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Private Plane to Speyer, German 9 Euro Ticket Adventures, Scotland, Mallorca

Private Plane to Speyer, German 9 Euro Ticket Adventures, Scotland, Mallorca

Old Oct 5, 22, 4:52 am
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Private Plane to Speyer, German 9 Euro Ticket Adventures, Scotland, Mallorca

1. Introduction

The summer holiday got off to a lethargic start, with hot and dry weather and huge crowds drawn to the Montreux Jazz Festival. Travel all over Europe was an ongoing chaos with many airports and airlines in meltdown, unable to cope with the resurgence in demand, having fired most of their essential personnel. Images of passengers stuck in airports with impossibly long lines for check-in and security, missing their flights or having their flights cancelled altogether, with no end of the chaos in sight, made me resolutely stick to ground transportation during the summer. As I said before, it would have been better if all the airlines had been got rid of during Corona, all of them disappearing into insolvency, so we could start anew with something designed for the 21st century. Just to be free of this legacy mess, with procedures and protocols still lodged in the 1950s, would be a benefit to everyone and the world in general. It can't go on in its current state without something changing radically at some point. Of course this goes against our hobby of collecting points and miles but right now I am unable to think of a single airline that I could say I actually like.


Things were not quite as bad as they look in this almost apocalyptic photo from early September at the security line at Dusseldorf airport


This mid August pic looks equally as bad but, in fact, this was a fairly normal load of passengers at DUS in the summer months

In the newsfeeds on my phone I was regularly reading horror stories about the main London airports, cancelled flights, thousands of passengers camped out in the halls, endless delays, impossible queues for check-in and security. LHR and LGW were in the news every day, but not so much LCY. One appalling airport is MAN which surely must be one of the worst in Europe, if not the worst, and the photos and scenes portrayed were the stuff of nightmares. Others which fared badly were BHX and BRS. On continental Europe the worst offender appeared to be AMS, closely followed by DUS, FRA and HAM.


Constantly on the move at Geneva Cornavin main train station


While rehearsing the Haydn Harmoniemesse with a choir in Lausanne on 2nd July we had some excitement from the neighbouring apartment block during the lunch break

I really needed time off this summer and refused a number of small engagements.. Since early April I haven't been able to do any work on basic accounting and paperwork, such as my tax declaration, and no work on my musical compositions and arranging projects. It took me right up to the evening before I departed for Germany in early July to just get caught up with all unfinished tasks and paperwork, tying up all the little details that keep things orderly and ticking over. The super rich, and probably the normal rich too, hire people to do all of this for them, but I think it's a good idea to do it oneself and take total control over everything, for a while anyway. I am pleased that I completed it all before leaving for Germany. The secret with tax declarations and other similar bureaucracy (such as sending out bills to clients in a timely manner) is to keep doing it as you go along, don't let a backlog pile up like I did.


One of my summer hikes, here the relatively inaccessible Bisse de la Tsandra on the tiny road up to the Sanetsch pass in canton Valais


Despite the stony nature of the walk there was time to stop and admire the view along the way


Montreux Jazz Festival crowds along the lakeside where the food stalls were


That same evening from the same location, I could turn around and look out onto the lake, a scene of total peace

Last edited by Concerto; Oct 13, 22 at 2:59 am
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Old Oct 8, 22, 7:20 am
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2. List of Promotions and Special Offers

The world of special offers was a bit strange this summer. With the resurgence of travel demand and the total incapability of the airlines and airports to deal with it, the opposite happened. Airlines zeroed out all booking classes except for the most expensive ones in Economy and Business to discourage people from booking flights that might not take place. That made a flight to places like London as high as 1,500 in some cases, a wonderful return to 1960s prices with 2020s nonexistent service. Hotel prices similarly reached ridiculous levels, presumably due to a lack of capacity because many properties were shut down during Covid. But it felt very much like price gouging for the most part, which could conveniently be blamed on the dynamic pricing structures utilised by most hotels and hotel chains.

So, the incentive to travel had been seriously curtailed and it was more than apparent that it might be wiser to stay at home or invent some alternative diversions. But in the normal world, travel during the summer months had already become an increasingly laborious burden for business travellers before the pandemic. I recall some Flyertalkers writing in 2019 about how the airport experience was becoming really unsupportable when travelling in July and August, even when holding lots of airline status cards. It was becoming a pain that nobody wanted to endure, with holidaymakers, children and inexperienced travellers clogging up airport infrastructures. Travel was already a tiring undertaking, but was doubly or triply so with all these people milling around. Small wonder that private aviation has really taken off and, having discovered a number of private airfields myself, I can only say that the pleasure of travel and flying knows no limits.


