Just for kicks, my German Train Story

New blog Huston Street Racing has started an excellent series regarding the case for rail transit in Indianapolis. In replying, I found my own post on my train trip to DC, and noticed that I mentioned I may eventually talk about my favorite train story from my trip to Germany in 2002. So, here it is:

I was in a group with 3 other people in Frankfurt. We went to the train station with the intention of traveling north through the Rhine Valley, with no particular destination in mind. The helpful ticket attendant recommended taking a train to the small town of Bingen (with a transfer in an even smaller town along the way), and then taking a tour boat up the Rhine to the mid-sized city of Koblenz. A bit extravagant for four 20-somethings, but what the heck…let’s do it.

We board the modern train and are on our way. We hear the stop for our transfer, and as the train comes to a stop, we mount our backpacks. In the time it took to put on the backpacks, however, the train had stopped, and started rolling again almost immediately. The train was leaving the station. We started freaking out a bit, and none of us knew much German outside of bratwurst, pretzels, and bier. We also didn’t have a good map with us and our next stop was basically unknown to us, but we resolved to get off the train there and deal with it when we alighted on the platform.

We arrive at the tiny station and this time we make sure to have our backpacks on before the train stops. We depart from the train. Almost immediately, my friend says “Bingen!”, and sure enough, across the platform there’s a modern train with the word “Bingen” prominently displayed on it. We board, and the rest of the trip went on without a hitch.

Just imagining this type of thing happening in the U.S. always brings a chuckle. At the moment, I would appreciate any improvements in our rail travel, but I doubt we’ll ever attain that level of efficiency.

Comments 2

  • My dad and I went to Germany and Belgium a couple years ago and had a very similar experience. Most of our time in Germany was in Berlin but on a whim we decided to take a day trip to Frankfurt am Oder and then walk across the bridge into Poland. We spent a week and never got into a 4-wheeled vehicle and yet managed to go all over. We took the train to Stuttgart and spent a night there. Then we got on the wrong train to Brussels in the morning, one that required a ticket above and beyond the Europass we had. No problem, we got off at the last stop in Germany and caught the next train to Brussels a couple hours later. From Brussels we easily took day trips to Brugge, Antwerp, etc.

    I would love to be able to hop a train to Chicago, Louisville, Cincinatti.. but I don't see that happening anytime soon. 🙁

  • I think everyone who has been to europe has a train story or two. We missed our 5:30am connection from Rome to the airport. We saw it pulling away and had to wait another half hour for the next one and barely made our flight back to the states. However, its nice to at least HAVE those options. I agree with Generik, it would be nice to have the options.

    Glad that my writing could bring your story back for a chuckle. 🙂

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