Travelling on trains through Europe is sometimes the easiest way to travel. You can get to about anywhere, and you don’t have to deal with extra baggage fees the airports charge. Of course a single train trip can cost the same amount as a plane flight! Using a rail pass that is good for multiple days makes train travel cost effective.
We started our trip in Frankfurt, as it was fairly cheap to fly into. After a nice dinner and an early night in, due to jet lag, we hopped onto our first train the next day. We were heading to a small town called Bogen, which required two transfers and should have taken about four hours.
The first train we took, we should have been on for three hours, and was quite full. We were about an hour into the trip when the conductor got to us. He had a lively conversation, in German, with the people in front of us, then stamped our tickets, and was on his way. About a half hour later, we approached one town, and the majority of the people started to get up. One kind soul asked us where we were going, and then informed us that this train was stopping in Nurnburg. People heading to the next Munich had to get off at the next stop, we could continue on to Nurnburg, and there catch a different train. Apparently someone was caught walking on the train tracks earlier in the morning. Nurnburg was not our transfer spot. We hopped off the train when we got there and found one that was going to our second destination, and grabbed that one. Unfortunately it was a regional and what should have been about a half hour trip took two hours. At the next stopped we jumped off, and discovered that the train we wanted was leaving in about two minutes. We barely managed to get our bags on it before it left! We made it to our destination about two hours late, but we made it!
Our race was on Saturday, and we wanted to head out on Sunday. Our plan was to try to make Lake Consatance, a beautiful lake on the Swiss German border, roughly half way to our next destination. Unfortunately we didn’t have internet access so we couldn’t plan our trip. Bogen was also the end of the line, and on Sundays a train left from Bogen every two hours. Our plan was to try and catch the 10:00 AM train, but between getting packed and finding a lift to Bogen, we didn’t get to Bogen until 3:30! We stopped at a small pizza place for lunch and then caught the train out of town at 4. It was only a short trip to the next town, where we figured we had more options. Our first thought was to get to Munich then find a train from there. We had two options, we could head north, or south. The map implied we could make a connection in either direction to Munich. We decided to head south, but we only had a few minutes. As we rushed down stairs we heard the train arrive. We figured we wouldn’t have enough time and discovered the train north was delayed. So we got onto the northbound train.
At the next destination, we looked at our options and figured that heading to Munich was still the right approach. About a half hour later was a train heading to Munich, and that got us there a little after 7:00 PM. We were making progress across Germany, but not very quickly. Our options were dwindling as it got later as well. We could only travel until midnight, and it can be hard to get a hotel room late at night. Again checking the map, it looked like we could get a connection to our destination in Ulm. A train left for Ulm about ten minutes after our arrival in Munich. Although the train was on the other side of the massive Munich train station, we made it on time. Shortly after getting on the train we found out all of the toilets were out of order, and there was no food or drinks on board! I had drank the last of my water on the previous train.
We pulled into Ulm just before 10:00 PM. We checked the schedule and didn’ t see anything going to our destination, or going in the direction of our destination until the next morning. So we decided to stop in Ulm for the night, and for the next day. But we were all thirsty and a little hungry, and Ulm as a large food court. But it was closing at 10:00 PM, and so we dined at the Burger King that was open until 2:00 AM. We also decided to stay at the Intercity Hotel which was above the train station. It was a little expensive, but worth the hassle of lugging our gear around trying to find a hotel.
Tomorrow we head to the next race, and that looks like it will be another 8 or so hours on the train with 3 or 4 connections! And it looks like we are getting up at 5:00 AM in the morning to catch a train. At least we just have to go downstairs.