Only 500 bonus miles for booking a hotel or car rental on the overpriced Hotels & Cars platform at Miles & More

Award tickets using miles or other currencies were very much available, however, in some cases as regular special offers. For once, Miles & More award tickets within Europe were looking like a really good deal, in both Economy and Business, given the high cash prices for tickets. 15,000 miles round trip in Economy to Edinburgh, or even 25,000 in Business, were suddenly looking like an extremely good deal. The booking period was until 31st July, with the travel period being 15th August to 30th September. There were many other destinations but this one was of interest to me so I could get back to Scotland and visit family.
Another very tempting one-off deal came from Flying Blue at Air France KLM, whereby Hanoi was offered for 15,000 per direction in Economy, or 55,000 in Business. It appeared that the routing was via Paris CDG on Vietnam Airlines. Usually mileage fares to Asia are very high, given that Flying Blue now uses a dynamic pricing system which is related to the actual cash cost of the flights. I would be willing to bet that Vietnam Airlines offers good service in Economy class, unlike the European airlines these days. (Later on, this offer appeared to be rescinded with people getting their tickets cancelled).


Again, just 500 miles for buying something from Design Bestseller. This outfit appeared to offer design stuff for ridiculously high prices (I mean, who needs a 17,000 sofa??), but there were some decent items available at a lower cost base

On the ground, the 9 Euro ticket offered by Deutsche Bahn (German Rail) was an amazing offer, the ticket giving you the freedom of Germany for one calendar month as long as you used the regional trains and didn't board any intercity trains. It was also good for all city buses, trams and S-Bahn trains. I used it in early July to find my way from Basel to Ingelheim near Mainz, where I visited a winery for a wine tasting. I also used it to dot around Germany here and there and then used it for two further trips to Switzerland. It was a bit of an endurance because the trains were so jammed with people.
In Switzerland the SBB were offering Supersaver tickets for really cheap prices if you booked in advance. As I had cancelled my GA, a pass for unlimited travel in Switzerland, and bought a half fare card, I made good use of these offers. These offers are ongoing and available on most trains, including intercity trains, buses and now even regional transport associations.


The 9 Euro Ticket lasted from the beginning of June to the end of September, which made it a total of 27. I made huge use of it and calculated the total value to be 669.45

Hotel prices were generally really high and I had originally wanted to book the Hilton in Mainz, the one overlooking the Rhine river, but the price was too high. In the end I booked the Best Western in Mainz on hotels.com, making use of an offer for an extra stamp for booking during a 2 days window (collecting 10 stamps gives you a free night to the value of 10% of the value of all 10 nights).
It was a shame about Hilton, because they were offering double points on all stays throughout the summer. I am becoming a very infrequent guest at Hilton so I'm not getting much use of the complimentary gold status that comes with my Hilton branded credit card (which appears to never work properly).
IHG had a similar extra points offer whereby you got no bonus for your first stay, double points from your second stay and triple points starting from a later stay.
The other hotel offers did not apply to me because I am not a member of their programmes. If I want to book other chains, I do it through hotels.com and pick up a stamp for a night's credit.
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Last edited by Concerto; Oct 8, 22 at 7:50 am
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Old Oct 13, 22, 2:39 am
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3. Montreux Jazz Festival and Fte de la Cit, Lausanne

Often in the past the Montreux Jazz Festival has landed on a period of cooler rainy weather, which has dampened the spirit of the festival. This year hot sunny weather prevailed, which only served to intensify the drought all of Switzerland is experiencing. In northern Italy the drought is so bad that the river Po has practically dried up, placing all of the agriculture in the Po river plain in great peril. The warm weather brought the crowds to Montreux, which made me a bit nervous given the sudden rising Corona figures in Switzerland.


