This post is written by Katie, about her solo trip to Belgium, Germany, and Austria.
Today I explored around Karlsruhe. I awoke to my 9:15am alarm, and got ready for the day. No one else had showed up overnight, so it was just the four of us in the dorm.
I packed up my hiking backpack and decided to walk about 30 minutes to the rail station. The main reason I walked was because I did not want to buy a transit ticket for the day until I got some hiking recommendations from the tourist information office, but the secondary reason was because I was hungry and wanted to find a market.
I found the tourist information office across from the train station and inquired about hikes in the black forest. Although multiple people online had said the tourist information offices always had good hiking suggestions, this one just told me to pick a city and go ask their tourist information office. I had depended on their recommendations, so this left me a bit stranded.
I had a few back-up plans though, so I picked one that used the S1 and bought a Regio day pass for Euro 10.50. However, I quickly realized once on the train that we were going away from the black forest. The stop did not look too inviting and I had no real directions to the trail head so I took the next train back.
Then I took the S4 to Baden-Baden, which was supposed to have good hiking. There was a hiking map at the train station, but it was difficult to read or understand the scale (and hence how long anything would take). I wandered the town area around the train station for a bit before taking a train back to Rastatt to get a connection on the S32.
My notes said that my Regio pass was good to Forbach, and that the S32 line went deep into the black forest along a valley. With this, I took the 50 minute ride to Forbach.
The scenery got better and better the further we went, and it was neat to see normal, everyday life out the windows. Our train went through many tunnels as it approached Forbach. The track was single-track in many areas, so sometimes we would have to wait for a while at a station or random point for a train to pass in the other direction. I arrived at Forbach around 4pm and noted that the next train back to Karlsruhe was at 5:18pm (no others were listed on the electronic board, but there were almost certainly more).
There was a hiking map near the train station with all the surrounding trails, towns, and train stops. There seemed to be similar maps at nearby train stations on the S32 line as well. I did not have time or sunlight to do any of the full hikes, but I started on one and walked about 1.5km before turning around. This walk took me over an old-time wooden bridge and past men cutting trees for firewood. The town and hike had a nice authentic feel, and I would not mind going back to this region at some point and doing some nice hikes. Everything seemed to be well marked.
Since the trains were infrequent, I did not want to miss mine and hence turned back too soon. I spent my remaining time at the grocery store by the train station, where I bought a banana and instant soup for dinner.
Then I made the 70 minute journey on S32 back to the Karlsruhe train station. It was interesting throughout the day how many young children (5th grade and up?) were on the train alone or in groups.
Once back at the train station I opted to walk back to see a few more sites and continue to look for a market. I eventually found a big market after passing the hostel by a few blocks. I bought bread, butter, eggs, milk, and some pretzels. I planned to split this and the instant soup I bough earlier across dinner and breakfast.
When I arrived back at the hostel the kitchen – which is also the only sitting area – was extremely crowded. In fact, the entire hostel seemed much more crowded tonight. I gave up on the idea of cooking and instead just ate the pretzels. I needed to charge my laptop and work, so I found a wall outlet in the hall and sat on the floor and worked on planning out where to go next for a few hours. It was awkward, but it worked.
When I finished and returned to my room, there were three new people (the king and the guy from Ecuador were still there too). There was even a girl in the bunk over mine. I showered in the handicap bathroom which apparently also serves at the women’s shower, blow-dried my hair, and settled in for the night. Everyone else seems to be going to sleep too.