Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Berlin to Prague

It was the day 3 of my vacation and I was looking forward to the train journey from Berlin to Prague. Berlin Hbf is a huge station and it took us fair amount of time to locate our platform. I had booked tickets on bahn.com and found them to be much cheaper than booking at other sites like raileurope. Looks like these consolidators make a huge margin on train tickets. Plus you don't have to carry print outs, you just download the app on your smartphone and that's it!

We decided to buy some lunch from the station itself which turned out to be a wise decision. The train arrived on time but it took us forever to board our coach thanks to a large group from south east asia. They had created a big bottleneck in the middle of the coach with their luggage, thanks to the huge oversized suitcases - 2 per person!!! These EuroCity trains are not like Indian Railways which have space below the berths for luggage. With great difficulty we managed to board the train but it took us another 15 minutes to get to our seats.

After squeezing past them and their luggage we reached our seats only to find that there was no place for us or our bags. I talked to the members of the group that were part of the 6-seater coupe that we were in and made some space for our bags...but their luggage was lying everywhere - on the seats, in the space between the seats and outside in the aisle! It was crazy...there was no easy way for us to even use the rest room. Plus the aisles were crowded with folks who had tickets but no reservation, hence they were sitting on the floor wherever they could find space. I am glad that we had enough water on us and that we had bought our lunch at the station!

It was very interesting to note the snacks our co-travelers had brought for the journey...they were a bigger a group spread across the coach...first someone came down with pickled gherkins and then with some sausages. Then they had some strange chips...definitely not potato! Thankfully they didn't offer us these delicacies :)

Outside their oversized luggage and strange lunch, I found that they were a bunch of nice people who had planned a long Europe trip and overestimated the amount of clothes they would need in such hot weather. In spite of the language barrier I managed to find out that they would disembark at Dresden which meant that 2 hours of the journey would be a tad easier! However, the hot day and ineffective air conditioning didn't allow for that to happen.

By the time we reached Praha hln, we were exhausted - primarily due to the heat and inability to get refreshments from the pantry car. I did make one trip to the pantry car for coffee but there was so much hopping and jumping involved (to avoid arms and legs of folks lying on floor) that even when we ran out of water later on, we decided to stay put in our seats till the destination.

The hotel was walking distance from the station and we were delighted to have been upgraded to a suite! It was past 6 pm and even though sun was still shining outside, we decided to stay indoors and enjoy the air conditioned environment. Even the lady at the check-in counter made a comment about how hot the day was, when she said that we can either use the sauna in the gym or just step outside the hotel!!!

After the long hot tiring journey, we enjoyed the complementary happy hour at the hotel and retired early as I was feeling a bit under the weather.

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