Montreux Jazz Festival madness

I didn't book tickets for any specific concerts but, having started with a beer or two at Angel's Bar in front of the station, I made my way through the various platforms along the lakeside where there were a number of free events. Some of these free concerts can be really good and are worth making the effort to hear. There I met up with a bunch of friends and we wandered around. Most platforms were built out over the lake and were sponsored by companies such as ibis and Accor hotels, as well as the airline SWISS, which was selling food and drink from its BoB menu at the bar. Alongside the lake were also a series of tent kiosks, offering hot food from all over the world at reasonable prices for Switzerland, CHF15-25 (I had an Indian beef curry which was pretty good).


Accor hotels is clearly a sponsor of the festival, with a stand dedicated to its ibis brand


On a stand looking out towards the lake and sunset


SWISS International Air Lines had its own stand, at which items from its onboard BoB menu were for sale

Among the more interesting artists playing at the main festival were Nick Cave, John McLaughlin and John Legend. One night Legend booked every table at the excellent pizzeria La Fontaine, beside the spring where I collect water. I had planned to eat there with a friend and we arrived at La Fontaine at 19h10, just after John Legend had cancelled his block booking of the restaurant five minutes before. So we had the restaurant to ourselves, with an owner happy to serve us. Apparently John Legend had ordered 15 pizzas down to the Palace Hotel, but I was unable to establish if he ate them all himself or shared them with other people.


Scene of total peace on the lake despite the noise onshore

Concurrently, the Fte de la Cit was underway in Lausanne, a bit similar to the Montreux Jazz with platforms everywhere offering everything from normal music to theater sketches. Much of the so-called "music" was completely unlistenable to though, with a huge thumping bass drowning out all other sounds there might have been and totally eliminating any chance of conversation with anybody. With friend Arthur, we hung out at a pop-up bar just off the stairway leading up to the cathedral, enjoying beer from La Nbuleuse brewery along with toothpaste coloured shots (which were probably not a good idea). The esplanade in front of the cathedral hosted lots of food stalls, similar to those in Montreux, and I had a plate of Asian noodles. Arthur wisely stayed away from all the food offerings, like he did the other day at the Montreux Jazz. The crowds at La Fte de la Cit were nicer and less coarse than they were at Montreux, probably because it was composed of mainly local people. It was also quite easy to meet people I knew who happened to be there.


Fte de la Cit at Lausanne




Lausanne cathedral bathed in red
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Last edited by Concerto; Oct 13, 22 at 3:11 am
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Old Oct 16, 22, 10:30 am
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4. Bisse de Tsandra

In canton Valais the climate is very dry although there are several climatic zones from the floor of the Rhne valley all the way up to the glaciers high above. The practice of diverting water from glacial runoff into little canals that run along the side of the mountains goes right back to the 1200s and even earlier. The valuable water was strictly rationed between users in times gone by and to this day many of the canals (bisses in French, Suonen in German) still irrigate the cultivated lower slopes of the mountains. Most of the surviving bisses are wonderful walking routes and I have been working my way through the hikes in the book Bisses de Lgende. I am now trying to tick the really inaccessible hikes off the list, those that can be achieved only during the summer months because of their altitude.
​​

Near the beginning of the walk alongside the Bisse de Tsandra


There was just one precipitous section near the start of the walk with a large drop on the left and a rope to hang onto on the right
​​​​​​

Looking back along the same precipitous section

The Bisse de Tsandra walk begins at Grand Zour on the difficult road up to the Sanetsch pass. Last time I attempted to do this Bisse there was only one postbus (which starts in Sion) going up there a month! At the time I did it this time, June 2022, there appeared to be two postbuses a week, quite early on Saturday and Sunday mornings making it a very early start indeed in Montreux. It was worth the effort because the walk was amazing, as you can see in the various pics. There were only two short stretches where the path went along a cliff face, necessitating the use of a helmet. Otherwise, there were no truly scary stretches with steep drops (except for a couple of plank sections near the start).


Some amazing views along the way


Most of the bisse walk was quite gentle and on the same level, but there was a horrendous descent into Ayen at the end. Even with walking sticks that drop was tough going


Another somewhat precipitous section where I wore my helmet




Further down the trail the mountain views became more bucolic

I thought I could read the Switzerland Mobility app, which shows all the walking trails, offline but this turned out to be not the case because it went funny on me pretty quickly. So I made a mental note to always take screenshots of the map on the app when doing my route preparation. Further down on the trail, where the Bisse de Tsandra was mostly buried in water pipes in the 1960s and 70s, I actually met the previous secretary of the Conservatoire de Sion, now retired and out walking her dog. The end of the walk, as so often with the Bisse hikes, had a very steep and seemingly endless descent into the village of Aven, where I got the postbus back to Sion, then the train back to Montreux.


