from Mullheim across to Titisee, then a bus to Donaueshingen, onto the Black Forest line train to Offenburg, with a stop at Triberg to see the waterfall, then south back to Mullheim and back across to France. In all, seven trains and two buses on the day.
The train across the border was just a single diesel railcar, connecting with the German train which I took up to Freiburg. Here I had a half hour to explore a little bit. This part of Germany is really bicycle country – at the railway station there was a huge bicycle parking station full of bikes, which included a servicing business on site. There were also bikes whizzing everywhere in the town.
The train to Titisee was crowded with people, including a number of school groups, probably
heading further on to the lake Schluchsee. In fact, all the trains were quite full all day. The line from Freiburg to Titisee was quite scenic, and Titisee is a very pretty town, quite a tourist spot. Here I changed to a bus, because the rail line to Donaueschingen is closed for a total revamp. It was being electrified, and it was interesting to see all the new track, catenary masts and wires, etc being built. The sparkling new copper running wire was glistening in the sun! The bus went through a number of picturesque villages along the way.
In Donaueschingen I had an hour and a half stop for lunch, and found the huge Fürstenburg Park was a cool and peaceful spot to picnic, especially by the large pond. A stroll through the park was followed by a short walk to see the Donauquelle, a spring purported to be the source of the Danube (it is the source of one of two streams which join to form the Danube). Back to the station for the train north on the Black Forest line, one of the most scenic lines in Germany.
Travelling through the forest was delightful. Many
tunnels and bridges, mostly following the valley, with villages on the valley floor, and some houses on the hillsides. This is the steepest adhesion only (non-cog) railway line in Germany. I broke my journey at Triberg, which I had spotted on the internet as it has Germany's highest waterfall. Off the train and onto a local bus to where the uphill waterfall walk started. The forest was nice and cool (it was a hot day), and the falls very beautiful, dropping in a series of falls and cascades a total of 150 metres. Really a pleasant place to spend some time. Then the walk down through the town and back to the station, picking up a nice cold gelato on the way. The town is very picturesque, with plenty of clock shops of course, and some selling beautiful carved timber figurines and other items. No luggage room for souvenirs so I bought none!
At the station there was a railway display to look at, about the history of the line, and including an actual 50 class steam locomotive (a large freight engine, ten driving wheels) on display outside. Back on the train to Offenburg, many more tunnels and very
scenic as it descended down to the Rhine Valley. In Offenburg I had five minutes to change trains to the southbound train back down to Mullheim. This was a 90 minute trip through beautiful farming and grape-growing country – following the Rhine Valley. Many hillsides covered with grapevines, which was interesting because in France I saw endless wheat fields but virtually no grapes – even passing through the Champagne and Moselle regions of France I had seen no grapevines from the trains. Here in Germany I saw many – strange. Back in Mullheim I had four minutes to change to the French train back to Mulhouse.
My hotel room faces the sun all day, and the so called air conditioning never gets the temperature below 27 degrees in the room. It's quite uncomfortable really, especially after a long day being a tourist!
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