En route with the Deutsche Bahn

I’m not familiar with Germany. I’m even less familiar with the Deutsche Bahn. I was en route with my youngest (10 years old) from Hamburg Airport to Föhr. That meant changing 4 times before reaching our destination. Everything had worked like clockwork, all the connections were on-time, compared with the service the price is in order. Nonetheless I am considering never travelling with the DB again, if I’m travelling with luggage.

There were two of us and we had two heavy trolley cases, each weighing about 23 kilos. The Deutsche Bahn doesn’t expect luggage and, if there is any, then only with strong young men, who are practiced in lifting and carrying heavy loads.

In the Hamburg main station the lift to the platform was not working. That meant 40 steep steps. How do mothers with prams manage that? Or the physically handicapped? Do they only travel with assistance? Or does the Deutsche Bahn provide porters? We didn’t find any and therefore I had to heave the two heavy cases, one after the other, up the stairs.

Climbing into the carriage was similar. The gap between the steps and the platform was considerable and the steps into the carriage very steep. A lady, who tried to heave up her cases before us, fell backwards and was supported by many hands to prevent worse happening. I heaved our two cases up into the carriage and was K.O. for the next half hour. I thanked my swimming training for my strong back and muscular arms. How one manages it without this preparation I don’t know. In the compartment there was not enough room. The cases had to go high over my head, but despite my strength, I did not succeed in heaving a third of my weight over my own head. I wasn’t the only one and therefore the journey was not really comfortable, because the cases took up space and were simply an inconvenience. Perhaps the constructors of the future generation of carriages look at real life. When changing, the scene with the cases repeated itself each time.

Even more arduous was the return journey. One can’t just buy a train ticket and climb into any long distance train, but one buys a ticket for a specific train at a specific time. I also wanted to reserve a seat, but there were none left. Naively I assumed that there will be enough seats. After all the computer knows from where all the people are travelling. But unfortunately that was not so. Apart from the difficult climb into the train with the two cases – but there I was already mentally prepared and after a week’s sailing well trained – it turned out that all the seats, and I mean all, were reserved. For the cases, again room had been planned high under the carriage ceiling and there was no room to stand in the narrow corridor. The next four hours were quite eventful. Now at last I realised, why, when I bought the tickets, I was sold a cheap ticket. The others had a seat. I had saved 6 Euro unwillingly. That was really NOT worthwhile and if I had understood, I would never have done it.

We wandered through the train and everywhere it was the same, right through to the last carriage, half of which was reserved for bicycles. We sat down there next to the bicycles. We weren’t the only ones, but a small camp had built up there with many children. For the next four hours it was anything but boring and quiet. The toilet was at the end of this carriage and so someone was always climbing over our feet and even the conductor stood painfully on my foot with his 130 kg.

But our suffering had not yet come to an end. In the train the air conditioning was not working and the windows could not be opened. It was suffocating. Thank God we were in the far north with temperatures of about 20 degrees and not in Greece with up to 40 degrees.

There was also nothing to buy, because in the restaurant car the electricity was also not working. We were very happy that we were carrying the half-empty bottle of water. Climbing up, once again the same drama with our heavy cases and the nightmare was over.

Without the Deutsche Bahn this blog would not exist, but for me it was the last journey with the Deutsche Bahn; the next time I’ll take my car.

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