Germany 22.5.03-26.5.03 <  >

After the narrow gauge interlude in France it was time to resume progress in Germany. With Berlin ‘done’ as far as engineering permitted, I started heading south again, this time focussing on Baden-Württemberg where there were still a lot of minor lines to do, not to mention the heavy rail trams in the Karlsruhe area.

For some reason I didn’t take my camera this time – so no pictures of the Karlsruhe system, with which I was most impressed.

Thursday 22.5.03

Quiz season over (will we be promoted? Who knows) so no gloom other than the weather. H wanted the car parked at home rather than the airport so ‘volunteered’ to take me to BHX for an 0525 check-in. Got there at 0515, settled in for a long wait but then more check in staff arrived and I was checked in just after 0530. Nipped over to Birmingham Irrational on the funicular to check train times for Monday, arriving back at the gate just as The Man was about to have me called. The aircraft (CRJ-700) left late due to air traffic control but arrived at Stuttgart a whisker early. What a splendid airport – if I’d had any hold baggage I could have picked it off the carousel as I charged by en route to the station. Minor skirmish with the ticket machine caused me to miss the 0908, which would have put me an hour ahead, but I caught 0918 to Stuttgart Hbf with ease.

On arrival at Hbf, nothing until the planned RE at 1040 so I decided to walk down to Calwerstrasse to see how long it took. 15 minutes if you don’t get lost. I did, confused by major roadworks, but benefited from the experience by seeing Schlossplatz, a large and rather gracious square in the centre of town. Back from Calwerstrasse on an S1 bound for Plochingen, purchased a Dinkelacker CD-Pils to while away the journey to Hessental, and off I went on an electrically pushed RE.

Minor delay at Murrhardt waiting for 143252 to come the other way. No sign of the Untergröningen kart at Gaildorf West, though there is a white railcar, badly damaged, in a siding. I wonder if it was the one on which I did the branch. The engineering work seems to have been built into the timetable and arrival was close to the scheduled 1149 at Schwäbisch Hall-Hessental. A bit disappointing to arrive here on P3 and leave from P1 which appears only to be connected to the Heilbronn line. To be rectified if ever passing! 143956 was the propulsion from Stuttgart. The Heilbronn trains seem to have moved from Rabbits to 628s, sadly.

A 16 minute booked wait at Waldenburg to cross the next 628 didn’t seem like good timetabling but one line is out of use, seemingly temporarily, west of here and given that the connections at SH-Hessental seem sensible maybe that’s the only way it would all work.

Not a lot to be seen at Heilbronn which unfortunately looks just as unprepossessing as the Rough Guide suggested. Maybe it’s better at Harmonie. A solitary Rabbit was gamely keeping a siding dry, otherwise units and 143s. No sign of a decent pub nearby so I sat in a nice warm Stuttgart train to wait for mine which goes from the adjacent platform. I hope. [One of these days this tactic will misfire. I hope I go somewhere interesting by accident!]

Rain seemed set in for the afternoon but it’s still quite an interesting run to Meckesheim, propelled by Rabbit 218219. Amongst other lineside features is a salt mine not far north of Heilbronn. The line to Steinsfurt and Meckesheim leaves the Lauda and Ebersbach lines at Bad Friedrichshall-Jagstfeld and is single thereafter.

SWEG services use P1 at Meckesheim, everything else is on PP2/3. The layout at Neckarbischofsheim Nord is roughly

Only one train a day does the crossover, and I wasn’t on it! It’s difficult to do both without getting seriously stranded so I didn’t feel too bad about it. Both branches were worked by single unit bogie railcars similar to the ones on the Regentalbahn (and better than a 153). [T ype NE 81, built by Waggon-Union of Berlin ] Both branches would probably be very pleasant on a sunny day - but this was a very dreary one. A large military establishment at Siegelsbach is rail connected. At Hüffenhardt, which looks not to be a great place to spend 2 hours (fortunately I only had 9 minutes) there is a siding and a run round loop plus a small loco shed, none of which appear used. The line ends with a buffer stop at the platform end and it appears that it never went further. Traffic was very light – self plus half a dozen school children going up, self only coming back at 1553, with one more joining at Untergimpern and two at Neckarbischofsheim-Helmhof. All the rest decamped at Neckarbischofsheim-Stadt leaving me on my own again.

