Saturday, November 7, 2015

Train Ride 2015 - Amsterdam to Hamburg, 4th Leg

Date of travel: 13th October

I must say, taking trains in Germany is one of my favorite. The routes, the train car itself, the stations and its peoples becoming an interesting discovery to me. Well, maybe because I was close to 1 German guy before. He is from Nuremberg, Bavaria. Of course, Germany is a big country and I only been to 2 cities thus far, Munich in 2014 and Hamburg in 2015. Bavaria could be on a leisure trip 1 day, perhaps. For the record, both Ane and I had so much adventure with train changes as soon as we entered German's border, including our first experience riding a double decker train. People use to say, there's a rainbow in every single line.  My apology to my reader that this entry has a lot of photos to share as along the journey I had encounter many good things, and good lessons too.

We arrived at the Amsterdam Central with a city cab that the hotel arranged, quite early in the morning hour of 13th October. Amsterdam Central is one of the the main city attraction and a beautiful station, with a grandeur external facade on the outside and a modern finishes in the inside. The facilities provided in the station is 1 of the best, including a big lift to cater for traveler with a huge luggage to go up to the platform. I wished to record that I hurt my best friend feeling in the last morning we woke-up in Amsterdam. Hence the journey that whole day was ruin because of what I said and revealed honestly. I should learn to shut my stupid mouth, no matter how much people assured that they are okay with me being honest. Things got better when we reached Hamburg, exploring the cities together that evening and the next morning trying to get a glimpse of Hamburg famous port. She is an angel, a Godsend no doubt for forgiving me endlessly. Anyhow, as we were there too early, we decided to get breakfast at a sweet cafe, Julia, not much words exchanged. While waiting for coffee, I went and re-check the platform again at ICE reception. She assured me the correct platform number.

A lot of website, including our sifu's website "the men in seat 61" advising us that travel by train can be done comfortably between Amsterdam and Hamburg in just over 5 hours. What we need to observe is only a need to change trains at the designated stop, duly printed on our ticket. In other words, there's no single direct train from Amsterdam to Hamburg. So, be expected for train changes. Quite many traveller opted for train from Amsterdam Central, like us, taking the Amsterdam-Berlin Intercity (IC) service which runs 5 times daily to Osnabruck. Then from Osnabruck station, there is a direct train to Hamburg Hauptbahnhof, which will be either an IC or ICE service depending on time of traveling day. Ticket prices are from as low as Euro39 one way if booking ahead of time. Be wise.

The above photo is how the IC trains looks alike and below is a double decker train happened to be on the same track where I was sitting while waiting for our scheduled train to arrive.

We used SNBC website that handles all ICE, Thalys, TGV and IC trains when booking our ticket 3 months before departure time. You may also try Belgian Rail's international site B-Europe which accepts all credit cards or the NS International site. Notwithstanding, there is also a direct City Night Line overnight service although it's not really recommended due to too early arrival in Hamburg. This train departs nightly from Amsterdam at 1901 hours with a direction heading to Copenhagen and arrives in Hamburg at 0356 hours. Whilst, the return trip leaves Hamburg at 0031 hours arriving in Amsterdam at 0959 hours which is much better option. Prices for the City Night Line differs according to your preferred choice, seat only, couchette or a sleeper coach. It also depending on the time when you made your booking. My advice is try to book well in advance.

Above photo shows how the seats was arranged in the 2nd class. There's also a dedicated place for you to store your luggage. We both always make sure that we arrived early in our coach so that our luggage is secured at the most convenience place, easier for us to take them out when we arrived at the next stations.

For your information, the ICE (a short form name for Inter City Express) is a high speed train that connects all major cities in Germany. With speeds up to 300 km/h, this is one of the fastest ways to travel between cities such as Berlin, Hamburg and Cologne in Germany itself. The ICE has international connections to Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Switzerland and Austria.

The DB train from Amsterdam made about a 15 minute stops at Bad Brethem and most passengers were allowed to step down from the train. Our coach was filled with a group of college students along with their professor. It was noisy with them having a conversation among themselves that we failed to understand. We just offered a smile politely. Likewise they did the same. I was following them down when the train was stop taking my handphone. I walked a little bit to snap below 2 photos which happened to be already in the German's soil. Cold breeze seems to help boosting people's mood. It does, trust me.