View over Lac Lman when I reached Montreux

Last edited by Concerto; Oct 16, 22 at 10:52 am
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Old Oct 17, 22, 5:30 am
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Ah, splendid. Not sure how I missed this earlier, but made for a nice bit of reading this lunchtime.


Originally Posted by Concerto View Post
Hotel prices were generally really high and I had originally wanted to book the Hilton in Mainz, the one overlooking the Rhine river, but the price was too high. In the end I booked the Best Western in Mainz on hotels.com, making use of an offer for an extra stamp for booking during a 2 days window (collecting 10 stamps gives you a free night to the value of 10% of the value of all 10 nights).
It was a shame about Hilton, because they were offering double points on all stays throughout the summer. I am becoming a very infrequent guest at Hilton so I'm not getting much use of the complimentary gold status that comes with my Hilton branded credit card (which appears to never work properly).
IHG had a similar extra points offer whereby you got no bonus for your first stay, double points from your second stay and triple points starting from a later stay.
The other hotel offers did not apply to me because I am not a member of their programmes. If I want to book other chains, I do it through hotels.com and pick up a stamp for a night's credit.
I'm particular to the Hyatt in Mainz. Also not a cheap hotel, though it seems you can squeeze under 200EUR per night with breakfast most days until end of the year. Not great, but not terrible for the hotel - I've seen much more. Maybe it's just the season has ended? Hilton has fairly reasonable rates as well, as low as 110 as I see in near future.

Originally Posted by Concerto View Post
I didn't book tickets for any specific concerts but, having started with a beer or two at Angel's Bar in front of the station, I made my way through the various platforms along the lakeside where there were a number of free events. Some of these free concerts can be really good and are worth making the effort to hear. There I met up with a bunch of friends and we wandered around. Most platforms were built out over the lake and were sponsored by companies such as ibis and Accor hotels, as well as the airline SWISS, which was selling food and drink from its BoB menu at the bar. Alongside the lake were also a series of tent kiosks, offering hot food from all over the world at reasonable prices for Switzerland, CHF15-25 (I had an Indian beef curry which was pretty good).
Ugh. Last thing I would want to do at a festival is buy airplane food....

Originally Posted by Concerto View Post
In canton Valais the climate is very dry although there are several climatic zones from the floor of the Rhne valley all the way up to the glaciers high above. The practice of diverting water from glacial runoff into little canals that run along the side of the mountains goes right back to the 1200s and even earlier. The valuable water was strictly rationed between users in times gone by and to this day many of the canals (bisses in French, Suonen in German) still irrigate the cultivated lower slopes of the mountains. Most of the surviving bisses are wonderful walking routes and I have been working my way through the hikes in the book Bisses de Lgende. I am now trying to tick the really inaccessible hikes off the list, those that can be achieved only during the summer months because of their altitude.
​​
Looks very nice, reminds me of the levadas in Madeira, although I expect with a lot more elevation change.
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Old Oct 17, 22, 1:08 pm
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Cant wait to see the private plane!
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Old Oct 17, 22, 3:57 pm
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Originally Posted by Fabo.sk View Post
Ah, splendid. Not sure how I missed this earlier, but made for a nice bit of reading this lunchtime.

I'm particular to the Hyatt in Mainz. Also not a cheap hotel, though it seems you can squeeze under 200EUR per night with breakfast most days until end of the year. Not great, but not terrible for the hotel - I've seen much more. Maybe it's just the season has ended? Hilton has fairly reasonable rates as well, as low as 110 as I see in near future.

Ugh. Last thing I would want to do at a festival is buy airplane food....

Looks very nice, reminds me of the levadas in Madeira, although I expect with a lot more elevation change.
Thanks for your input, Fabo.sk. I think part of the problem with Mainz is that I left it just a bit too late to book. I can recommend the Best Western which is up a hill on the other side of the station, easy even if you're just a modest walker (free parking). They were very friendly, especially with picking up forgotten items later on. We drank far too much local wine and Obstler (Schnapps) so we crawled back to the hotel on 4 legs that night! Later, in his separate room, Simon almost bit his tongue off during a nightmare, making a hell of a mess!

