Frankfurt and Meiningen: Part 1

There is nothing like a bit of jeopardy at the start of a journey to get the adrenaline flowing. I'd caught the 7.48 train from Brighton that should have got me in to St Pancras at 9.20, plenty of time to have complimentary coffee and pastries with the Railtrail tour manger Martin. But the train broke down just before Tulse Hill - something to do with the brakes and an alarm going off in the driver's cab - so we limped into the station and the entire train decanted and moved to platform 1. There was some confusion but eventually I caught a slow train to Kentish Town that got me to St Pancras about 10 past 10, to find Martin in the departure queue with my ticket. The day before, Railtrail had sent us a letter with change of phone for Martin, for situations like this, but it was his old one, now in the hands of his daughter!

Anyway, I made it, phew. I bought a vegan falafel sandwich, we caught the Eurostar to Brussels and then the ICE to Frankfurt, checked in to the Leonardo hotel across the way and, after a pint at the irish pub next door, we all went out for a meal at the nearby Messina Italian restaurant. I couldn't finish my huge plate of veggie pasta. The veggies, gluten-intolerants and just plain fussy eaters were put on a table of their own.

Veggie pasta at Messina, Frankfurt

Day 2 Friday 4 September 2015
The breakfast at the Leonardo was better than expected with scrambled egg and tortilla along with muesli and fruit - I'd brought my own tea bags. We got the train to Wetzlar and a bus to the Grube Fortuna mine and field museum, where the 600mm gauge locos were lined up outside the shed, accompanied by a traction engine. We had a look round the sheds, one of which contained loads of mine diesel locos, and the big black loco No. 6616 built 1912,  took us round the loop in the woods a few times with several stops for photo opportunities.

Grube Fortuna mine museum and railway, Solms.

Then it was the turn of the little green 0-4-0 Monika, built 1913.

Grübe Fortuna mine museum and railway, Solms.

We then went to the smart restaurant on site for a lovely meal (I thought we'd be at the tressle tables set out in the shed): the veggies (me and Neil) had a gorgeous salad with cheesy croquet things - and a glass of the wonderful schwarzbier (black beer)! The germans seem to miss a trick in the gift shop department!

Schwarzbier at lunch

After lunch, we headed back to Frankfurt and then on to Darmstadt Eberstadt where we took a bus to Frankenstein station and the steam tram. Of course it was another steam loco - a Henschel built 1919 -pulling some coaches to Alsbach and back alongside a road. Lots of cyclists rode alongside too.

Steam Tram, Darmstadt.

We had to stop on the way back while they took on coal in buckets from the back of a car and attached a hose to a hydrant for water - all the stopping and starting had used up the fuel! Back at Frankenstein, we transferred to the Tram Museum (with a tantalising glimpse of the railway museum on the way) where after a quick look round (there were some very saucy goings on in the model tramway on display) we were taken on a tour of Darmstadt by vintage electric tram 57, which dropped us off at the main station.

Vintage Tram, Darmstadt.

That evening Neil (the husband of Angela who I met on the Polish trip) and I looked for a decent bar for more schwarzbier but settled on a rough looking sports bar we'd seen on the way to the Messina.

More photos on Flickr.

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