This post is written by Katie, about her solo trip to Belgium, Germany, and Austria.
Today I woke up shortly before my 9:30am alarm. I got up to an empty room, got dressed, and went to eat the included breakfast at the hostel (which ran 7am-10am). Since I arrived in the breakfast room at 9:50am it is not surprising that some items were no longer available. I had some not-so-good scrambled eggs (they tasted powdered?), some toast with butter, cereal, and fruit juice. Then I packed up my backpacks and moved to the common area to figure out where to travel today!
I looked at a lot of Black Forest destinations (since it is not supposed to rain there the next couple days), but settled on Karlsruhe because its lodging looked the best for the price (in western Europe I am trying not to pay more than $30-35 per night for a dorm bed). I strongly considered Stuttgart, but the only good looking hostel in that price range did not have space on the second night and due to the rail pass I did not want to move after just one night. There were no reasonably priced female dorms really anywhere in the Black Forest area, so I’m trying my luck with a 6-bed mixed.
I left the Sleep Well Youth Hostel (Euro 23 for one night in a 6-bed female dorm on Booking.com) around 1pm. The Sleep Well Youth Hostel was pretty massive, and generally looked like a hotel. There were public computers, free good wifi, common areas, a big dining hall, foosball, a book exchange, and a clothing exchange. The dorms had hangers, cubbies, a small lockable box, and a small light by each bed for each person. There were outlets around the room, but it would have been nice if they were closer to each bed. I also wish the common areas had been a bit brighter, a bit more active/used, and had power available. It was great though – I’ll likely stay there again before I fly out of Brussels at the end of my trip.
It did not take long to reach Brussels Midi on the metro, so I reached the station with almost an hour until my 2:25pm ICE 17 train to Bonn. I went to the platform to watch other international trains come and go. The train arrived about 35 minutes before our departure, but we did not board until about 10 minutes before departure. I have a seat reservation once we enter Germany (although it never appeared on the screen over my seat), so I went ahead and took that seat.
My seat was between two windows (so no real view), and the guy in front of me lowered the shade, so it was not a very scenic two hour ride (for me at least) to Bonn. The train was rather full by the Liege stop, where a bigger woman who apparently ran for the train and was sweaty and out of breath took the seat next to me. However, I was happy to be on a train again, especially a nice, fast German ICE train. Maybe I will spend a few of my railpass days just riding…all I have to pay for is the Euro 4.80 reservation fee (which is mandatory since I got a 25% off railpass).
The train was running 10 minutes late when it reached Bonn. I had to go to the DB counter and validate my rail pass and buy seat reservations for the next leg. However, even though I have to have reservations on all ICE trains per my railpass, apparently ICE 201 does not take reservations (which would explain why I could not buy them online).
ICE 201 was running about 5 minutes late when it arrived. There were some empty seats, but not many. Once we picked up people from the Frankfurt airport, there were no spaces left.
Once we arrived I took the S1 to the Europlatz stop and walked to Gästehaus Kaiserpassage (Euro 41.80 for two nights in a 6-bed mixed dorm on Booking.com). I was really confused about how to enter, and wandered for about 30 minutes, but figured it out eventually. I checked in ‘afterhours’ since it was after 7pm when reception closes, but the woman working reception was still around.
I’m in room 9, bed 1 which means I have the bottom bunk near the door. There are two single beds and two bunk beds. One single bed is in a corner, and is clearly better than the rest. I internally call the guy in that bed king because he acts like he owns the dorm and we do not exist. I was down on the room when I first arrived, but maybe it will not be so bad besides the king. We will see!
I asked at reception for nearby grocery stores so I could self cater dinner. Since it was Sunday, none were open. Most of the restaurants were either expensive or closed, so I ended up walking to McDonalds for dinner.
After dinner I came back and worked on my laptop in the kitchen (which only seats 4) since there is seemingly no common area. Then I showered, which was awkward because the shower doors are barely clouded and the bathrooms are not separated by gender (neither the toilets nor the showers – note: I found out the next day that women are recommended to shower in the handicap restroom). Additionally, the shower stall doors do not lock.
Then I laid down to finish blogging and sleep at 11:35pm. Four of us are currently in the room, but the other two beds look used so I assume they will return eventually. Ear plugs in.