I think I only bought a glass of wine at the SWISS stand at the Montreux Jazz Festival. Of all the wine types they could have chosen for their onboard BoB menu it is Aigle Les Murailles that features. Now I am quite partial to Swiss wine and the Chasselas grape, but this is just disgusting, pure acid. I once bought it during a promotion at the Coop and I couldn't finish the bottle. It's sort of ok for cooking...in small quantities. It's rare you get something as bad as this in Vaud or Valais.

Yes, canton Valais is surprisingly arid and not a huge amount of rain falls at lower altitudes. With accelerating glacier melt there's going to be real problems in the Alps going forward.

Originally Posted by GodAtum View Post
Cant wait to see the private plane!
The flights up the Rhine Gorge from Mnchengladbach to Speyer/Ludwigshafen and back were truly outstanding. It's the true highlight of this whole trip report (and it's coming up fairly soon). I may have to create more posts because there are so many nice pics, but at the same time I don't want to put too many pics up here.
Right now, I have another interesting flight planned thanks to the beautiful October weather. Destination not decided yet but this will be the highlight of my Autumn Trip Report later on.

Just a quick reminder to those of you who bought Wingly flight sharing vouchers during last year's Black Friday (there were some amazing reductions), don't forget to either use them or extend them. The private flights that I am doing are actually not organised with Wingly but personally with the pilot, whom I met through Wingly and another friend comes along with us to help keep costs down.

Last edited by Concerto; Oct 17, 22 at 4:07 pm
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Old Oct 22, 22, 4:55 am
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5. Ingelheim and Weingut Dautermann

I have been rolling in and out of Ingelheim twice a year for the past 5 years, mainly to visit the Weingut (winery) Dautermann which is one of the finest wineries in the Rhinehessen region. As it is the halfway point between Switzerland and the Ruhrgebiet region, I also use it to meet friend Simon as well as other friends. We typically do a wine tasting then fill Simon's car with cartons full of bottles to take back to other friends in Oberhausen. Then we head into the city of Mainz where we get legless and end up dancing on the tables...or under the tables, as may be.


Main building of the Dautermann winery


Weingut Dautermann, as it is known in German

To get to Mainz I left Territet on a pre-booked Supersaver train ticket to Basel at 06h53 for CHF26.60 in 2nd class. From there, I planned to use the German 9 Euro Ticket and take a series of regional trains leaving Basel Bad Bahnhof at 10h28 and getting to Ingelheim at 16h09. It was Saturday and I was expecting a nightmare trip, but on the contrary it was very pleasant. Certainly, the trains were very busy but I always managed to find a seat, although people were standing during the last stretch into Mainz. There were changes of train in Offenburg, Karlsruhe and Mainz itself, and during my 50 minutes layover in Offenburg I ate my home made picnic and had a coffee in front of the station. All trains were perfectly on time and I made the connections with time to spare.

Weingut Dautermann usually closes at 15h00 on a Saturday, but calling the owner I managed to persuade them to stay open a bit longer. We are good customers and always buy several hundred Euros worth of bottles of wine and they know us by now. My two pals were already there to taste some wines and decide what they wanted to purchase. They swung down to the station to pick me up so I could taste some wines too and purchase some cartons of wine, before heading to Mainz just after 17h00. The Dautermann winery has been around for over 100 years, apparently. In their own words: "Through selective hand harvesting, we obtain red wines full of character and fine fruity white wines". They further say that "...80% of the quality is given to us by nature. For the remaining 20% we work in the vineyards intensely". I love Dautermann's fruity white wines, especially the Blanc de Blanc, Weisser Burgunder and Gewrztraminer varieties. But tasting is necessary because they subtly change each year. For example, Gewrztraminer from 2021 is completely sold out.


Entry to the tasting room at Dautermann


Selection of Dautermann wines with their unique label design

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Old Oct 23, 22, 7:04 am
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6. Under the tables in Mainz again

Dautermann actually provides really nice accommodation at a price way below what you would pay in the city, rooms full of space resembling junior or mid sized suites. But... I have never wanted to stay there because I think that you could die of boredom in Ingelheim! With Simon and others we have always elected to stay in Mainz, including one famous time during the carnival when we got completely roasted. I recall somehow making it to the Gutenberg Museum the next day and getting close to vomiting while looking at the famous bibles. Not my finest moment. Luckily it didn't happen and fortunately the relics are protected in showcases anyway.


