Into the Eifel, aboard the Vulkan-Express

Steaming through the Eifel on a Sunday afternoon. What more could I want? The Eifel, one of my favorite regions. Steam trains, a reminder of my childhood. A lovely journey on a narrow-gauge railway, starting near the River Rhine, continuing along the Brohltal, deep into the Eifel.

You don’t get to see everything from the train. The volcanic lake, underground caves, amazing rock formations. You would need a car, a bicycle or a good pair of walking boots to see some of the sights. But it’s all there, tucked away, nestled in the woodlands, valleys and hills. And even if you don’t take the time to see these things, the vineyards, castles and rivers, even if you only take a train ride and don’t explore the wider region, the Christmas markets, walled towns, pretty villages, then it’s still very pleasant, especially if you travel the same way that I did last year…

Picture this; some bench seats and tables, the kind normally found in German Biergartens, secured to the inside of an open wagon, the type that might be used for moving rocks, rubble or coal. It was in this that a small number of us chose to travel. The staff warned us that we might get dirty, but we didn’t care. It felt exhilarating, with the wind, steam, smoke and grit in our hair. Yes grit in our hair, grit in our eyes. Oh and did I mention the rain? Well it was just a light shower or two. This is only for the most enthusiastic of enthusiasts, I thought, or for people with a sense of fun and adventure.

You might notice the goods wagon in the following photo, taken on a different day. Imagine being in it, behind a steam locomotive, traveling through the lush green valley. A spot of rain wouldn’t matter, would it? The second picture shows a view from that goods wagon.


It reminded me of my teenage years when I worked on a railway. Reminded me of the things you might not normally notice as a passenger. The clanking and hissing, blasting and whistling; the smell of oil and grease, steam and smoke; oily rags and overalls, oil cans and enamel flasks; the scraping of shovels beneath the coal. Mechanics and engineering of a bygone era. Rods and pistons. Valves and regulators. Chugging and trundling along, metal wheels on metal rails. The railway has a certain rhythm, don’t you think? The goods wagon appealed to me, a proper railway experience, like being on the footplate, I thought. And there are plenty of nice passenger carriages too, if the goods wagon is not your thing! 🙂

Here are some more pictures of the Brohltalbahn, otherwise known as the Vulkan-Express.

IMG_2510 IMG_2508 IMG_2507 IMG_2505 IMG_2469 IMG_2482 IMG_2489 (1)IMG_2493 IMG_2492 IMG_2483 IMG_2486

Thanks for reading, and if you would like to see more of my blog posts about the Eifel, then please feel free to take a look at:

  1. Driving through the Eifel
  2. Late Summer in the Rhineland
  3. The Ahr Valley


© Chris Robinson 2016. All rights reserved.


6 thoughts on “Into the Eifel, aboard the Vulkan-Express

  1. Pat

    I wish there was more of this in the US. I love sharing your travels! The photos are wonderful and the prose really brings it alive.

  2. Nay Dean

    Thank you for the beautiful pictures and this wonderfully written article. It’s like reading a novel. It comes from the heart and it is more music to my ears than any article ever written in German about our Vulkan express. Makes me happy to hear that international guests enjoy our region as much as Germans do!


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