Posts from the ‘Europe’ category

Weimar UNESCO WHS: Duchess Anna Amalia Library

Fotoeins Friday: Weimar, Bauhaus, and UNESCO

Surviving the latest Deutsche Bahn strike

In Germany, I am neither first-time visitor nor a permanent resident.

In this interesting middle-ground, having traveled in and around the country every year since 2001 means gaining knowledge and some handle of the language, whether it’s reading the signage or speaking to people to get some help.

As of writing (20 May 2015), the GDL locomotive drivers’ union have struck for the 9th time in the last 11 months. The present strike does not yet have an announced stop date (which is new), but will likely match or exceed the recent 5-day stoppage in early May, which at that time was the longest in Deutsche Bahn’s 21 year history. A significant fraction of the full passenger- and freight-capacity has been affected. In the German capital city of Berlin, regional trains and S-Bahn trains are affected (reduced), whereas the city’s bus, tram, and U-Bahn networks remain in full operation.

Bahn strike, Bahnstreik, Cancelled trains, Dresden Hauptbahnhof, Germany, fotoeins.com

Signage indicating cancelled train service between Dresden Hbf and Frankfurt Airport, 22 April 2015

Online updates (in German) of Deutsche Bahn’s train service:

•   FAQ on ARD Tagesschau
•   @DB_Info: Deutsche Bahn information on Twitter
•   bahn.de
•   bahn.de/aktuell
•   bahn.de/p/view/home/info/streik_gdl_150519.shtml

From the latter link, there are two “buttons” to note:

Live-Auskunft (“live information”) : a dynamic link providing an overview of trains traveling along your specified route; cancelled trains are not shown.

Reiseauskunft (“trip information”) : a dynamic link providing a schedule of trains traveling along your specified route, which will show cancelled trains (red ‘x’) and possible alternatives.

From a day-to-day standpoint, I have used both links to check what was and was not available for my desired route, providing valuable information for advance planning.

Additional words to recognize are:

•   Ersatzfahrplan: makeshift operating schedule
•   fällt heute aus: cancelled today
•   Fernverkehr, Nahverkehr: long-distance transport, regional transport
•   Halt entfällt: stop cancelled
•   Verspätung: delay

During the 5-day long strike (5 to 10 May) and despite a significant fraction of train routes cancelled, I was fortunate I needed only to travel from Berlin to the cities of Bielefeld and Frankfurt am Main. The following graphic shows what routes remained in operation and to what frequencies (if any) these routes ran.

DBahn strike 2015May

Operating & affected long-distance trains: Deutsche Bahn drivers’ strike, Apr/May 2015. Click here for full PDF.

Regular hourly trains (thickest solid colour line) ran between Berlin and Düsseldorf and between Berlin to Köln. Other trains ran every two hours (thin solid colour line), every four hours (long-dashed colour line), or only one train the entire day (dotted colour line). It meant for some “interesting” change-of-trains, service delays, and for others, a very long day on the train. During this last strike some minimum level service was maintained with a train “approximately” every two hours among the country’s five largest cities: Frankfurt, Köln, München, Hamburg, and Berlin.

But that was then, and this is now.

The graphic above shows the makeshift operating model over the last couple of strikes in late-April and early-May. There’s no guarantee these routes and services (or frequencies) will be maintained in the present strike, which means keeping abreast of service updates (re. Live-Auskunft, Reiseauskunft).

Mandatory requirements or my wishful requests, whichever you prefer:

•   patience and understanding for your fellow travelers,
•   sense of adventure and a very good sense of humour.

But these are characteristics we all think we should have and practice, OR?

I had advantage of having a general familiarity with the country, and being able to read and speak some German. I took the strike in stride, and I didn’t panic into buying a ticket on a long-distance bus service, although for a few moments I admit sweating out a few of the details along the way. During the early-May strike, I traveled from Berlin to Bielefeld just fine, but Berlin to Frankfurt was a bit of an adventure on a fully packed train.

Good luck!


Update: 0130h CEST, 22 May

The rail strike ends 21 May with Deutsche Bahn and the GDL union going into arbitration and a period to continue mediated negotiations. Regional service should be back to nominal operation by 22 May, and long-distance service to nominal operation by this (Pentecost holiday) weekend 23/24 May. Full S-Bahn service in Berlin is scheduled for 22 May.

•   Tagesschau article, in German







Berlin Hauptbahnhof

Berlin Hauptbahnhof, 2 May 2015

No Connection, Unpaid, My Own Opinions Disclosure: No Connection, Unpaid, My Own Opinions. I am not affiliated with and have no material connections with Deutsche Bahn (cmp.ly/0). This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-6Mn.

Erfurt: an instant walk back in time

Erfurt is located near the geographic centre of Germany, and is called the “Rome of Thuringia” for the number of church steeples in the city. Even if being in the middle depends on how borders, especially post-reunification borders, are defined, there are five towns vying for the title “Mittelpunkt Deutschlands” (Germany’s centre), depending upon the technique used to determine where the centre might be.

But Erfurt’s been at the “centre of action” for centuries, in the midst of the “Via Regia” (royal road) dating centuries back to the heyday of the Holy Roman Empire, traditional woad (blue-dye) production, the movement of trade and people along the east-west transeuropean highway, religious pilgrims back and forth and beyond to Santiago de Compostela, Martin Luther stopping by to give an update on the Reformation, and even, Bach’s parents getting married here in town.

It’s easy to overlook Erfurt, but giving this city a chance allows it to sneak up on you. The following Instagram shots provide reasons why you should embrace the sneaky bits.


The non-descript signs seem to follow me east-to-west in Erfurt: from Wenigemarkt across the Krämerbrücke to Benediktsplatz; to Fischmarkt, Marktstrasse, and onto Domplatz. The "Via Regia" (Royal Highway) represents one of the oldest and longest roads and trade routes linking western and eastern Europe. While origins go back to at least the 8th century, the "strata regia" got its first recorded mention in the 12th century. The Via Regia was a vital east-west trade route through the Holy Roman Empire, connecting Erfurt, a base for woad production, to the rest of Europe. Over time, historical and religious connections have helped define the road to a length of over 4000 km (2500 mi) across at least 8 present-day nations to places as far west as Santiago de Compostela in Spain; east to Wrocław and Kraków in Poland; and even out to Moskva. "Via Regia" became the Council of Europe's "European Culture Route" in 2005. Marktstrasse near Domplatz, Erfurt, Germany – 26 Apr 2015. #joingermantradition #erfurt #thueringen #thuringia #historicgermany #viaregia

A photo posted by Henry Lee (@fotoeins) on

cmp.ly customI made the photos above 26 and 29 April 2015. I’m very grateful to Germany Tourism, Thüringen Tourismus, and the Erfurt Tourism and Marketing Board for supporting and providing access to places and activities. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-6LM.

Fotoeins Friday: Morning light on Erfurt’s Merchants’ Bridge

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