Our train, the Deutsche Bahn Intercity-Express (ICE) high-speed train connects many major cities across Germany. Travel by ICE to the heart of each city, close to all the main attractions and hotels. If you plan to explore neighbouring countries of Germany you may do so by taking an international ICE train to Austria's city, i.e. Vienna or Innsbruck, a cities in Belgium (Brussels, Liege) or to a cities in Denmark (Copenhagen and Arhus), Paris city in France, 3 cities in Netherlands (Arnhem, Utrecht and Amsterdam) and even to cities in Switzerland (Zurich and Interlaken). I get to know from ICE website. Please feel free to visit them should you want to know more of their routes.

We arrived at a dedicated platform for a change train to Hamburg in Osnabruck station on time. However, we hardly see that many passengers waiting at the platform. The station master then came and approach us, informing that there is a 2 hour delay in our next scheduled train due to unavoidable reason. She has advised us to change platform and take the next train scheduled to depart to Bremen station. From Bremen station, we had to look and change again for any other available train to Hamburg. We did as told with an adventurous mode clearly shown on our face.

Thank God for the lifts and the underground passage. We have no difficulties to ride the next train. Unbelievable that this train is quite empty and we cannot even contain our happiness when we discovered it is a double decker train. Believe me, everything about this modern train car is exciting. There's even a dedicated place to place a bike, a pet beside the luggage store area. I later chose to occupy the whole area by myself, engrossed with a peace being alone with autumn view from outside the window.

The ICE connects 32 major cities. I hope you should be able to understand why I said being in German's train is an exciting journey. Below list are some domestic and international examples of the travel routes available for you to consider:

  1. Frankfurt - Hamburg
  2. Frankfurt - Munich
  3. Frankfurt - Cologne
  4. Frankfurt - Stuttgart
  5. Hamburg - Munich
  6. Berlin - Hamburg
  7. Berlin - Frankfurt
  8. Berlin - Munich
  9. Frankfurt - Paris
  10. Frankfurt - Brussels
  11. via Bruxelles-Nord / Brussel-Noord
  12. Hamburg - Copenhagen
  13. Cologne - Brussels
  14. via Bruxelles-Nord / Brussel-Noord
  15. Frankfurt - Aachen
  16. Frankfurt - Basel
  17. Frankfurt - Amsterdam
  18. Nuremberg - Vienna

Nearing Bremen station, Ane joined me in my private corner. We then followed another traveler who speaks good English in searching for the next train in Bremen. Again, there are sufficient lifts, travelator and stairs provided at the station for your easy access. We sighed with relief as soon as we boarded on the next train, again the double decker. This time, I chose to sit on the upper deck with amazing view.

2 photos above are while we were still in Bremen station and below was the city of Bremen. It's advantageous to get a clear view and a clear shots taking photo inside the double decker train. The crowds were not there at the time we travelled, the upper deck coach was quite empty.

We saw below sign, Hamburg - Harburg and thought that we have arrived in Hamburg, not knowing it was another station away. Goodness, we walked on the pedestrian walkaway exit direction happily clueless that we were on the wrong station. Anne immediately trying to show me that the hotel that we booked seated just across the station from her save google map. We failed to see any buildings nearby and mutually agreed for taxi to take us there. The cab driver quoted Euro30 to send us. I tried to negotiate but he did not listen. Apparently even if using the matter the fare is more than Euro30. So I paid the fare myself as it was my fault for not checking properly. Hubby called when we were in the cab and he was proud that I was responsible for my mistake.

The cab driver is an honest man, he stopped the meter as it exceeded Euro 30 when we about 5 minutes away from the hotel. True, the hotel seated just in front of the Hamburg train station. Ane is genius for finding this hotel. In fact, it was a hotel recommended by our sifu in his website. We were happy with it. Below photo was at the exit point of Harburg station, whilst above was the cab that we took that day.

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