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13:30 (European time).

Apologies for not blogging before but it’s been a busy day and I didn’t want to start anything until I was on the train to Berlin.

It’s wonderful to be back in mainland Europe. I realise now how much I miss my time this side of the channel – for a whole host of reasons. It’s cleaner, the infrastructure’s modern, prices are cheaper and it just feels more relaxed.


The ferry trip from the UK was great and having a cabin felt very luxurious – a far cry from my old backpacking days when I’d have just curled up in a corner for a few hours. We arrived on time at the Hook of Holland, a place that’s changed hugely since I was last there. There’s no international trains anymore. In fact, the railway station has been made redundant. It houses a Japanese restaurant but no trains. Now the line’s become part of the Rotterdam metro but the new station’s unfinished. Instead there’s a temporary one which is a good 10 minute walk – which is ironic as the ferry stops right opposite – but then you walk down a very long gangway to get off and pass through customs and immigration to get questioned on the purpose of your visit and get your passport stamped (thanks for nothing, Brexiters).

The trip into central Rotterdam’s painless, if not particularly fast. It takes around 40 minutes. That said, it’s fascinating to see all the traffic in the docks as you pass. I bailed at xxxx station and elected to walk to Rotterdam Centraal which took me about 12 minutes. I calculated it because of my return trip where timings are tight. I now realise they’re too tight so plans are going to have to change.

Rotterdam was a doddle that time of day as the place hadn’t really woken up yet. Centraal station surprised me as it has a ticket gateline – something I’m used to in the UK but not in Germany. Otherwise the station’s typically European with a long subway lined with shops and eateries which provided me with a cheap breakfast.

The station architecture’s modern and quite striking. I’d several hours to wait for my train so spent the time wandering with the camera. Even though I had a suitcase in tow I still managed to get my daily step total in before I left. Those long platforms soon eat up 12,500 steps!

Big yellow taxi – my train from Rotterdam to Amersfoot to connect with DB’s Intercity train to Berlin.

My Dutch train left at 12:35, heading for Amersfoort Centraal. Travelling overland rather than flying was a lovely experience as I had the opportunity to appreciate how many waterways this part of the Netherlands contains. Homes backing onto a canal isn’t too unusual where I live in West Yorkshire but then I’m spoiled. Here everyone seems to have access to water. You even see blocks of flats on stilts that are surrounded by a lake. Plus, there’s not the scenes of dereliction so common back in the UK. Here, everything feels better maintained or renewed.

I did have a momentary feeling of ‘oh, shit’ when my train to Amersfoot was signal-checked and ran late. I had a 5 minute cross platform connection with the Berlin train. As it was, the pair of trains arrived at exactly the same time and the coach I had a reservation in pulled up almost opposite me!

Now I’m on IC147, a loco-hauled intercity service to Berlin Ostbahnhof where we’re due to arrive at 19:34 local time.

International intercity travel, old school German style.

16:10. (German time).

The trip was going really well (apart from the heavy showers, but hey – I’m on a train!) until we got to the Dutch/German border station of Bad Bentheim where we swapped locos and crews. Dutch engine 1765 was replaced by a DB ‘lok’ of unknown heritage. Well, for now anyway. The crew also changed nationality. The whole operation is meant to take seven minutes but with DBs crumbling edge of efficiency it took far, far longer, meaning we left 25 minutes late. No announcements were made either, we just started pulling away.

This delay means my connection at Berlin Ostbahnhof will be tight. I should have had 30 mins to connect with my train to Frankfurt (Oder) but that’s looking dodgy now. Never mind, I’m not going to let it worry me or spoil the trip.

Now we’re over the border Covid facemasks are mandatory on trains. It feels a little odd wearing one again but people are more relaxed about them than they were. Right now as well as enjoying the scenery I’m people watching. There’s a table opposite me containing four middle-aged women with a fifth friend behind. One of them has been to the restaurant car (at the back of the train for some reason) and stocked up on Bitburger beers! They’re now making merry but not messy…


We’ve now left Osnabruck which has a large railway yard full of car transporters moving VW cars and vans around the country. There’s even a hump for sorting and shunting wagonload traffic – a sight that disappeared in the UK in the 1980s…


We’ve now pulled out of Hannover and made up quite a bit of time. I was surprised to see that most of the occupants of my coach bailed out here but I’ve no idea why. Fair play to DB, I was wortied about the delay but they send you emails to keep you updated about connections. The latest one tells me we’ll be seven minutes late in Berlin which gives me plenty of time to make my connection. Thankfully, that connection will be made undercover as the weather’s gone to ratshit. We’re running under stormy skies and patches of heavy rain.

This rail trip highlights the great difference between the UK and Germany. Germany still makes stuff – hence all the railfreight yards I’m passing. The UK has become a service sector – which makes Brexit even more stupid. What tangible exports we had (mostly food and drink) are now hamstrung by red-tape. Germany? They have all of Europe and the world whilst we just posture.


I tempted fate, didn’t I? I praised DBs emil system that let’s you know if your connections are up shit creek. Almost as soon as I’d mentioned it we came to a stand in the midfle of nowhere for no apparent reason. The latest helpful missive tells me we’re now running 40 mins late and my connection’s up the Swannee. Ho hum…


Today’s been a long day! My express finally arrived into Berlin Ostbahnhof 50 minutes late, adding another hour to my schedule as my next onward train wasn’t until 21:04. I’m noow on another loco-hauled service made up of a rake of Double-Deck coaches. Even this train’s running five minutes late! I reckon I should get to my hotel around 22:30 and frankly, I’ll be quite happy to just crawl into bed and get some kip. The next few days are going to be hectic to say the least so recharging the batteties now whilst I can seems an eminently sensible idea.

Oh, a little aside. I’ve travelled all the way across Germany without once having my ticket checked..


Finally! I’ve made it to my hotel care of this beastie.

I must admit, I wasn’t expecting a suite. Shame I’m not here longer, I could get used to this!

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