Off up to Aglasterhausen after a short wait in the rain at Neckarbischofsheim Nord. This line is shorter (though it used to continue through to Neckarelz on the Heilbronn - Eberbach line) and goes through more wooded and hilly countryside. Again there is a runround loop at the terminus. At least two rakes of timber wagons were seen at various points. Somewhere in the planning process I’d not observed that when the kart arrived at Aglasterhausen at 1642 it returned immediately as 1645 to Meckesheim. This provided a 2 minute connection at Meckesheim on to 1710 Heidelberg which was easily made and gave me time to go through to Heidelberg on the train I’d originally planned. This ensured getting the physical connection at Neckargemünd and spared me from half an hour in the rain at publess Meckesheim! Rabbit-in-Charge to Heidelberg was 218199.

Back from Heidelberg on a wedged 628, presumably vice a failed Rabbit as it was only one 2-car unit and was booked off 4a and 4b. Uneventful trundle through the murk to Eppingen, terminating in P1, then off P3 in a late running tram to Heilbronn. Just west of Heilbronn Hbf the trams charge straight across the layout to gain the street running section on the south side. Hotel (Zum Post) was less than 5 minutes from Harmonie and made me welcome in (very) fractured English. [I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – any English is greatly appreciated, fractured or not!] Out for supper at Gaststätte Lohtorstübe near the Rathaus which was a four ale bar dispensing Dinkelacker and Sanvald beers. I had the latter’s weissbier, which was fine, and some very nice grilled (a bit) pork.

Friday 23.5.03

7½ hours kip was very welcome. More would have been too, but 0630 breakfast offered an opportunity to gain an hour by getting 0717 tram instead of 0821. The Man was on the case at 0627 and willingly reduced the bill from the attempted €55 to the HRS-stated 52. Adequate breakfast and away on a busy 0717 Eilzug. Very pleasing to use the same line into Eppingen as yesterday’s kart, using P1. I don’t think they have to, but this one did.

Alighted at Markplatz (Karlsruhe) to find it a triangular layout, and realised that the S1 to Hochstetten was there just as it started to move! That 20 minutes might have been useful later. I used it to contemplate the large beer tent that’s due to open later, and to do the north-east to south side of the triangle which I’d just missed. The Hochstetten tram route joins the railway just before August-Bebel-Strasse and seems to wander on and off the alignment thereafter. It doesn’t appear to be connected to the heavy rail network, so arguably isn’t track. [On the other hand it uses former heavy rail alignment so arguably is. I’ve done it, so it is now!] At Hochstetten there’s a turning circle with the single stop half way round, so no funny business there.

Back through Karlsruhe (no beer tent yet, 10:30) via the Albtalbf where the cast iron pillars have been kept, to Itterbach Rathasu where there is the same arrangement as Hochstetten. A nice ride, quite scenic once out of Karlsruhe. Clocked a station buff at Ettlingen Stadt (very nicely converted station with overall roof like the Albtalbf) and nothing at all at Busenbach so I decided to spend the connection time at Ettlingen if possible. It was, and I did (though I was wrong about Busenbach, which actually has a chocolate machine). The unexceptional Moninger Export weighed in at £1.80/pint and the building had the usual useful facilities for the hard pressed tram gricer! Usual German interpretation of a swift ‘alf but I was out in good time for 1213 to Bad Herrenalb. There’s a rail connected industrial area between Ettlingen Albgaubad and Ettlingen Spinnerei but I couldn’t convince myself it had any rail traffic.

Very picturesque and even somewhat touristy up to Bad Herrenalb. Fear loomed when I saw that this too was a conversion of the old station, but it was always a terminus and the loop for the trams goes round through the old station forecourt and back to the railway alignment at the ‘buffer stops’ end. There is a small funicular serving a nearby hotel, but I didn’t have time to inspect.

On return to Karlsruhe it all went horribly pear shaped as I realised that S3/31 went via Ettlingen West to Rastatt and S4/41 via Durmersheim, which I’ve done. Accordingly took S4 only to Forchheim and back to do the connection from the Albtalbf to the main line. Decamped at Marktplatz on the way back and thence S5 (despite the computer display saying it had suddenly ceased to exist) to Wörth (Rhein) where the station had a kiosk which dispensed Ureich Pils from Eichbaum of Mannheim. It was cold, wet, and tasted vaguely of beer which was all that was required under the circs (a hot day being spent in non-aircon trams with big windows!). She gave me my 25c back on the can, too which made a,er, refreshing change.