Timber framed houses in central Mainz


Some of the buildings have details worth inspecting



This visit turned out to be no different, although I wonder about the wisdom of confessing all of this here. We were confounded right at the beginning because none of the places we had hoped to eat at had any space available. Simon has set his heart on a big steak in the excellent El Chico Steakhouse but we were doomed to disappointment. If you turn up in Mainz on a Saturday, think about making reservations well in advance. All our previous visits had been midweek so we hadn't encountered this problem before. It was easily solved by heading to the Eisgrb brewery, a brewpub with good food and endless space to accommodate the crowds in the catacomb-like underground halls. The schnitzels and meat dishes are great and you won't leave feeling hungry. We tried all the beers, but things started going south when Simon began ordering rounds of schnapps. Of course, I enjoy all of this and only worry about the consequences afterwards, when it's too late.


Basement of the Eisgrb Brauhaus, which runs under the street


Things are getting a bit blurry now, with the schnapps


Weingut Dautermann also makes lots of gin and schnapps!

Later we went on the town, visiting a number of bars and so-called Weingut establishments. There is a huge choice, but I was disappointed by Weingut Hottum with their awful, acid like wines at a price that the Swiss would be proud of. They also refused credit cards for purchases under 50, something that truly annoys me and seems to be a curse that is unique to Germany in Europe. So that one is on my boycott list in the future.


Weingut Hottum in Mainz, which did not leave a good impression this time
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Old Oct 24, 22, 4:36 am
  #10  
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7. Review: Best Western Mainz

The Best Western Hotel Mainz is located slightly outside the old city center in a quiet residential area. It was about 25 minutes to walk into the center of Mainz. The modern building was pleasantly appointed with a spacious reception area and a large restaurant which doubled as the breakfast room. I always find Best Western hotels welcoming and slightly old fashioned, but not in a bad way. Most of the BWs I have stayed at have been family hotels run as franchises for the Best Western brand and they have always been impeccably clean, here in Germany anyway.


Best Western Mainz has comfortably fitted and very clean rooms


Decent quality anti allergenic bed clothes too


The bathroom was a definite step up in quality from Holiday Inn Express and Holiday Inn itself


Breakfast room at the Best Western

In the end we didn't exactly spend much time at the hotel or in the rooms, except to sleep. But the rooms were as nice as they could be for a hotel at this level, although they were somewhat bland. The beds were very comfortable and appeared to be new, so it seems that this hotel used the Corona downtime to refresh it's hard product and make some renovations. There was enough space for seating in the room and there was a desk, increasingly a rarity in hotels these days. The washroom and bath was wonderful, full of space with new fittings. The sink was designed so that water didn't splash out everywhere and there was loads of room for washbags, toothbrushes, etc. So much so that I managed to completely forget my washbag when I left the hotel the next morning. The only negative aspect was that the breakfast was rather pricy at 15 per person, which I declined to pay. Instead, we lumbered downtown, which the boys initially weren't too happy about, and had breakfast in one of bakery cafe places there (Werner's, if I remember correctly). The good thing was that the parking was free, unlike the 21 that the Hilton on the Rhine bank collected.


Couldn't resist posting this one from the street outside the hotel​​​​​​


The wolf of Mainz, found dead on the city Autobahn and taken to be stuffed and exhibited in the Natural History Museum


Natural History Museum in Mainz, in a converted church
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Old Oct 26, 22, 12:30 pm
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8. Hiking Trip 1: Heinsberg-Randarath station to Geilenkirchen

I selected this walk because of its unchallenging duration of 2 hours, between two provincial train stations in the flatlands just north of Aachen. On the map of Germany it looks like a wasteland of boredom, a sort of no man's land between the low countries and the main rump of Germany where nothing happens and there's nothing to see. Nothing could be further from the truth, because the countryside is full of nice scenery, charming villages, along with a selection of somewhat anonymous larger towns (think Rheydt, Viersen) that have more to offer than appearances would suggest.


At the very beginning of the walk in Randarath


This stretch near the start of the walk was the only fast flowing part of the small river


Family of ducks on the riverside

In the German language Rother hiking book for the Niederrhein region, which is the name of this vast region straddling the lower Rhine river and the Dutch border, there are 50 tours. The geographically most remote walk, in relation to the Ruhr area, is today's one (number 48), which is quite a lengthy drive along very busy Autobahn highways past the cities of Duisburg, Mnchengladbach and Krefeld. But I decided to make use of my 9 Euro ticket and the regional train network, 2 hours travel time in each direction, which would have cost EUR37.20 without this offer. Trains were a bit crowded, but they were totally punctual and there was always a seat available.


