There was a time when I loved traveling by Deutsche Bahn. I took a train to travel whenever I could. But then, I owned my first car. And trains didn’t play a role in my travel plans anymore. Very soon, I forgot about the countless hours I had spent waiting on platforms, about the delays and connecting trains missed by seconds – and all the stories everyone can tell who has tried to catch a train. Germans have a very special relationship to traveling with Deutsche Bahn. It is negative in most aspects.
But while everybody was complaining all the time, I always took sides for the company. I like traveling by train. There is hardly any means of transportation that allows such a beautiful view. The landscape at the sides of the tracks is much more beautiful than that from an Autobahn. Plus, it is much more diversified than the view from a plane. I never used much of my time on a train to read. I always loved the images of nature flying right past me as in a movie. And I realized that this was exactly what I had missed since I had stopped traveling by train.
It took me some time to convince S. of the necessity to take the train for our weekend trip to Amsterdam. The announced strike of the Lufthansa pilots played into my hands. I should get what I wanted. The view on the Upper Rhine Valley in bloom and on the pancake flat Netherlands would have convinced anyone that train travel is the ultimate form of travel. If it hadn’t been for the return journey.
In retrospect we should have taken the car. Two and a half days after our wonderful journey to Amsterdam, the Bahn took revenge on me, my boundless trust in its schedule and my costiveness. I had booked an IC train for that journey, instead of the ICE train we had taken at first, and that forced me to change trains three times. Which is a risk – but there’s a good chance nothing goes wrong. That is if you don’t care if it does.
Some kilometers from Eindhoven, we noticed that the connection we had booked only existed in theory. This was when we first had to leave our train and get into a bus that would take us to a train station at the other side of Eindhoven. From there, we had to get on a train to Eindhoven Central Station to catch a bus to Venlo. Needless to say we did not catch our connecting train there. Nor the next one. Three changes of trains later, we had finally arrived in our (supposedly) last train. As there was only one station to go we were pretty positive that there wouldn’t be any other disturbances. But, oh well, don’t halloo till you’re out of the wood. On this evening, our train did not stop in Mainz because somebody was threatening to commit suicide on the tracks. The train was redirected. We just passed our final destination. And when we finally got off the train, there were two more bus rides to endure.
This evening, I was at the end of my tether. I hated the Deutsche Bahn from the bottom of my heart and I swore to never, ever, set foot in a train again. Well, not soon anyway…
Foto von Robert Schöller