Thoughts on a Train Ride to Prague

We’re about an hour outside of Dresden as I’m writing this on the train. I feel okay to use my computer because there is a power outlet at every seat station, which means I can happily type for the next 3 1/2 hours as we wind south through the Germany countryside.

I’ll say this: when it comes to travel, Americans have absolutely no idea what they are doing. My friend Adam Pennenberg happened to be in Berlin at the same time. Although we didn’t get a chance to meet, I did get to read his Facebook status update about Continental. Apparently, the seats were cramped. The service bad. The smell awful.

Americans will recognize this phenomenon as simply flying.

The train is such a rational, beautiful trip, although I suspect that speaks more to my native Appalachian-ness than anything. I doubt my friends from the more cultured coast would find the 12-hour rolling trek through the flatlands of Germany (or Indy-Ohio as I continually refer to it) anything more than a novelty. Something to be enjoyed maybe once or twice.

I’m already sad that I have booked flights to England from here. When I come back, I’ll be navigating Europe entirely by train.

The stations are immaculate by American standards of cleanliness as well, at least compared to my experiences in San Francisco, New York City and Boston. It’s not that the American stations are dirty. Within the last decade, I’ve had more than pleasant experiences trailing my rail in the states. But the German Train Stations are like small cities.

For instance: the station at Friedrichstrasse spirals down 5 floors into the ground, each level complete with its own Apotheke, clothing stories, Dunkin Donuts and all manners of travel gear. You could simply show up at the station with nothing but the clothes on your back and within 30 minutes have clothes, travel gear, breakfast and packed food for the entire trip.

On any floor.

Even boarding is more civilized. Certainly there are modern conveniences such as pre-printed boarding tickets. But like you see in the movies, you simply take your seat on the train and shortly into the trip, the porter (for lack of the German word) comes through and stamps your ticket.

No lines. No waiting. No distrust.

I have no idea what happens if you don’t have a ticket and try to ride (although with the punks and squatters in Berlin, I’m quite sure this happens on a regular basis). I’m not particularly inclined to ask. I hear you face a hefty fine. I am under the impression that in Germany — at least Berlin’s Germany — there are two cultures that exist: the Berliners and the punks. One society of law-abiding citizens and one of folks who exist, mostly unabated, in anarchy. (Although the question is this: if the law pays no attention to your shenanigans, are you anarchistic or simply boorish?)

In other words, the German Berliners seems entirely…Midwestern.

That said, the itinerary for the tri. One thing that I just find completely fascinating about German travel: the time. Please take note that at no point do we stop for more than 2 minutes. When the train pulls in, you’d better be ready to go.

Without further ado, our trip to Prague in 7 parts:

City Arrives Departs km
Berlin Hbf   10.54 7
Berlin Sudkruez   11.00 0
Dresden Hbf 12.58 13.10 40
Bad Schandau 13.36 13.38 22
Decinhl.n 13.53 13.55 23
Usti nad Labem hl.n. 14.12 14.14 103
Praha-Holesovice 15.18    
3 comments
Brad_King
Brad_King

The German transportation systems is amazing. Although to put this into perspective, John (my writing partner who I am visiting) told me the story of a Swiss friend. This friend came to town and complained bitterly about the lack of promptness in German trains. Apparently the people known for making watches are sticklers for, you know, every second. So it's all a matter of perspective. But -- in this endeavor Anna -- I have to agree with you. Although I'm also looking forward to returning to the lush green of England (at least where I am staying), time charts be damned.

Brad_King
Brad_King

The German transportation systems is amazing. Although to put this into perspective, John (my writing partner who I am visiting) told me the story of a Swiss friend. This friend came to town and complained bitterly about the lack of promptness in German trains. Apparently the people known for making watches are sticklers for, you know, every second. So it's all a matter of perspective. But -- in this endeavor Anna -- I have to agree with you. Although I'm also looking forward to returning to the lush green of England (at least where I am staying), time charts be damned.

Anna
Anna

I <3 German transportation. And not just in Germany. Their model permeates Austria and Switzerland. Trains are clean, they are always on time and they wait for no slacker. Italy is a completely different story. Beautiful country, but the trains are NEVER on time, they always stop for entirely to long at each station and they are dirty and smelly. After traveling in Italy for 2 weeks, I couldn't get back to the German way of life fast enough. Timeliness and cleanliness make me feel happy :)