Turtle swimming in a more calm part of the river


There were a number of stables around


This almost resembles a pastoral scene in England


I had a picnic lunch beside this field

The walk itself was lovely and followed the Wurm river all the way from Randerath to Geilenkirchen. Coming out of the tiny station of Heinsberg-Randarath (which is on a single track branch line extending from Lindern to Heinsberg itself) you turn right as the book suggests. Keep on the right hand sidewalk rather than on the left side, and turn left immediately after crossing the Wurm river. There are no navigational difficulties on this route, you simply follow the river all the way to Geilenkirchen, using the X symbol as your guideline. The route crosses back and forth over the river, and this mostly is clearly shown on the map in the book. There was a stretch between Mllendorf and Sggenrath where the X route passes to the other side of the river, only to cross back over some 400 meters later. Our route stays on the surfaced cycle route on the right bank, presumably because the views are better.


This is the name of a village that I passed, with a sign below left announcing an outdoor leisure center


Horse and pony riding is offered in the leisure center


The walk continues upstream along the river (looking downstream here)

At first glance, the river, little more than a fairly fast stream (despite the apparent flatness of the countryside), looked not so clean. But a closer inspection revealed hundreds of fish of all sizes, huge turtles and at one point a family of ducks who were alarmed at my presence. For much of the way the river could not be seen due to a tangle of nettles and high growing foliage along the banks. But it could be viewed from the many foot bridges. There is one unsurfaced section, about 300m long, where you are free from the cyclists (but there were not so many and all exchanges were really friendly). You arrive suddenly in the center of Geilenkirchen, following a final green tunnel under the trees beside the river. I had a quick look around, noted that it hosted a piano festival and visited a caf for an excellent coffee and slice of apple pie.


There was one short unsurfaced part of the route


I believe these horses are not used for riding activities


The way went through a sort of green tunnel just as we entered the town of Geilenkirchen

The Bahnhof (station) of Geilenkirchen resembles one of those renovated country stations on the east coast of the USA, a stately building made out of white painted clapboard. Except the clapboard turned out to be the work of stonemasons and the building was solidly made of stones. It was back to the madness of 9 Euro ticket cheapskates with jammed trains, standing room only, a scrap (bit of a fight) on the platform of Mnchengladbach station because somebody didn't want to be told to wear his mask, and someone sticking his foot through one of the train doors stopping it closing.

Rother Wanderfhrer - Niederrhein, Tour 48


Arriving at Geilenkirchen - there is very little distance between the previous green tunnel and here, just 150m at the most


This piano invited playing, but it was horribly out of tune, probably because of the harsh sunlight beating down; Geilenkirchen hosts a respectable piano festival


The railway station looks like it was lifted out of New England in the USA


The railway underpass highlights the church of Geilenkirchen which I did not manage to visit
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Last edited by Concerto; Oct 26, 22 at 1:07 pm
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Old Oct 27, 22, 12:58 pm
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9a. Hiking Trip 2: Velbert-Neviges - Velbert-Langenberg

It's often tricky to determine the state of the trail or the number of ups and downs there are on these hiking routes. For this very scenic trip I decided to wear shorts and lighter shoes. Big mistake in both cases. The way turned out to be much more challenging than I could have imagined.


The town of Neviges is amazingly attractive


The hiking trail quickly lead into open countryside


Just off the pathway beside a copse of wood was a lost Jewish cemetery

Following a quick walk around the charming town of Neviges with its timber framed houses, I began the trail which rose steeply to the north through the woods on the other side of the railway track. For once Uli Aufferman's map writing was accurate (as far as I could see, there were a lot of complaints about the Ruhrgebiet book in the red Rother walking series, because of the amateur mapmaking). What was missing was adequate signposting along the way, so it is essential to download the Open Street Map or the Deutsche Alpenverein (my favourite) apps and take screenshots of the maps of the day's hiking route. Once up on the plateau there came a point where the route turned hard left away from the track I was on, across a field towards a copse, following an indistinct path. Again, thanks to the route description and the map app I managed to catch that turn. The almost unused path skirted the edge of the woods and descended sharply at which point we came across an overgrown Jewish cemetery which dated back to the late 1700s.


