I spent a little time with the German Railway operator this week by travelling from Mainz to Dusseldorf and from Hamburg to Berlin.
The first of these two trips follows the route of the old trip from Frankfurt Airport to Koln, which parallels the Rhine for much of the journey and provides spectacular views of the villages, castles along this stretch of the river. Several years ago, the scenic route was replaced by a high speed and direct service. In the old days, there were special sightseeing trains which had LH flight numbers and could be booked as if they were flights. I first did this in 1986, and a few times after that. There was a special guide explaining what to see at each point on the trip and a commentary in several languages. More information about the section can be found at – http://www.bargaintraveleurope.com/tours/Follow_Rhine_River_By_Rail_Pass.htm
I paid EUR59 for a First Class Window Seat at dbahn.de. The site is available in multiple languages and accepts credit cards billed outside Germany. You can print your own ticket which you present (with the credit card) to the conductor on the train.
The train itself was not very new but the seats were fine for the two hour journey:
I am afraid my pictures did not come out too well with the combination of reflection from the lights and the foggy/low cloud weather we had for most of the journey. Here are a couple of better ones:
And of course the Hyatt I didn’t get to stay at, from the train as it crosses the Rhine in Koln:
The journey was uneventful, but did remind me of two lessons when travelling on the train in Germany:
(1) Go to the platform a little early and locate the sign that looks like this – it shows where each carriage will stop, under the large letters along the platform. Prevents having to run as your carriage goes past:
The high-tech red string shows where the sign (and therefore you) are on the platform. Yellow = First Class, Green = Standard and Red is the Dining Car.
(2) Keep an eye on the signs as the destination can change just as the train arrives. I have to say that, unlike the UK, German Railways do seem to have the ability to plan properly and so if a train is changed to another platform, it is usually the one next to the one where it should have been. Preventing a mad dash of dozens of people to some distant platform:
Both trains arrived on time at their destinations. Also worth remembering that some train stations have DB Lounge’s which you can use if you have a first class ticket and whilst no luxury, are warmer than a wind swept platform.