blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit

blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit
By Alison Hobbs, blending a mixture of thoughts and experiences for friends, relations and kindred spirits.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Means of transport

When we were due to leave Ottawa, we decided to take the local bus to the airport (Route 97) instead of calling a taxi. Chris was amazed at how easy and cheap this was: $2.70 per senior(!) We did have to trundle our luggage to the bus stop, but since we don't carry much with us these days, and it wasn't raining, no problem. When we came back from our trip we did the same in reverse.

Trams in Karlsruhe: on the left, the S-11
I was greatly impressed, once more, by the ease of travelling around Germany without a car. What's more, my rides on the trains, trams and busses last week gave me a good view of the new places I was seeing, and a sense of adventure. I had to pay attention when buying the tickets and made a mistake or two, but no harm done. There were plenty of places where I could ask for help, and helpful maps. If I lived there, it wouldn't take long for me to get used to the system, and I'd also get used to going places by bike, as everyone else apparently does, old and young. The network of bike paths in the towns and cities is phenomenal.

To reach Pforzheim from Frankfurt airport, or Mainz from Pforzheim, any number of trains were available to us. From anywhere in Germany it seems there's a regular service to anywhere else, several times an hour. At the end of the week we took a Swiss (SBB) train direct from Karlsruhe to Mainz –– it was en route from Basel to Hamburg, a 6 hour journey. Karlsruhe is not a major transport hub, but a few minutes before our train pulled out, we saw people on the next platform boarding a Munich to Berlin express, with double decker Regionalz├╝ge arriving at further platforms. The following day, the same wide ranging options at Mainz, where we caught a slow, stopping train back to Frankfurt airport, on our way to nearby Klesterbach for the night.

Platform at Mainz
One thing the Germans seem to do particularly well is to keep their stations central and at every railway station, there's a huge area set aside for bike parking.

Tram at Bad Wildbad, half train, half bus, beside the River Enz
It was particularly fun to go on the Strassenbahn: I could step into a regular "street car" from the city streets; as it trundled out of town, stopping every few hundred metres, it transformed its character to a country train; then, reaching its destination, it became another street vehicle again.

Last Tuesday (August 25th), after I'd spent the morning getting my bearings in Pforzheim, I decided to take the Enz valley tram to Bad Wildbad, upriver into the Black Forest. This ride followed the shallow, rocky river for most of the way, the scenery becoming more and more enticing. Where the hills became really steep, we went through tunnels. There's been a railway line here since 1868. Click on the link below, and you can share the journey with me ...

The spa town of Bad Wildbad is surrounded by steep slopes, with a funicular railway for tourists on one side of the town, that can take you to the top of the Sommerberg. An old coach is kept as a momento on the grass outside the railway station.

On the S-11 from Karlsruhe, having reached the countryside
More about Bad Wildbad later.

On Wednesday Chris and his colleagues were encouraging me to meet them for supper in Ittersbach, although I'd intended to visit Karlsruhe that day. No problem; I looked up the possibilities on the internet and realised I'd be able to do both, taking the S-11 train directly from the Karlsruhe Bahnhofplatz to Ittersbach Bahnhof, where I was met. It went through suburbs, villages, open fields, woods, apple orchards, round long curves and up and down some quite steep hills, "like a roller coaster" as one of my Facebook friends puts it: another exciting little 50 minute journey during which I sat in a seat behind the driver, able to take pictures of the track through his front window.

On Thursday, I rode on a bus, the 735 from Pforzheim to Maulbronn. Again, the journey took me through pretty countryside, close to vineyards as it approached its destination, an inexpensive and thoroughly enjoyable ride. I had the choice of a return at 3 minutes past each hour. Back in Pforzheim I hopped off the 735, waited a few minutes at the bus stop, then hopped onto the Number 1, a frequent service that takes its passengers right across town. I got off at the Stadtmuseum for some further education.

On the road from Maulbronn back to Pforzheim

Vineyards, seen from the 735 bus

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