The entry to the Jewish cemetery is marked by a gatepost, but there is no fence. Perhaps there was in the past.


The continuation of the trail was along a trading route which dates back over 1,000 years


Millrath chapel, a detour from the described route

Later, the route led through a tunnel of green, an ancient trading route used later for hauling coal from the endless closed up mine shafts. At one point the Rother book suggested a detour of 1km to see the interesting Millrather Kapelle, which I calculated would add 40 minutes to my trip. But the state of the trail was amazingly bad and presented a whole series of challenges I did not expect so far away from the Alps. Once back on the main route it was a fairly straightforward descent past riding stables, woods and fishponds into Langenberg, another jewel of an old town deserving a separate visit.


Back on the route as described there were some very pretty sections in the woods


Like Neviges, Langenberg is a pretty town that history has preserved


Very imposing church in Langenberg

This and the next hike was contained within one post, but I decided to separate them into different posts so as to make them into shorter posts.
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Old Oct 28, 22, 4:08 am
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9b. Hiking Trip 3: Muttental

T​​​​his was a circuit, unlike the other walks I have done this summer and I used the car to get here because of impossible train scheduling and cancellations due to staff sickness with Corona. It is near the town of Witten due south of Bochum. Muttental was amazingly pretty, despite the legacy of endless coal mines, the mine shafts visible as I walked past them, now closed up. I didn't read all the information tables, but some of the mine names were familiar, such as Zeche Nachtigall, Zeche Orion and others. If you didn't know about the presence of mining, you would see Muttental only as a beauty spot with a huge choice of hikes through the woods.


Beginning of the hike, as it descends into Muttental


One of a number of timber framed cottages to be found in Muttental


One of many entries to the mine shafts, now closed up


The appearance of Muttental is bucolic with little evidence of the numerous mine shafts.


A former mineworker's house has been transformed into an exhibition

The route went past Schloss Steinhausen, which housed an art exhibition of sculpture from Zimbabwe when I visited. The route of the walk also swung down to the shore of the Ruhr River and went past the terminus of a ferry (Fhre) which transports pedestrians and cyclists across the river. A large sign said to that there was no fixed price, so to pay for the crossing you just give whatever you think the crossing is worth to you! The last point of interest was Burgruine Haldenstein, quite a beauty spot and worth spending some time to explore.


The Steinhausen castle is used for receptions and events, also hosting art exhibitions


At the time of my visit there was an exhibition of sculpture from a Zimbabwean artist


A little bit further on the walk ran alongside the Ruhr river, passing a jetty with a small ferry


A notice explains how you can pay what you think the ferry crossing is worth!

Uli Aufferman's handwritten map writing was, once again, not exactly a paragon of exactitude, but if you match up his map to Open Street Map or Deutsche Alpenverein you can see the route fairly clearly. There were only two small navigational details, starting right at the beginning where the text says to follow the circle symbols on the trees. Don't do this, because the circle symbol alignments have been completely changed, so at the first crossroads in the woods continue straight on, which actually entails a slight turn to the left, don't turn hard left as the text indicates. And later on, when following the M3 route between the riverside section and the Burgruine Haldenstein, when the M3 path signs follow the road and cross the disused railway tracks, we stay on the unsurfaced cycle way keeping the railway tracks on the left. This part of the route is dead straight but very attractive.


Approaching Burgruine Haldenstein


This ruined fort was the highlight of the walk


View of the Ruhr river from the fort, with a disused railway in the foreground

Last edited by Concerto; Oct 28, 22 at 4:35 am
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Old Oct 29, 22, 3:50 am
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I think the ruin is Hardenstein and not Haldenstein.
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Old Oct 29, 22, 5:42 am
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You are totally right, I wrote the article by memory and neglected to look again at the Rother book. If you are in the cities of the Ruhrgebiet and North Rhine Westfalia, you can really get away from the urban landscape by coming to places like this. I would also include Kettwig (near Essen) and Hattingen (near Bochum) as wonderful time capsules of beauty, away from the urban buzz of the cities of Essen and Bochum themselves.

Earlier, I replied to one poster that the private plane reviews would be coming up soon, but in fact they will begin at chapter 16...which is not so far away now!
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