Change / Day 45 of 64 / 23 June
Time to leave Denmark and make my way to Berlin! My first task of the day was to activate my Eurail Pass at Copenhagen Central Station [Københavns Hovedbanegård]. I activated the pass at the ticket counter at around 10am, and with that, I could now officially board any train in Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, and France without having to pay for a ticket.
My original plan to Berlin.
Of course, there are several restrictions to the Eurail Pass. Firstly, when the pass is purchased, you have to select the number of travel days you want. A travel day allows you to travel on an unlimited number of trains in a single day in the countries your pass is valid for. The catch is that even a single short train ride consumes an entire travel day: so, save the travel days for longer routes. Secondly, some routes, especially high-speed routes, require all passengers, including pass holders, to reserve a seat. This means that pass holders will need to pay an additional reservation fee for rides in these routes. Thankfully, the official Eurail app, “Rail Planner”, features a route planner that can plan a route without reservations. But, this likely means that travel times will be longer because travel will be on slower regional trains, instead of high-speed trains. And, without a reservation, there is a chance that you might end up standing on board a regional train for quite a distance. However, from my experience, most regional trains feature plenty of seats on board for all passengers.
Anyway, the first leg of my convoluted journey to Berlin was a train ride from Copenhagen to the Danish town of Fredericia (IC 51045, eurail.com, Eurail Pass), and the train left Copenhagen at 10.52am.
We reached Fredericia at around 12.40pm, and I rushed to board my train for the next leg: Fredericia to the German town of Flensburg (IC 5736, eurail.com, Eurail Pass) and it departed Fredericia Station at 12.46pm.
At around 2.10pm, we arrived at Flensburg Station. Yet again, I had to rush to board the next train from Flensburg to Hamburg (RE 7, eurail.com, Eurail Pass). I boarded the train and we left for Hamburg at 2.15pm.
We arrived at Hamburg Central Station [Hamburg Hauptbahnhof] at around 4.15pm. At this point, I was hungry and sick of changing trains. Since I skipped breakfast, I had not had anything to eat since dinner last night. I decided to have a short break at Hamburg Hbf, and instead of taking the 4.36pm train to Berlin, I would wait for the 5.35pm train instead. This would give me some time to eat and have a smoke break.
While I was smoking, a man asked me for spare change. Like most people would, I smiled and politely said no. After a while, he moved on to the next couple standing next to me. They didn’t even acknowledge his presence and after a while he gave up. He then went on to a group of children. A child immediately dug into his pockets and put some loose change into his cup. A child. He so readily gave to the man something that he himself definitely did not have a lot of. Feeling a bit of guilt stirring in me, I reached into my pocket and pulled out some coins I had, walked over to the man, and put the cons into his cup. How often is it that those in the greatest position to share are always the least willing. I couldn’t shake that thought and the feelings that washed over me.
At 5.30pm, I boarded the train for the last leg of my journey to Berlin (ICE 697, eurail.com, Eurail Pass). The train arrived at Berlin Central Station [Berlin Hauptbahnhof] at 7.25pm, and I was officially in the German capital. Finally.
The ultra modern Berlin Hbf.
Unfortunately for me, and my aching feet, the hostel was some distance away from Berlin Hbf. I had to take the U-Bahn (metro) and S-Bahn (commuter rail) to reach my hostel. Luckily, ticketing for the Berlin public transport system is simple. Most of Berlin is located within Zones A & B, and the cheapest single trip ticket covers travel in these two zones. A single trip ticket, once validated, is valid for 2 hours and on all modes of transport, but travel must be away from the point of validation. This means that one ticket cannot be used to make a return trip to the station that a journey begins act: a separate ticket will need to be bought for return. Also, simply buying a ticket does not render it valid, instead, the ticket must be validated at a validation machine which are found at stops or platforms. However, this does mean that you can purchase tickets in advance and validate them for use only when you need to, saving yourself the possibility of getting stuck in a queue at a ticketing machine.
The Berlin S-Bahn (above) and U-Bahn (below).
I finally reached my hostel (Metropol Hostel Berlin, 36 SGD/night) at 8.15pm. Time for a rest. My feet, shoulders, and back hurt so bad. Upright train seats are not comfy no matter how elaborately upholstered they are.