Station Hostel for Backpackers (Cologne, Germany)

We stayed here in September, found it to be a FANTASTIC hostel. The hostel provided free internet on computers out in the lobby/common room. Beds were all single beds, not bunk beds, a nice change of pace. Most of the rooms (during our stay we stayed in three different rooms) were nice and spacious, some had couches, tables, and so forth. Breakfast was available all day (not free, but reasonably priced). The rooms and all common areas felt clean, and appeared to be cleaned regularly.

However, the showers/toilets smelled a bit (we ended up using the bigger bathroom in the middle of the floor, a bit more privacy, and it didn’t smell). The hostel really is next to the train station, so there’s a fair bit of noise – if you are a light sleeper, bring earplugs. The luggage storage is down a flight, the rooms are up at least two flights, and the kitchen is up two flights, over a floor and down a different flight of stairs. You’ll get fit… Anyway, the high and the low of it is that we enjoyed this place. The single beds were great.

Karlsruhe Youth Hostel (Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany)

We rocked up in town at 10:30 pm to snatch the last two beds after a rotten time trying to find a hostel in the area. The hostel was clean and efficient. The showers worked ok, though they were not particularly “pretty” showers (they reminded me of a prison camp). But they worked, which is what counts. Everyone was already in bed by 11 p.m., and all up by about 6 or 7 am, which was a bit of a shock for us. Breakfast (included) was great, a big selection with cereals, yogurts, breads and cheeses. Overall, it’s a nice clean hostel, with a bit of a sterile feel to it. You must be a member of Hostelling International to stay at this hostel.

Seeing the forest from the trees

Europe ~ Germany ~ Cologne, Bonn & Freiburg

Germany is a really green country. I don’t know if that surprises you, but it sure surprised me. Of all the images I had concocted of Germany, green forests and luscious fields wasn’t one of them. We were happy with our flight over here from France – on Thai Airways when you finish a flight, they pin an orchid (their symbol) onto your shirt. German Wings gives you a bottle of neon orange Schwarzkopf hair dye. Woohoo!

We’ve been enjoying ourselves the German way, spending a lot of our time and precious money hanging around beer gardens. So many varieties of beer to sample – only so much time to do it in! My friend Andy took us out for a night on the town, German style. When he told us he was taking us to a ‘rock club’, I never expected that the German word for rock translates roughly into the Australian word for heavy metal!!! Inside we found guys with long hair head-banging along to Rammstein and the like. A completely different experience – very different from Brass Monkey back home!!! Typically, we ended up stranded before the night was out, but eventually caught the 4.30am train home…

Tash and I decided to take a weekend off – from world travel – to Black Forrest travel. We headed out towards the Black Forrest via the train system, leaving our big packs at the hostel in Cologne, along with our common sense and our Lonely Planet. After missing trains and getting off at the wrong stops, we ended up in a little town on the edge of the Black Forrest 8 hours later. We spent 2 and a half hours wandering around the tiny town of Baden-Baden, attempting to find a hostel. Eventually I gave up and wandered into a fancy hostel and asked if they knew of a hostel in the area. The guy behind the desk wrinkled his nose in disgust at my traveling cloths and informed me that there were no hostels, and furthermore (if we even had the money) every hotel in town was booked. There was some kind of festival for the rich and well-to-do folks on. Ahh, that would explain all the Mercedes and BMWs whizzing past us. We gave up and headed to a bigger town and fell into the last two beds available late at night. We spent the next day exploring Freiburg, a town in the middle of the Black Forrest. Didn’t find any trees, but did have some lovely Black Forrest Ice-cream. Still traveling first and foremost for food!

Tash and I, on our train trip

Tash and I, on our train trip

Cologne has been heaps of fun to explore, it has a HUGE Dom (cathedral) that overlooks you right as you come out of the station. It really looks like some-one has painted over the landscape and just plonked the Dom right there. Impossible to get a good photo – you just can’t fit the damn thing in one picture. We’ve also gone and explored the chocolate factory (YUM!!!) and the eau de Cologne store. Bonn (where Andy lives) is an interesting town too. It boasts that it is the birthplace of Beethoven, and has every single thought-of Beethoven attraction dotted about the town. Now we’re busy planning our next travels – watch out, people of Amsterdam!
xo me