Germany, December 24-26, 1998

I had to share a compartment with five other people when I took the red-eye train to Frankfurt from Paris, so it was hard for me to get any sleep. (The sleeping car was booked, so I had to settle for a 2nd class seat - at least, I relished travelling like a local) Trains in Europe usually run on time, so I arrived at Frankfurt 7:01am sharp on 12/24, Christmas Eve. I immediately went to Avis and picked up a Mercedes C180 I reserved for my drive on the Autobahn, which I was looking forward to. I wasted no time and got on the Autobahn, driving 100-120mph to get to Stuttgart. Unfortunately, many places were closed during Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, so I didn't get to see much. I got lost in Zuffenhausen, a western suburb of Stuttgart, and my lack of sleep caught up, so I had to make numerous "doze stops" along the Autobahn - by the time I got to Heidelberg, it was already dark. During Christmas Day, I drove to Cologne, and took a drive-through tour of Bonn (the old capital of West Germany), Koblenz, and Wiesbaden on the way back to Frankfurt. I stayed at the Frankfurt Marriot for two nights (12/24 and 12/25) and it was very nice, but a bit too "corporate" for my taste, especially since I was travelling alone.
Typical Trains at Gare du Nord

The train I took to Frankfurt from Paris and back looks pretty
much like this train I saw at Gare du Nord (North train station).
I departed from Gare de l'Est (East train station) which is only
a Métro stop away from Gare du Nord. Paris has six main train
stations: Gare du Nord, St-Lazare, de Montparnasse, d'Austerlitz,
de Lyon, and de l'Est. Each station represents a certain direction
out of Paris. Note the TGV (Train à Grand Vitesse) high speed
train stopped along side.

Heidelberg's Castle Ruin

Although I tried to get to Heidelberg before sunset, I didn't make
it because I was lost in Zuffenhausen and I had taken many naps to
fight off fatigue. Still, I got a pretty good view of the Heidelberg
Castle from the hill above. Heidelberg is a residential/college
town and it's quite charming.

Cologne Cathedral and the Rhine River

This is probably the largest Cathedral in Germany, if not in all
of Europe. Its size was quite overwhelming, dwarfing Paris's
Notre-Dame Cathedral. I came here on Christmas Day, so most of
the restaurants and shops were closed, but the Cathedral was
open and there were many people there. I was hoping to smell
better after this visit, but I guess not!

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