Off to Lauterbourg next on a 628 which provided the opportunity for a rethink. Looks like I can do an S3 on Sunday, picking up my planned IRE with a 6 minute connection at Rastatt. Not an horrendous tragedy if I miss that, so a minor tweak to Sunday’s plan will keep an hour in the bank for today. Oh, and the S5 tram route has a diving junction with the DB line, so Wörth-Karlsruhe on the tram is required one day. Not today though.

Not too exciting to Lauterbourg (though I got counted in lieu of being surveyed), but it’s the first time I’ve had to get out of a train to find out what country I was in. The KVV map suggests Lauterbourg’s in Germany but all available evidence on the ground points to it being in France. [Which it is.] Not least the state of the station. Quite a lot of freight in evidence though and the service to Strasbourg is better than I thought. Yet another replan on the way back (during which I got travel-surveyed) revealed the Wörth - Karlsruhe DB route was being done on Sunday, so now it’s back to Marktplatz on the S5 via the diveunder!

Down to Wörth Rathaus on the S5, despite the blind saying Dorschberg. Track and wires are in place beyond the buffer stop so clearly it’s going to be extended soon. The tram belonged to DBAG unlike the AVG ones on the S1/11 route. I didn’t think to look at the S4s. Given more than 10 minutes, ‘Lords Pub’ opposite the Rathaus tram stop must be worth a laugh. No sign of the Rathaus, just as at Itterbach.

Back to Marktplatz where it finally dawned that the S3 and S31 go main line from K-Hbf! Hasty departure on an S1 to K-Hbf ensued. The S31 was late, too. The whole thing was enlivened by a phone call from Abby (Progressive Recruitment) who had ‘just taken over Staffordshire and Shropshire’, etc., etc. Really dead boring as far as Ubstadt Ort - anybody wanting a volunteer to ride rapidly along a flood plain in a tram need not apply. Menzingen is quite rural and pleasant though. Horror when we arrived about 3 late; I’d assumed the same unit would work back but there was another one in the easternmost platform, with driver. The interval between arrival (1818) and departure (1821) had already elapsed so I tore round and threw myself into the other unit. Good call as it turned out - it was the 1821!

The 2 minute connection at Ubstadt Ort was also a very close call. The driver shut the doors in my face but I hit the button before the lights went out and was able to get in, along with at least one normal making the same connection. Odenheim is a nice enough little trundle with a nice bit through the house backs at Zeutern. It appears, like Menzingen, to be all on the original alignment. More quirks at Odenheim (which looks not a bad place to be stranded anyway) but I was ready for them this time as well as having more time (8 minutes) and being prompted by going into P2, which has the depot access, not P1 where all the normals were waiting.

In the event the train was split, the front unit going into the depot after the eviction of some would-be passengers, and the rear one to Karlsruhe. Back to Bruchsal on that, with ticket procured there for tomorrow so I wouldn’t have to use cash, and from Bruchsal to Diedelsheim on the S9. The hotel overlooks the station and doesn’t do breakfast until 0730 so I’ll just have to have a lie-in.

Given the prices in the hotel I decided to try Bretten so off by the S9 again to Bretten, then S4 (or was it 41) to Bretten Stadt. After a short search I found The Square With Everyone Outside The Pubs, as you do. One false start (30 minutes wait, said the lovely waitress, of which Bretten has a number) then Eulenspiegel delivered the goods with turkey and Paulaner weizenbier. Turns out Eulenspiegel is the German equivalent of a jester. It was sufficiently appealing that I missed the train anyway and ended up with the 2256.

Saturday 24.5.03

A good night’s sleep, interrupted by the odd train (I suspect I slept through most of them) but worth it to have the window open. Very nice breakfast too; the only others present were Italian, strange in an out of the way place, and it’s altogether a recommendable establishment at €42 (weekend rate, it being Fri/Sat). I got a bit complacent about being so near the station, remembering only at 0752 that the 0804 went from the other side (over the level crossing). Thinking of Tile Hill I made a very sharp exit. The point was emphasised when at 0759 the crossing was closed for a Hamburg Altona - Stuttgart NZ. It did open again, though.

Tram to Bruchsal then an unnoted and almost punctual electric shove to Heidelberg Hbf. A repeat thence to Darmstadt via Weinheim and Bensheim where some cameras beside the line gave me a hint to keep looking. The target turned out to be 4-6-4T 78468 on a lengthy train of dark green four-wheelers. Very smart too.

