I have previously disclosed that I am a nervous flier. Correction; I used to be. These days I do not ever travel by planes. As a young girl I would board a plane and hated every minute of the flight; as an adult I refuse to fly. This makes traveling slightly complicated and cumbersome in some instances.
However, this post is not about the fear of flying, but about the first part of my recent trip, which I spend with the Irishman and my parents in Prague. I intend to dedicate the next five posts to my trip, which was wonderfully interesting, exciting and absolutely memorable, spend in a company of people that I love the most.
As much as I hate flying, I do love trains. Train travel is highly developed in Europe and the net of well organized and efficient tracks covers the whole of the continent. Crossing borders is easy and at times pretty uneventful. It is first after another voice speaking a new language comes streaming from the PA system that one realizes that a new state has been entered.
There is not a city, small or large that is not accessible by rail. In some instances, trains even board ferries and large ships to cross seas and there are impressive tunnels and bridges build all through Europe that will carry trains through mountains, and to islands across wide sounds. One of the best organized trains systems can be found in Germany (DB). The country owns a multitude of modern, high speed trains which travel with the average speed of 200km/h (125miles/h). And I am sure everyone is familiar with the TGV in France, which can take you from Paris to London in a mere duration of 4h. This is one example of many that shows that trains can in some cases travel faster then planes. Furthermore, the big advantage of train travel is that one is transported from the center of one city directly to the center of another city, cutting back on "to and from airport" travel, which can sometimes take hours.
I again traveled to Prague by train, as I have done a few times previously, where I was to spend a day with my parents, before meeting up with the Irishman.
I took a total of three trains and it took me about 15h to reach my destination. One of the many disadvantages of traveling alone by train is the fact that at all times I have to carry and guard my luggage. I am a high maintenance woman and a vacation of 14 days means tons of clothes and shoes to bring with me, plus the occasional gift for friends and family. Needles to say, I was pretty tired once I arrived.
However, except for the heavy luggage, train travel is a pleasure in every way. I love European train stations, which are organized and beautiful, bustling with travelers, holding a certain aura of adventure. Some are very old and preserved, with majestic waiting halls, while others are small and country like.
My first train brought me to Hamburg in north Germany. It was a gloomy, cold and rainy morning. The next stop was Berlin, one of the most beautiful and large train stations I have seen. Although I have spend a day in the city once some 20 years ago, I decided right then and there that I would love to return here for an extended period of time. Perhaps for a week, preferably with the Irishman who is fluent in German. I think the city is worth a visit on all accounts.
Finally, I boarded a Czech train, which would take me to Prague within 6h. That was the best part of the trip. The train was almost empty and I loved watching the passing landscape, while listening to the monotonous sound of the wheels against the tracks below. The clouds that have been following me the whole day slowly dispersed during the trip, revealing a magnificent sunset. The images captured me and inspired me to make a short movie clip below.
The train from Berlin to Prague travels through one of the most beautiful natural areas, particularly at the German-Czech border, where the tracks follow the river "Labe"(Elbe). It is difficult to take good pictures from a moving train, but I hope the few ones here can illustrate the beauty that can be found in this part of Europe.
As always, please click to enlarge.