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24 Days, 6 Countries, 2 Teenagers Part 4- Bacharach, Germany

Oh, boy! This is where things got interesting, and I had to let go of my uber-planning and let things unfold as we went along!

For the leg from Paris to Bacharach, we chose train travel. I reserved our tickets on the D-Bahn website a couple of months in advance and was able to get 1st Class tickets for only about $10 per person more than 2nd Class! Everything started out uneventfully - we were to depart around noon from Gare de l'Este, so we got there about an hour early, picked up sandwiches in the train station to eat on the train, and hopped on as soon as the train arrived. We reserved four seats around a table, and it was nice to be able to spread out in our own little area! We took the ICE train from Paris to Mannheim, where we switched to a smaller train from there to Bingen. Both legs of the trip were relaxing and uneventful.

We arrived in Bingen around 5:45pm, purchased tickets for the short 10-minute trip to Bacharach, and arrived at the platform just a few minutes before the 6pm train was to arrive. We waited...and waited...and waited. No 6pm train! Thinking that perhaps the train arrived (and then left) a few minutes early, we figured we would just grab the next train due in 30 minutes. My husband ran down to try to find a restroom while we waited, but the station was closed and unmanned at that time of day. He came back up to the platform and said that a taxi driver approached him, said the trains weren't running, and he could drive us to Bacharach for 90 euro. I immediately thought it was some sort of scam, because I knew that German taxis were metered and the distance from Bingen to Bacharach was only around 20 miles. Well, 6:30 came and went, and no train arrived. As we were discussing what to do next, a train pulled up on the track next to ours, and only a conductor and a security guard got off. We asked them when the next train was due, and the response was, "No train! Take bus!" Confused, we headed out of the station to the bus stop, where a crowd had started to gather. As we waited for a bus, I watched all of the various tracks and didn't see trains traveling on any of them. When a bus arrived, we asked if it went to Bacharach or if a bus heading to Bacharach would arrive soon, and the response was, "No bus to Bacharach!" We realized that people were getting off the bus, but the driver wasn't allowing any new passengers on. Now we were really confused. There was a nice young man who spoke both German and English, and he translated back and forth between the crowd and the security guard.

It turned out that the Rhine had flooded over both the tracks and the roads close to the bank. The water softened the dirt of the surrounding hills, and in at least two different areas along the Rhine, there were landslides that blocked both roads and train tracks. So, no train, no bus! The d-bahn sent a free charter bus to the station to pick all of the stranded travelers up and take them north to Koblenz. From there, we were told, we could pick up either trains or buses to bring us back south to our various destinations. We piled onto an extremely crammed bus and traveled the 40ish minutes to Koblenz. By the time we arrived, it was almost 9pm. I was getting nervous because I had told our guesthouse host that we would arrive around 7pm, and I had no way to reach him and let him know our plans had changed, since we hadn't picked up a new SIM card for the phone yet. We got to Koblenz and were informed that neither trains nor buses were running as far south as Bacharach, and wouldn't be until at least the next morning. So, our choices were to either try to find a taxi to take us or try to get a hotel room for the night. We went to the taxi area outside the train station and were told it would take between 100 and 120 euro, depending on which roads were closed, to get us to Bacharach. A hotel would have cost at least that, plus we would have lost the $ we already paid for our guesthouse, so we chose to take the taxi.

Posted by
36 posts

Continued....

So, four hours after we arrived in Bingen and 110 euro later, we were finally in Bacharach! Our guesthouse host also owned a restaurant in the city center, and we were supposed to go there to check in and pick up the keys. Unfortunately, it (and every other shop and restaurant in the area) was already closed for the night! We had the address and directions to the guesthouse, which was just up the road, so we figured we'd just walk up there. We arrived, knocked on the door several times, but no one answered. There were some elderly German men sitting across the street and enjoying a beer, and one of them offered to call the phone number for us. It rang and rang, but no answer. Argh! My husband decided to walk back down to the restaurant and see if he could get someone to answer the door, while the kids and I waited at the guesthouse. The German gentlemen came across the street and started poking around the guesthouse and knocking on the door for us. Finally, one of them found the host's private entrance to his own apartment, and he came out to let us in. It was now 10:30, and we were exhausted and hungry. I walked back into town, found my husband, and told him we were able to get in. He set out to find a convenience store or something to grab us some food, and I headed back up to the guesthouse. He came back with absolutely delicious Greek food from Restaurant Zeus, the only thing that was still open at that time of night. We collapsed into bed and tried to get some rest after an extremely eventful day!

FYI - many of the shops and restaurants in small Rhine villages like Bacharach close down around 8pm, so plan accordingly!

The rest of our time on the Rhine was lovely, and I hated to leave! I'll write more about that after my daughter's orthodontist appointment.......

Posted by
1555 posts

Exciting report. You handled a difficult situation very well. Going with the flow was the best decision. This will always be a funny story your family will enjoy reliving in the telling of the story!

This reminds me of a trip I made once to Bath from London with a friend. Similar circumstances, we got on a commuter train, that was our first mistake. But the train could not take the usual route through all the local towns and villages because of a problem with the track and so when we arrived in Bath, the train company had to hire all the taxis in town to take the commuters to their small villages and towns. That meant there was no taxi for us at that time. Our B&B hosts were expecting us at 6:30 and it was after 8 pm. Someone kindly used their cell phone to call our hosts to inform them we would be late. Being very hungry, we ended up having a wonderful dinner in a hotel and after that we were able to get a taxi to take us to the B&B at 10 pm or so. An adventure that we always laugh and laugh about.

Judy B

Posted by
12091 posts

Hi,

Good report. Towards the end of June, 26 or 27th I was going to do a day trip from Frankfurt to Koblenz to see the war museum and Deutsches Eck but saw that some trains had been cancelled (Zug fällt aus) or delayed, etc. due to flooding, weather conditions, ie going there meant you could be negatively impacted. So, that option was out. I went to Wiesbaden instead, which was covered in the hotel combi ticket. Not so with Koblenz.

Posted by
6543 posts

My favorite thing to do in Koblenz is to go to the Konisbacher Brewery beer gardens overlooking the Rhine River. I cannot think of a better way to spend a beautiful Summer day than sitting under those red and white striped canopies and watching the tour boats going up and down the river. And the beer is nectar to the gods.

Posted by
406 posts

Wow great report. You handled that day much better than I think I would have. We once were late to a small hotel stateside I panicked thinking we would have to sleep in the car everyone was gone. Then saw they taped the key to the building door in an envelope with my name on it.

Have loved your reports. Thanks for posting