Arrival at Darmstadt was 3 late for a 4 minute connection but the connection on to Aschaffenburg was 10 late. It was 12 late leaving Darmstadt behind 143646. Slow running as far as D-Krainichen made it 13. There’s an interesting assortment of stuffed engines here including an 01 which looks as if it doesn’t go. There’s also a large red tender loco (couldn’t see the wheel arrangement behind a pug and a gronk) with British style smoke deflectors, a long fairing over the safety valves etc., double chimney and a valance below the running plate. This looked as if it would go. [This was 18 201, a unique semi-streamlined 3-cylinder Pacific rebuilt by DR in 1961 from pre-WWII streamlined 4-6-6 tank loco 61 002]. On to Aschaffenburg at a modest pace, with some time regained between Babenhausen and Stockstadt but lost thereafter with a speed restriction over the Main bridge and an exceptionally funereal approach to Aschaffenburg. Eventual arrival was 13 late at 1125 for an 1125 departure to Crailsheim. Fortunately this was cross platform and was being held. Also pleasingly it was Rabbit hauled; I’d been expecting a 628 although the first train we crossed was a 646. With air conditioning. Hmm… Crossed a pair of 628s at Tauberbischofsheim after a very nice ride up the Main and (from Wertheim to Elpersheim) Tauber valleys. Another Rabbit, 218166, crossed at Schrozberg.

Arrival at Crailsheim was a great relief on such a hot day. The blue Rabbit turned out to be 218357. I left it to walk up to the town to find The Square WEOTP (see yesterday), found it but with only the Hotel Whatever available. After being ignored by two snotty painted waitresses for 15 minutes (what a contrast to Bretten) I went back to the station where a quite delightful lady in the bothy outside was dispensing CD-Pils from the fridge at very modest cost. I wondered why I’d bothered getting hot(ter).

Another very good trip down to Aalen, much helped by the air conditioning in the low-floor dogbox. I wonder when Central Trains will get some. On time arrival made for an easy connection (3 minutes) into 1635 RE to Stuttgart, double decked and not air conditioned. Beastly. Worse than that, it showed signs of sickness and by Endersbach, the 112 had become terminal. I thought the day was lost, but we were decanted on to an S2 (at least, those who were quick enough were) and hopefully will be in Stuttgart in time for the 1819 to Bruchsal. Another kettle, 4-6-0 38 3519 was encountered at Fellbach.

Eventual arrival at Stuttgart Hbf (tief) was just after 1800, allowing time to grab a quick burger in case of lack of facilities at Schifferstadt. 1819 to Bruchsal and Heidelberg left on time and was blessedly air conditioned, but soon ran into problems and was 10 minutes late after 15 minutes. Yet again the connection seemed threatened; this time it was 14 minutes at Bruchsal. By Mühlacker the unit was back on the case however, and arrival at Bruchsal was only 3 late at 1930. Route was Bietigheim-Bissingen, Mühlacker, Bretten. The onward connection was a 628 - it maintained 2 minutes lateness all the way to Speyer Hbf where it was held for 9 minutes because of single line working. Parish notices for tomorrow are to be read carefully! Finally arrived at Schifferstadt Hbf at 2044, 10 minutes late. Not too bad under the circs I suppose. Schifferstadt was a total washout pubwise, hotel was locked up when I got back at 2130 so went to bed in disgust and in the middle of a thunderstorm…

Sunday 25.5.03

…which didn’t keep me awake for a second. 8½ hours sleep were very welcome and I’d been sensible enough to follow my own advice last night so wasn’t caught out by the SEV (with Italian driver) which left at 0824 replacing the 0848 train as far as Speyer. Rather better breakfast than yer average Sunday; Hotel Kaufmann is very recommendable at €49 (weekend presumably) though nobody in their right mind would visit Schifferstadt for a wild night out!

The bus arrived at Speyer about 0845 leaving plenty of time for the 0858 train, which appeared with passengers. Perhaps only some trains were SEV’d and this was the previous one. [More likely I think that the platforms weren’t available at Schifferstadt] No harm done anyway and we made Wörth in time for a tilting RE to Karlsruhe Hbf which arrived in the bay platform 101. The IRE to Stuttgart, formed of IR stock, was waiting in P10 and deposited me at a distinctly cool Mühlacker for a 29 minute wait to go to Maulbronn Stadt. P3 completely deserted but eventually the train appeared with one punter and one travel surveyor and one conductor and one driver. Two more punters joined after me so at least the normals outnumbered the trackbashers. In fact after writing this three more joined - amazingly all had luggage. The surveyor checked my ticket but although he had a lengthy discussion with the normals, I was left alone.

