Touring Germany at 190 km/hr

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK to MUNICH, GERMANY — Monday morning in Copenhagen and we awoke again to clouds and drizzle. Not to be discouraged, however, for we knew that sunny Munich was just a mere 12-hour train ride away.

Copenhagen train stationAfter breakfast at the Saga, we dragged our cargo of three suitcases, two backpacks, a laptop bag and camera the short block to the train station — by now its multitude of cafes, convenience stores and money exchanges were well known to us.

After finding our train and loading up our luggage, we sat back and prepared for the trip ahead. That is, until about two minutes to departure when a mad scramble occurred and everyone was jumping the train at the last moment. I managed to get some info out of a young German chap, who said they were changing the train car for Hamburg, our connecting destination.

Re-lugging our baggage and racing down the platform, we made it onto the correct train just as it started off. Truly, a 300-meter sprint with 100+ pounds of luggage on your back puts even the strongest espresso to shame.

Baltic sea ferry

Finally settled in, we dreamily watched the flat, wet landscape of Denmark roll past. By around 11 o’clock, we saw the bleak outline of the Baltic sea begin to crop up on either side. Apparently, in order to cross the straight into Germany, the whole train needed to board a ferry for a 45-minute sail. It was amazing to watch the multi-ton, high-speed train just chug itself onto the boat along with the other cars and passengers.

Truly, “ferry” does not give the boat enough credit. It was more like a small cruise ship — complete with restaurants, shopping malls and even a gaming arcade. It seemed as if everyone was eager to take advantage of the suddenly cheaper prices of goods sold in Euros rather the incredibly overpriced Danish Kroner.

By the afternoon, we had touched down into Germany and were rolling past the coast and into Hamburg. Due to various delays, the train arrived at the bright, stadium-style Hauptbahnhof nearly twenty minutes late, giving us just a few minutes to make our connection to Munich. Another mad dash to the train would not have been an issue if we hadn’t planned to meet my friend Nora and cousin Cristoph — both of whom are studying in Hamburg — for a quick coffee before heading on.

Of course, the delay turned our visit instead into a few quick words, as they walked us to the other platform. It was unfortunate not to have more time with them, but wonderful that they were the first smiling faces we met, welcoming us to Germany. Another — hopefully lengthier — trip to Hamburg is certainly in our future.

Back aboard, we set off for the ride along the length of Germany. Although the train cut through the countryside at 190 km/hr, the hours seemed to tick by slowly. We kept ourselves busy with biers from the cafe car and watching the tiny towns and changing scenery fly by. About halfway to Nurnberg, as the flat farmlands began to change to rolling hills and forest, the sun made its first triumphant appearance since we had set foot on the continent. It was a good sign for the future and that, along with a couple more Franziskaner, made the rest of the trip go down a bit more smoothly.

After a couple more hiccups and watching the sun set over the Alpine foothills, we finally made it into the vast Muechner Hauptbahnhof at around 10 o’clock. Cousins Jakob and Darcy met us at the station along with my uncle Johannes. Extra hands to help with baggage and car ride home was exactly what these travel-weary expats were looking for. Safe, hungry and road-worn, we were happy to finally arrive in our new home and settle in for the future.

No more trains or flights for the foreseeable future, Gott sei Dank. Biergartens, ahoy!

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