… I whipped out my computer and promised myself I would write a blog entry before I transfer trains in Karlsruhe.
First off, I have to rave about the trains (like every other American tourist). They’re incredible – and a lot of fun (for me, anyways). Thanks to this Munich trip, I’m getting to ride my first high-speed Inter-City Express (ICE) train.
I have no concept of how to judge how fast we’re traveling. I think we’re passing cars on the Autobahn that I see in the distance, though. And seeing as there’s no speed limit on the Autobahn, I take it that we’re going pretty fast.
A lot of things stand out about the trains here:
- They are impeccably on time. Five minutes late for an inter-city train here is really late. A train I took in Switzerland once was 15 minutes late (a regional train, so different standards), but people were still visibly upset.
- Because everything is so punctual, and train stations are smaller than airports (though sometimes mazes in their own right), connection times are often just 5-15 minutes. I have only 7 minutes in Karlsruhe. It makes a one-hour airport layover seem like a joke.
- They’re quiet. It’s actually creepy how quiet this superfast train is. Surprisingly, though, it creates another problem. You can hear everyone else on the train. People talking, babies crying, businessmen typing, music leaking out of headphones (some kids really enjoy blowing out their eardrums) – there’s no ambient noise to drown any of it out.
- Train stations are surprisingly dangerous. Cargo trains often charge through the station at 50+ mph – one small step in the wrong direction or a little ignorance could be life-threatening. All you get for a warning is a quick announcement in German and an “Achtung durchfahrt!” message on the platform signage. But that’s not much, especially if you don’t understand German.
(Note: since the beginning of this entry, we’ve picked up speed like crazy. Wow. I guess I do have a concept of how fast we’re going.)
Next entry: Munich!