Maulbronn Stadt was a superb short branch with unused freight facilities at the end. Vegetation brushed the train most of the way - there were woods both sides for the whole distance from Maulbronn West. The track was quite overgrown, though judging by the speed of the 628 it’s in quite good shape, and the whole effect is of a high quality railtour. Absolutely first class and well worth hanging a weekend on. Unfortunately the survey man didn’t speak English so I still don’t know why the service runs. I was the only passenger on the 1117 back. Return to Pforzheim is via the Mühlacker ‘avoider’, also fairly inexplicable as you’d think they would go into Mühlacker and reverse on the off chance of a few passengers. Then again, maybe not.

On arrival at Pforzheim a celebratory beer was clearly required so I passed up the Schlosskeller across the road (BTDTGTTS) and opted for the station bar which did draught Stuttgarter Hofbräu, and none the worse for that. Into Karlsruhe on an RE (beastly 435). Memo for next time: do the tram to Pforzheim for some distinctly separate alignment. This would fit in usefully with Bad Wildbad Kurpark if going to/coming from Stuttgart.

Tram from K-Hbf to Rastatt, via Ettlingen West (eastern route) at last. Passed 103113 en route hauling a dead loco, a 101 I think. Also noted a hausbrauerei in Malsch station. The tram was on time despite an interestingly circuitous route through the yard just north of Rastatt station, ending up in P6 on the Freudenstadt lines. The 6 minute connection was therefore comfortable for the IRE to Offenburg (and Konstanz) which disappointed by being RB/RE push-pull stock instead of ex-IR. Close to time at Offenburg though, and so to nasty double deckers bound for Basel SBB, which I suffered as far as Freiburg. Insufficient time to do the whole Breisgau network so I joined a pair of Adtranz low floor karts heading for Breisach. This was full and standing as far as Gottenheim where I changed to another of the same to do the twig to Riegel Ort which has an awkward timetable. This one was a single Adtranz unit in SWEG livery, still more than half full at 1533 on a Sunday. Freight traffic, possibly timber, was evident at the first station, Bötzingen.

For safety’s sake I decided to bale out at Riegel Ort where I was surprised to find a smartly preserved (by Eisenbahnfreunde Breisgau e.V.) Henschel 0-8-0T, works no. 20870 of 1927. The station has two platform faces, both accessible from Riegel and Gottenheim at the east end, and Breisgau at the west. I was more than relieved to arrive at the northern platform and depart from the southern one, so it doesn’t matter which one the Riegel-Breisach or vv service uses when I get round to it. Seemingly no chance at the Gottenheim end as the Endingen karts use a separate platform.

Back at Freiburg (same route) I used the lesson from yesterday and grabbed a burger ‘en passant’. A little early, but who knows what Appenweier might not have to offer on a Sunday. Back to Offenburg on another nasty double decker, noting that at Riegel the Breisach branch is on a separate alignment. The branch leaves Riegel northwards though it looks as if it once went south as well (no evidence in S&W to support this). There is a physical connection but its heavily rusted and it looks as if all access is from the Bresiach direction. At Appenweier the Schwarze Adler was easily located (by common sense rather than DB’s directions, unusually) and of course as I’d eaten, there’s a perfectly good, open pub just across the road. Sigh.

Anyway, back to the station in spotty rain for the 1856 to Bad Griesbach, another Adtranz kart belonging to another local operator. Nice run up to Bad Griesbach though, up a valley into the edge of the Black Forest, getting steeper as it goes. Bad Griesbach is a little touristy village with no freight; the line ends in plain track. Local geography would have made it difficult to go further even if there were anywhere to go. The kart left Appenweier quite well filled but shed passengers in the lower reaches and only about half a dozen went through to Bad Griesbach. In common with the other branches today, except Maulbronn Stadt, there was intermediate traffic as well as that from the main line. The karts have to use the Karlsruhe bound platform at Appenweier, so no junction problems.

Once again the kart ended up quite full, particularly after Oberkirch where there is a certain amount of freight. It’s a pity the large timber yards further up the line don’t use rail. Back at Appenweier after a very satisfactory day, if not as originally planned, it seemed only sensible to step across the road to Zur Sonne for a swift ‘alf. I found Ulmer Maibock, a darkish bock vaguely like Old Hooky but sweeter, from Brauerei Bauhöfer (presumably of Ulm). Not to mention an English speaking barmaid, bless ‘er. I was back to the Schwarzer Adler by 2145 to find it all locked up - I’d been told 2230 by HRS and 2200 by the receptionist, who ought to know. I couldn’t find my room either in the dark, having remembered it as half way up the first flight of stairs (it was half way up the second). Says something for the Ulmer Maibock.

