Europe Summer 2016 – Garmisch-Partenkirchen to Berlin

This post is written by Katie about her day taking slower trains from Garmisch-Partenkirchen to Berlin on the way to her flight out of Copenhagen.

I woke up at 8am this morning, packed up my belongings, and headed to the train station to catch the 9:07am regional bahn (RB) to Munich.

Hostel 2962-Garmisch worked out fine – and had great mountain views from the balconies – but is certainly one of the simplest hostels I have stayed at. There were only two lockers in the five bed room – neither became free during my stay. There were only three power plugs in the room – some extension plugs would go a long way. The bedding was comfortable enough, but the mattress was terrible (my back hurt both nights) and the bunk beds were shaky and loud (meaning I would wake up whenever the guy below me moved). The door to the room closed loudly. There were only two shared showers and four shared toilets in the entire three-floor hostel. Since some of the rooms seemed to have bathrooms and showers, this was generally fine – but I did have to hunt around for both a shower and a toilet on multiple occasions. The sinks in most of the bathrooms were excessively small. On the positive side, the staff were reasonably friendly (although not around much in the evenings, which is to be expected since check-in closes at 6pm). Considering that I found no other budget options in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, it worked.

Views from the Garmisch-Partenkirchen train station

I arrived at the Garmisch-Partenkirchen train station about 20 minutes early and used the time to enjoy my last views of the mountains (for this trip, anyway). The regional bahn (RB) train arrived about 8 minutes early, so I boarded. The train was about half full leaving Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

Seats on the regional bahn from Garmisch-Partenkirchen to Munich

The RB train really filled within a few stops of leaving Garmisch-Partenkirchen. A large group of various school-aged kids boarded the train at the stop after Garmisch-Partenkirchen – this made the car rather loud. The train was standing room only by the time we reached Munich.

Single seats on the Alex train from Munich to Hof

At Munich Hbf I had a quick transfer from track 31 to 26. The Alex train was already waiting at track 26, so I boarded. I was surprised that despite boarding 10 minutes early the train was already over half full in the double-story car. The other cars seemed like they had 6-seat cabins, while the double-story car was composed of open cabin seating. I was able to snag one of the last 1-1 rows in the mostly 2-2 car. Considering that the train did not seem to have luggage racks and the overhead racks were too small to hold a backpack or suitcase of any size, this seat worked well because it had a luggage area between the seat and the window. I settled in here for about 3.5 hours from Munich to Hof. Unfortunately, although the seat was comfortable, there were no power outlets on this train.

From Munich to Regensburg, there were very few open seats. A group of about 10 college-aged Germans made the area between the first and second story into a party area. They had a speaker playing music, chatted loudly, and laughed even louder. They seemed to be having a great time, but they were clearly annoying the other passengers.

Most of the passengers exited at Regensburg, and new passengers filled in. But the car was only 75% full at best, and slowly thinned out as we traveled towards Hof.

The Ex Regional train waiting for departure in Hof

At Hof, I easily transfered from the Alex train to an Ex regional train. This train departed from track 1b, which really just meant it was way to one end of track 1. This train was a short train composed of two cars. The rear car said it was only going to a city mid-way to Leipzig, so I sat in the front car which said it was going to Leipzig. In the end, both cars went to Leipzig.

The Ex regional train also had no power ports, and the seats were rather uncomfortable. As seems to be the trend today, this train was pretty full for much of its journey. Looking out the window, the areas serviced by this train seemed to be in decline, as many buildings were shuttered and/or splattered with graffiti.

After 2.5 hours on the Ex regional train, we reached Leipzig Hbf on time. It was strange going back through Leipzig Hbf, since last time I transited through there I was on my way to RoboCup 2016. So much has happened since then!

Intercity train from Leipzig to Berlin

There was little time to be nostalgic though, as I had just 9 minutes to connect to an intercity train to Berlin Hbf. I made the connection with no issues, but found the furthest 2nd class car about half full when I arrived. At least this train had more comfortable seats and power – and I was only on it for 75 minutes! The train generally became less full as it approached Berlin, but some people did board at intermediate stops.

My bunk at Generator Prenzlauer Berg

Once at Berlin Hbf I checked Google Maps to see what S-bahn or train options existed to Generator Prenzlauer Berg. I ended up taking two different lines for a total trip of 25 minutes. The hostel was a couple minutes walk from the Landsberger Allee S-bahn exit.

All in all, it was a beautiful day all across Germany today, with pretty blue skies to accent the passing scenery. Amazingly, every train was on time and I easily made all three of my connections (Munich Hbf, Hof Hbf, and Leipzig Hbf). I probably got ticket checked 8 times today. I had a mobile ticket through the DB app. 3 times they scanned the QR code, two times they swiped my ‘ID’ credit card, once they looked at my ‘ID’ credit card, and about 5 times they wanted to see my Bahn 25 card. You would think the Bahn 25 card would be tied to my account – or at least be tied after it was scanned the first time today – and you would also think that less identification would be needed on subsequent QR scans. It seems to be a very subjective system for verifying tickets.

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