The view over Wiesbaden from the lookout at Neroberg

Hopped on the train at Strasbourg station and headed for the little city of Wiesbaden, near Frankfurt, Germany. The distance between Strasbourg and Wiesbaden isn’t far as the crow flies and they are both quite significant rail hubs for their respective countries, however it still took three trains and a few hours to get there because nothing is direct between them. The first train I took gave me a bit of a surprise because it was only one carriage, driver included. I was thinking it was some kind of shuttle train that was taking us to the real train, kinda like at the airport when you catch a bus out to the plane. But no…just one carriage the whole way. A cute French girl was sitting opposite me though so things weren’t so bad. Arrived at Wiesbaden HBF and walked to my hotel which was 500m down the street that was directly outside the station, an absolute perfect location, was able to walk everywhere, the wine festival being literally 100m away.

Why Wiesbaden? Is there anything there to see? Wouldn’t it be better to see Frankfurt? All questions I was asked several times by various different people while here, and all valid I guess. On last years euro trip I met the lovely Charly, in Amsterdam of all places, we stayed in contact and this is where she lives so I thought id say hi. Keeping in contact with people around the world that you meet is great and these days its so easy. I also tend to prefer smaller cities anyway, of course I still love the New Yorks and Paris’ of the world, but you get a much better feel for the culture of a country in smaller cities. Plus the wine festival was on so win win really.

Started things off with a quick tour around the city and then to the Rheingau Wine Festival. This thing is great. About 200 stalls of local wineries selling their different drops by the glass or bottle. The entire place is packed with people drinking up and having a good time. The whole thing is outdoors in the Marketplace as well. Imagine that in Australia…ten people would get glassed every night. So I drank some wine, nice wine too, and met a lot of really nice people. Surprisingly a lot of them having been to Australia for a few months up to a year, and of course have seen far more of the country than I have, but thats usually the case. Drank more wine, then some more, went to a bar once the festival was over for the night. Met some more cool people, talked to randoms. Stumbled back to the hotel, somehow figured out how to unlock the front door (the lock turns like 32 times), and then zzzzzzzzzzz. Woke up and BOOM hangover. Having not drank much alcohol in the last few months it leaves quite a kick the next day.

Got going at about midday and was driven over to Mainz to check it out. Was so tired and felt like death so probably didn’t appreciate the city as much as id have liked. From what I saw it was very nice though, just a bit smaller than Wiesbaden. Went back after an hour or so and I went back to sleep before taking a taxi to Charly’s place for her bday bbq. Australia being known for loving to have BBQs (me especially) i was interested as to what a bbq entailed in Germany. And well surprise they aren’t really that different, the guys even hang around and cook the food as well. Many many types of sausages, not all of which I can stomach, chicken and salads etc. The beer of choice is Becks. Time is passed chatting away, playing fussball and various different drinking games, most of which are all the same as back home. After a while it was then off back to the wine festival for some more wine and eventually the cure for all nights out, the 3am greasy pizza that tastes phenomenal at that time but don’t dare eat it during the day.

Next day is when the weather started to head south, cloudy skies and raining on and off. The annual Wiesbaden Ironman triathlon was starting at some ungodly hour of the morning so I went out to catch the end of it and see the average joes getting through the final run leg looking like they’re about to pass out. First time I had taken a photo with the SLR for three days, which is the longest time I haven’t for about 8 months now. Its good seeing things like the wine festival and ironman, but its also quite annoying because they are both held in the most photogenic areas of the city, infront of all the most important landmarks. Walked around the rest of the day, in and out of showers of rain. And the day after was basically the same, walking around, checking out shops, wishing I could buy things, taking a few photos here and there, tentatively tasting various local foods at the wine festival. I guess I really didn’t do much, but the trip has been pretty go go go so far so it was good to just relax a bit.

Then it was time to see the countryside. Charly owns two horses so I went with her out to where they live and roam free. Driving out of Wiesbaden and it only takes ten minutes before you come across what you could describe as ‘countryside’. There are quite big gaps between the suburbs with just paddocks between them. Walking to the horses and they start running at us, and I knew they would stop, but in the back of my mind was the headline ‘australian gets trampled by normally friendly horses in germany’. They stopped. Ive never been this close to horses before, being able to pet them etc, quite cool. Such beautiful big strong animals.

Last day in Wiesbaden and the heavens looked to start opening, a bit of blue sky poking through the clouds. So I walked to the Nerobergbahn, which takes you to the highest point in Wiesbaden with a lookout over the city. Now having been to Switzerland and been on some of the most impossibly engineered trains and funiculars that climb thousands of meters in elevation and go through mountains, this one looks to be quite laughable. Its only about 450m long and climbs a measly 80m in altitude. However what makes it stand out is that it is water ballasted. There are two carriages, one at each end, connected together with a cable. The carriage at the top gets pumped full of water, up to 7000 litres, depending on the amount of passengers. So the weight of that carriage is enough to pull the other one up at the same time, and then once at the bottom it is emptied and the water is pumped back up the hill and fills the other carriage to repeat the process. One of the only ones left in Europe of its type.

Walked to the lookout and took some pics, then went down to the Russian Orthodox Church. Absolutely stunning, I really wish you could take photos inside because it was quite different to others. I cant remember the exact story, but a dude married a Russian princess chick and when she was giving birth she died and so did the baby. And because they were Russian Orthodox but there were no Russian Orthodox churches in Wiesbaden he just made one so they could be rested inside. So inside there is two coffins for the woman and her baby, and there is also a Snow White-esque sarcogoph that is supposed to be modelled off the woman. Quite a big attraction for Russians I think because I picked up on quite a lot of people talking in what I assumed to be Russian.

While the sky was still behaving I quickly went around the city and got photos of various different buildings, such as the Kurhaus, the theatre, the hot spring water fountain thing, cathedral, etc. Then just went back to the hotel and got changed and headed out for my last nights dinner. Charly took me to a great pizza place, one of the better pizzas ive had so far on the trip, and it wasn’t cooked by Italians. Good food, good beer, and company for a change. All in all probably the best day of my stay in Wiesbaden, and one of the better days of the trip.

So yea, probably not a city that would usually be included in ones european itinerary, but very well worth it, especially when I have so much time. Also travelling alone for so long its good to jump at opportunities to meet up with friends and be sociable. Especially when they’re locals of the city and can speak english!

More photos coming soon.