Monday 26.5.03

A reasonable night’s kip though woken by the church bells having a good old ring just before 0600. Somewhat below par breakfast, including having to drag a crone out of the kitchen to provide a pot of lukewarm coffee. Full marks for a separate breakfast room for the accursed smokers though. The gricing started with the 0906 to Achern 5 minutes late. I didn’t even bother worrying about it; only in England would the Ottenhöfen branch train not be held. It was, of course. A single railcar with the same hideously uncomfortable seats as the one from Meckesheim on Thursday. Nice line though, ending predictably with a steep climb up to Ottenhöfen which is a village strung out along a valley with a few shops and a large number of eating and drinking places for the grockles. The Lamm looked particularly enticing and only the sternest of British resolve kept me out of there, plus the fact it was only 0950.

Back to Achern on time, and the 1043 RE to Konstanz was too. Changed at Offenburg and was surprised to find the 1107 to Hausach was an OSB Adtranz dogbox. A straightforward change was made at Biberach where the Oberharmersbach-Riersbach karts (OSB Adtranz again) use the bay platform 7. This branch runs up a wider and shallower valley and is a bit less entertaining than Ottenhöfen. Another unit was in the platform at Oberharmersbach-Riersbach so we stopped 27m short! There’s a short run round loop and a small shed, but again no freight facilities remain.

Back to Biberach on the kart and on to Hausach on another of the same (actually two, travelling in the rear one to maintain overlap). Around 45 minutes at Hausach seemed to hold out the promise of food and beer but by the time I’d located the entirely suitable Ratskeller 15 minutes had elapsed so there was only time for a beer. This was Ketterer from somewhere in the Schwarzwald. I wish I knew where then I’d know to avoid it. Fortunately it was dispensed in 25cl glasses. [Curious, this. It’s from Pforzheim and I’d tried it before on 2.12.01 without taking such umbrage. Maybe I didn’t have the Pils this time.] Back at the station DB’s answer to CT’s 153s was waiting. A genuine single unit dogbox, of class 627 (half a 628, like 153 vs 156), externally woebegone with heavy graffiti, internally vandalised and with collapsed seats. Made me homesick. Not.

Old track to Freudenstadt Hbf, but still enjoyable. In on P4 and out on P1 on another 627, identical except slightly better seats, to Eutingen am Gäu. There are three quite spectacular viaducts soon after leaving Freudenstadt, the first with a rather worrying 5km/h speed limit. Alas, no overlap on reaching Eutingen - in on P3 and out on P1. Anything to or from Stuttgart from or to P3 would be worthwhile if there were nothing better to do. On from Eutingen to Stuttgart Hbf in a scrubby RE, to do the main line in from Vaihingen (and back). It has to be said you get the occasional impressive view of the city from this line which is quite high up on the side of a valley.

After a refuelling stop and a last despairing attempt to get a new timetable (CD not available until June) it was back out to Böblingen on another RE to do the flyovery bits - and that was it for another trip. It remains only to S1 it to Stadtmitte for a visit to the brewpub or the Paulaner pub, then S2 it to the airport.

Amazing how things can suddenly change! The brew pub was closed from 1700 for a company ‘do’ and Zum Paulaner, not surprisingly, was all seats taken inside. It was too cold to sit outside (yes, May 26th and locos failing due to the heat 2 days ago) so that was that. Walked back up to Hbf thinking I was bound to find a decent pub on the way - wrong again. Now I know why Stuttgart has only two mentions in the Rough Guide. Back at the Hbf, the Zapfhahn came to the rescue with Sanwald Hefeweizen which was more than acceptable, though well less than cheap. Still made it to the S2 so it all ended relatively happily.

Thereafter no problem getting to the airport. The CRJ landed 20 minutes early, so it’s wait and see time.

Everything OK - arrived BHX 20 minutes early too and was on the platform at Birmingham Irrational before scheduled flight arrival at 2030. 2039 Virgin to Manchester Piccadilly left on time, possibly that is a first. And if all that were not enough, Wolves beat Sheffield United 3-0 and are in the Premiership. That even pleased Mr Anti-Football!








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