One of the problems of travelling around on one's own is filling in the gaps in the day. There seems to be constant periods of waiting for places to open or to be able to eat and you become adept at sleeping in as long as you can after breakfast until the cleaners come and stretching out time sitting in cafes or in parks waiting. I also went to the cinema a lot and felt like an escaped prisoner-of-war as that was a tactic they used in order to find somewhere to sleep. To keep my rucksack light, I had not packed any fiction books, just my European youth hostel and the Michelin guide to West Germany which I must have read cover-to-cover by the time I had finished the trip. I learnt from this mistake and was grateful on future trips for having packed good books despite the weight. I never make friends easily and find it difficult to strike up conversations. I do find that as shown here in Heidelberg, that I run into British people I have met before, earlier on the trip. They are always couples and sort of take me under their wing, something I know Victoria Wood has parodied in some of her stand-up comedy. It is always odd being the third of such a group. It happened again in Venice in 2003 but by then I was more skilled at getting away from them. I have no ideas why couples feel obliged to do this and Mark & Helen even referred to me as the 'bad penny' as if they felt I was a pain. Perhaps they thought I was following them. However, with inter-railing as with any tourism, there were almost set stops along the way so it was quite likely, especially if youth hostels were to be your accommodation (and not every town has one) that you would meet again. As I did short hops each day, only 1-2 hours on the train, I would also run into people cycling between the towns especially down the Rhine Valley, when they arrived in the evening.
I also remember Heidelberg being the place where I realised that my university's travel agents had badly misinformed me. I had asked them whether it was worthwhile getting an international student identity card and they said only if I wanted to take flights, so as I was going by train there seemed to be no point. However, Mark & Helen each had one and I witnessed it allowing them to get into all the museums and kind of places I wanted to visit at a discount rate, so poor advice made my holiday more expensive.