Frieda walks us to the streetcar stop. Mom is now towing a huge roller suitcase that Frieda lets her use (and take back to Hannelore), and Kaitlyn is towing two roller suitcases. Our idea of mailing everything back home isn’t working too well.
We make our 09:00 departure from Frankfurt Hbf (Haupt Bahnhof) to catch the S-Bahn to Mainz and then a regional train to Bingen. Luckily a lady is attending the information booth at the train station, and she directs us and a huge group of Chinese tourists to the tour boat docks, which are about a half mile away, down and around the street and beyond the hotel on the bank of the Rhein. We find at least three tour boats docked. The ticket taker at the first dock directs us to the KD-line (Köln-Dusseldorfer) at the very end, which is the one we want (free for Eurailpass holders). We are literally the last people on the boat, which pulls away from the dock less than 10 seconds after we board.
As the last people on the boat, we find no free seats available on the sun deck. So, after we check our luggage, we take a seat by a window in the dining room below, have a nice lunch, and take as many pictures as we can given the somewhat limited view. But it is truly nice and relaxing.
The finale of our Rhein tour is supposed to be a visit to the Rheinfels castle at St. Goar where we disembark. I am hoping to be able to leave our luggage in a locker at the train station. But a thorough search of the unattended, one track train “cottage” yields zero luggage lockers. There’s no way we can drag the bags up the hill to the castle, so we decide to head on into Köln a few hours early. The train ride gives us a speedy view of the rest of the castles along the Rhein as we head up to Koblenz. Above the train station in Koblenz is a castle, a place mom remembers contained a hostel that she stayed in many times on her bicycle trips through Germany. From Koblenz Hbf, it’s off to Köln.
Des Heimat meiner Mutters: Köln
Luciano has arranged for a car to pick us up to avoid all the hassle. However, we are three hours early and we’ve done pretty well on public transportation so far. So, mom makes arrangements to cancel the car and find out about which Straßenbahn line to take to get to Onkel Heinz u. Tante Annemarie, while Kaitlyn and I get coffee at, you guessed it, Starbucks.
We have no problems arriving in Pulheim, where Onkel Heinz is waiting to greet us. We visit, tour the house, and enjoy some Italian take-out.
The layout of the house is neat. It’s narrow, but actually quite large becase it’s 4 floors. A space-saving spiral staircase connects the four floors, which each contain 3-4 rooms surrounding the staircase. We find out in a couple of days that Nathalie and Oliver have a house with a very similar layout.