On Tuesday, (sorry about delayed report), SAR and I set off for a train adventure. We firstly caught a regional train (see photos above), which took us through beautiful countryside for nearly 2 hours, arriving at Wernigerode at 10.42. One of the advantages of our Eurail pass is that we travel first class and on this train that meant a small section of 16 seats. (Almost to ourselves!)
We then walked a few steps over to the Harz railway station to buy our tickets for the next part of the adventure!
Just before departure time of 11.55 am, our engine came puffing into the station, attracting the usual array of photographers ! There’s something about a steam engine that makes you want to get the camera out!!
Then, “toot, toot!”, off we went! The size of the engine, along with the sound of the whistle was reminiscent of Puffing Billy, Victoria, but the scenery was not. For the next 38 minutes we were treated to lovely glimpses of Altstadt Wernigerode, beautiful forest, burbling brooks and even a tunnel! We started off sitting in the carriage but it wasn’t long before we rugged up and stood out on the platform! Much better! We got the full effect of smoke, puffing, scenery and atmosphere on our platform. We hoped we were allowed to be there as we weren’t completely sure what these signs meant!?
At Drei Annen Hohne, (540m) we swapped from that train to a new one that was waiting for us and off we set for the next part of our journey…..to Brocken. (1125m) We donned a few more items of clothing and ventured out on the platform again and what a treat! Snow covered pine trees, more babbling brooks and great sound effects as the engine worked hard (but efficiently) to take us up through the Harz mountains. Wow! Breathtaking! We got quite excited as the amount of snow increased as we chuffed up the mountain! The hour passed quickly!
We had just over an hour to pass at Brocken so we thought we’d go and eat soup in the cafe on the hill, which also had a viewing tower. Very tricky due to very slippery paths. The snow was icy! Oops! Guess who slipped over onto her knees? No, not SAR! Thankfully, it wasn’t a hard fall and there were no bad after affects, except that we walked VERY slowly and cautiously! (We weren’t wearing our snow/ice friendly boots!) We finally made it ( no more falls) to find the cafe was closed, and half the viewing deck also closed, but at least we could see a fantastic vista from up there!
So after a very cautious descent back to train side , we found a little “deli” that was run by a very grumpy man who did put himself out to sell us very nice soup and a sausage! (With a chocolate chaser!)
At 14:51 (exactly) we left beautiful Brocken for our return journey. As it was getting colder by the minute we thought we’d sit sensibly inside the carriage but both had some outside time……SAR for photos and me because I was too hot inside! What a great steam train trip! Breath taking!
On our return to Wernigerode, we alighted a station early and set off to find the Christmas market, in the beautiful Altstadt! What a gorgeous place…..beautifully restored old buildings, classy markets and crisply cold evening. Plus the streets and shops were all decorated so tastefully. As the sun sets about 4 pm at the moment, it’s easy to get the night-time atmosphere whilst it still is quite early.
I managed to consume yet another Bratwurst but instead of Glühwein, this time I had hot chocolate! I also bought some beautiful, delicate handmade decorations, which have since been carefully wrapped in bubble wrap.
Having fully perused the Christmas markets, we felt in need of warmth, coffee and a toilet! We found a lovely cafe that provided all three, and even found a young lady(20s) who wished to practise her English!
As we were then strolling and chatting our way back through the beautiful streets to the station, suddenly 2 people’s heads whipped around in front of us because we were speaking English! A lovely chat then ensued! The couple live in Germany (the man was born in Germany) but they both talked with a lovely Yorkshire accent! The husband learnt his English from his Yorkshire-born wife! These are the serendipitous moments that really make travelling so wonderful!
On arriving at the station, we finally headed for Hannover @ 19:18, arriving back at our lovely Hotel Elisabetha Garni at 9.30 pm. What a wonderful day!