If you are going from Copenhagen to Amsterdam and contemplating a rail journey, leave it till 2025. That is when there will be a direct trainline between Amsterdam and Copenhagen. Great news if you like choosing an alternative to flying between European cities.
Last month we took the train back from Copenhagen to the Netherlands, we won't be doing that any time soon. Copenhagen Central as pictured above is a lovely station with lovely people who help you when your train appears to be scheduled to leave about fifteen minutes later than scheduled. Sheer panic on this early Saturday morning when we couldn't see our train on the departure list...
But when we were reassured that it was our train leaving at 07:17 instead of 07:04, we could at ease amuse ourselves with watching all the party goers of the previous night. They slumped onto station benches until their train home would arrive. It was buzzing with people. Not what Wim and I had expected and once a beautiful coffee and breakfast and a seat for ourselves had been arranged, we could enjoy the buzz too.
Getting on the train was OK, though we nearly strained our backs getting our suitcases onto the racks above. We had booked window seats, much to the disdain of the four sour Swedes who accompanied us on our first haul to Hamburg. Soon after leaving we all got a complementary paper bag filled with a snack, a chocolate and a water bottle, setting false expectations for the rest of the journey. Luckily we had also bought our lunch at Copenhagen Central!
I hope I am not offending anyone but it's the German Railways that does my head in. Every single time there are major delays, platform changes and many uncertainties in the journey. If you take a direct line say from Amsterdam to Berlin, at least you don't have to change trains when you experience delay.
The journey to Hamburg was very pleasant although our accompanying Swedes kept giving us filthy looks for having the window seats (I think that was the reason). In Hamburg they scattered out of the train without even saying goodbye. But hey, we'd made our first leg of the way home.
To get on our second, we just had to find our patient spot and not get too confused about all the platform swaps with armies of people heading to and from platforms like toy soldiers. Our platform was changed a many times until five minutes for departure, it was back on the platform we had stuck to - I must say I would have joined the toy soldiers if Wim hadn't said to just stay put. Only thing was our carriage was on the opposite length of the platform and there was a stampede of suitcases, prams and people rolling towards us. We managed to get onto the best train in the world, the new ICE without too much damage and on time.
Best and worst
A change might be as good as a holiday but ending your completely relaxed vacation in Scandinavia with a lot of train changes is sheer hell. Especially because our train experience in Sweden had been so effortless as you can read in my blog about taking the train from Göteborg to Stockholm.
Our train from Hamburg to Osnabrück was the best train in the journey. It was on a direct line to Switzerland and I would not hesitate taking that train all the way as it was comfy, spacious and you didn't have to break your back throwing your suitcase overhead. Slots for suitcases among the seats provided even more rest and sense of space in our already calm compartment. Bliss! The chairs were extra comfy on this ICE train's first class and I would love to have travelled to Bern or Basel or wherever it was going there and then. Unfortunately we had to get out at Osnabrück, about three hours later.
The worst part of our journey was pre-empted by a voice through the intercom. The announcement said travellers to Amsterdam could not take their scheduled train at Osnabrück itself. We were directed to take a regional train to Rheine where the train to Amsterdam would be waiting to take us home. At least the train will be there, we said to each other. Right.
Again, I hope I am not offending anyone when I say that Osnabrück Station is, at the mildest, slightly unkempt... But the train to Rheine did leave on the another side of the platform, which saved us hauling our baggage up and down staircases as we had done on the way in. When we'd just got in our assigned train, a guy walking past the train grabbed me by the arm and said the train would be going nowhere. Really? That got that song of the Talking heads into my head for the rest of the journey. We got out again but luckily the train driver also walked past, telling us it was a special service so we could meet our train to Amsterdam. We got on again.
Getting a special train allocated nearly softened my heart towards the German Railways had it not been that after we arrived in Rheine, the scene changed for the worse again. We're on a road to nowhere. There was no train waiting. That was a bitter illusion. It took about three hours for our train to the Netherlands arrive and there was no communication about when or if that was going to happen so that when it did stop at the platform, we were almost taken by surprise.
This was our fourth train of the day, but this time we were all the more appreciative of our reserved seats in the crowded train. We had the luxury of sharing s compartment with two lovely ladies from Apeldoorn on their way back from Berlin, with whom we shared a very pleasant train ride without further major hassles. Bliss.
I would not recommend taking a train to Germany if it involves switching trains in Germany itself. But recently I read the best bit of news on NL Times: from 2025 there will be a direct line from Amsterdam to Copenhagen. It's part of a plan to get better rail connections between major European capitals. Seeing the earth is going to pieces, that will be a major improvement to flying or driving everywhere. Especially if they get those trains that are now going from Hamburg to Switzerland. Bliss!
Thank you for reading about our train experience. I'd love to hear back from you. Is there an especially beautiful, horrid or remarkable train journey you have taken. Let me know, to add a reaction you need to leave an email address but it does not get printed and I will not use it.