Europe Summer 2016 – Hamburg to Copenhagen

This post is written by Katie about her journey from Hamburg to Copenhagen via train and ferry.

This morning I slept in until 9:30am.  With late checkout at 1pm, I started laundry (6, paid last night) and then sat in the ‘Chill Out’ zone and worked on my laptop while waiting for the laundry to first wash and then dry.  I took the risk of drying my clothing on ‘warm’ for the maximum one hour because I really wanted them to completely dry.  They did completely dry, and didn’t look noticeably shrunk.

While waiting on laundry, I called American Airlines to get my Finnair record locater.  I then used this to select seats online.  I was able to select seats before check-in as a OneWorld Sapphire or higher, but I found I was able to select Economy Comfort seats for free as a OneWorld Emerald.  Since I’m reviewing this flight for The Points Guy, I emailed the editors to see if they would want me to sit in Economy Comfort or normal Economy – they told me to go with Economy Comfort.  Yay!  After dealing with seat selection for my return flights, I planned my time in Copenhagen and worked on blogging.

Late checkout tag on my bed

Once my clothing finished drying, I took my clean clothing up to my room and started packing it away.  The cleaning staff came in and were visually irritated to see that I had a late check-out tag.  After grumbling audibly about not being able to turn my bed yet, they changed two of the other beds and cleaned the bathrooms before slamming the door as they left.  I get that they don’t get any extra money for having to deal with my late checkout – but throwing an obvious fit about it is childish.  I also have the impression that if I hadn’t been there when they entered, they likely would have tossed my stuff aside and changed the bed anyway (despite the late checkout tag on my bed).

I hauled the bags – two robot bags and two person bags – to Hamburg Hbf with plenty of time to spare.

I checked out of my Generator Hamburg dorm at 12:40pm and walked over to Hamburg Hbf.  My ICE train was departing at 1:28pm, but since I had my luggage plus two robot bags I figured arriving early wouldn’t be a bad idea.  I arrived at track 6, checked the train diagram to see where my assigned wagon 21 would be arriving, and then went to sit near the E area where wagon 21 would arrive.  Since Hamburg was ICE 35’s initial departure point, it arrived empty about 20 minutes before departure.  I boarded the train and was happy to see that my 16 seat was in the last car was in a small 8-seat quiet area at the far rear of the train.  I settled in and got my laptop out to blog before departure.

The little 8 seat ‘quiet’ cabin.  The space behind the seats was perfect for the robot bags.

When I booked this ticket, there were very few reservable seats left – and a seat reservation was mandatory for a small section of the journey.  I selected the only window seat, which ended up being in the last car of what perhaps the smallest ICE train ever – just four wagons!  I liked the small 8-seat cabin, and it was convenient that I could put the robot bags behind seats 12 and 14 in a small alcove between the seats and the door.  My only complaint would be that my seat was a bit tight with the wall butting up against the side of my seat.  Surprisingly, when we departed Hamburg Hbf, only three seats in my 8-seat area were occupied.

Ticket check was done after leaving Hamburg Hbf and then again once we were in Denmark.  Both times, the conductor only needed to scan the QR tag on my phone – neither asked for my Bahn 25 card or my credit card ‘identification’.

Interestingly, three plain clothes German immigration officials came through the train after we left Lubeck. One – who showed an official looking badge – asked questions while the other two observed. They asked about my luggage, where I was coming from, how long I was in Hamburg, whether I had anything to declare, and whether I had any drugs or weapons. They seemed concerned about the amount of luggage I was carrying and asked for my passport. They flipped through it, stopping to examine my China and Brazil visas in detail. After flipping through it, they said everything was okay and moved onward.

The ICE train actually rode on rails onto the ferry!

I was surprised when the conductor came onto the speaker system and announced that we needed to exit the train once it boarded the ferry.  I had no idea that we were going on a ferry, much less that they would be driving the train onto the ferry!  Indeed, the train tracks continued right onto the ferry and we drove onto the ferry alongside cars and trucks.  This explains why the ICE train only had four cars!

Lunch on the ferry (plus a beer I had bought at a grocery store in Hamburg)

Once we were parked on the ferry, everyone had to leave the train.  It was supposedly locked during the ferry journey.  After climbing through two stories of parking decks, I emerged into a hallway that looked part cruise ship part airport duty free store.  I saw signs for a cafeteria though – and since I had not had any substantial food yet today, this sounded very good.  I ordered a hot dog and fries – which were cheaper than just about any other option at 7.77€.  The ferry took both € and DKK – but I clearly only had €s.

The upper deck was crowded but provided nice views.

I somewhat regretted my decision to immediately get food instead of watching the departure – but at least the food was good!  After finishing my food, I went to the upper deck to sightsee.  There were wind farms in the distance, sea gulls following our ferry, and lots of people enjoying the open air.

Everyone hurried into the parking decks even before we docked.  This left me with the upper deck mostly to myself for a few minutes.

Even before we docked, everyone quickly filed into the parking levels.  I was amazed how quickly the train departed after the ferry docked – perhaps only a few minutes after I reboarded the train.

Upon reboarding, I noticed a loud beeping coming from the rear cockpit in my cabin. After about an hour of the beeping, someone from the train staff finally came to investigate (but the beeping continued for the remainder of the train ride).  This was mildly annoying.

The train stopped shortly after leaving the ferry at a small station.  At this station, Danish police entered the wagons for passport check.  They quickly looked at just the photo page of my passport, and asked no questions of anyone in my cabin.

The train became rather crowded as it traveled through Denmark.  My little cabin was isolated – and even had two empty seats – but the rest of the train was standing room only. Many people were standing and sitting between cars.  It looked rather uncomfortable when I wandered through the train at one point.

The ICE train in Copenhagen

We managed to make up lost time in Denmark, and ended up arriving at Copenhagen’s main station on time.  Once in the station, I struggled to orient myself and then drag my belongings plus two robot bags to my nearby hostel, Urban House Copenhagen.

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