Monday, 21 July 2014

An encounter with Deutsche Bahn (Frankfurt to Remagen) and a wee bike ride

At breakfast time, it is raining,
which is a good thing because it cooled yesterday's hot air noticeably,
and which is a bad thing because I'm travelling by bicycle today.

How to make your train station handicapped accessible !
When it comes time to head to the train station to catch the first of 3 trains that will take me to the city of Remagen, the rain has stopped.  I feel kind of sad leaving Walldorf. The combination of the Levantine hotel and the Thai restaurant around the corner was a good one ;-)

The ‘train station’ at Walldorf is a test of patience and strength.  No, there is no elevator or wheelchair accessible way of getting to the train platform.  A sad state of affairs.  But hey, if I
managed the viaduct in Morlaix with this bike, I will manage these stairs.

Small footprint bicycle transportation
My first change of trains happens at Niederrad.  There is an elevator.  Surprise:  The elevator is so small that the bike does not fit in the normal way. I have to rear it onto its rear wheel.  To get to the other platform where my next train will leave I repeat the procedure in a second elevator. 

Time to buy a train ticket.  I type in the destination (Mainz HBF) and no surprise:  the ticket would cost more than the sum of coins I have left.  I don’t think the machine would take 50 Euro notes (I never checked though), so I stick in my credit card.  And what does the !#$%#$%^%ing machine tell me?  It does not accept the same credit card that was happily accepted by a ticket machine at a city BUS stop in Switzerland 3 years ago.  OK. No coins, no credit card, no small bills.  I remember the Currywurst stand at the bottom of the train station.  I lock and leave the bike though; I’m not taking another one of those elevators with a bike.  

I get my Currywurst and my 10 Euro bills and buy my train ticket and only 5 minutes later hop on the train.  

The famous Currywurst mit Fritten

But: all the cars seemed to say No Bicycles
on the side, so I just pushed into the door marked No Bicycles that another cyclist came out of.  German Railways also has this lovely system where the side of the doors to exit the train seems to change with every station, so I get to move the bike from one side to the other all the time to allow people to exit and enter.
Then I get to Mainz.  I find the Ticket Centre and am flustered to see that I have to take a number. My number is 1209.  They are currently serving number 1181 and every number seems to take about 5 minutes.  You do the math.  Only half of the ticket vendor booths are occupied. In the old days everyone would make fun of Russia and Cuba because people had to stand in queues a lot there.  Anyone who has ever gone through immigration control at Vancouver airport or wanted to buy a train ticket in Mainz would probably agree that those two western countries have enough queues of their own. 
You can even find pictures on Google for this subject (not my pic)
Not my pic and not my Credit Card !!

Back I go to a ticket vending machine.  It accepts 20 Euro bills!  I buy my ticket and feel sorry for the mostly older people with their waiting numbers.   On the platform German teenagers are proving their coolness and might by smoking way outside of the designated smoking areas (rectangles of yellow lines, just like on BC Ferries; I wonder who copied it from whom) and also by burning plastic bags because no one seems to be notice their cigarette smoking (What’s the point of rebelling if no one pays attention? ;-). 
Now here is a train that DOES have proper bicycle bays ;-)  (Not mine, his one is going the other direction)

The train ride from Mainz to Remagen by slow train (stops at every single stop) leads through the picturesque Rhine valley (see last year’s River Boat Cruise (~July 16) for pictures; today’s weather is overcast and GRAY, so I’m not taking pictures, except for the following two).

The 2.5 hour train ride to Remagen gives me opportunity to do some work on one of several translation projects that await completion (why does this happen every time I take off?). 
A DB pic (NOT mine) of a train like the one that took me to Remagen. Very nice !

From Remagen, I cycle about 12 kms through the picturesque Ahr valley to Bad Neuenahr. Normally the Ahr is a tiny creek that one could almost cross with dry feet, but rain during recent days made it swell into a muddy torrent.  OK, maybe torrent is the wrong word, but the locals are very proud of their 'river' ;-)
A view over Muddy waters

Same valley, different view (~5 minutes later)


  1. You can buy DB ticket on the web or with a smartphone (the app is called DB Navigator or something like that). After lining up at the ticket center at FRA once, I always buy tickets online the day before I don't save much money when buying ticket the same day anyways

  2. Entirely correct!

    Note to self: Never again trust another Wind Mobile customer clerk assuring me that "Yes, this next time I'm sure that your smartphone will roam in Germany unlike the last time."

    2nd note to self: Next time just find the shortest train ride from Frankfurt to the French border and deal with SNCF ;-)