“Quer durch das Land, mit der Deutschen Bahn”
Sunday, March 20, 2011.
My birthday trip in Germany is about to end. For the last couple of days, I’ve been in the capital Berlin to see a few friends. Now, I’ve got to go all the way back across the country to Frankfurt Central Station, and from the city center to the airport to catch my evening Iberia-flight to Madrid. As I’ve done this cross-country trip so many times before, I’m not worried at all about finding my way.
After a very late night (of processing photos and catching up on e-mail messages), I drag myself to Berlin Central Station in time to catch the late-morning InterCity-Express (ICE) train to Frankfurt am Main. With their train schedules online, I’ve had for weeks information from Deutsche Bahn about specific trains I can take on any given day, and from which departure platform I need to be to catch any of those trains.
To arrive in Frankfurt with time to spare, I’ve chosen ICE 599, departing Berlin Central Station from platform 13 at 1134am. Stops include Berlin-Spandau, Braunschweig, Hildesheim, Göttingen, Kassel-Wilhelmshöhe, Fulda, and Hanau. I’ve been using a RailEurope German Rail pass in first-class for the extra room, less crowded cars, and a quieter environment in which to relax.
On this sunny Sunday afternoon, I realize I’m marking the start of northern spring with a cross-section view of a very green and hilly part of the land. This route really does cut through the heart of the country.
The tracks wind their way through the landscape – in and out of tunnels, over bridges, along river valleys. There are meadows, rolling hills, pretty little towns, and several wind farms. There’s a lot of greenery out that train window.
I feel at ease and “at home” in this country. Even though I don’t live here any more, frequent trips have left their imprint – the trains, the cities, the stations, and the scenery – they all feel as familiar to me today as they did eight years ago.
The hours pass comfortably, the scenery keeps company, and thoughts of my departure are brought forward, closer to becoming real.
Over the public address system, an announcement is made, as the train is about to arrive in Frankfurt.
… In wenigen Minuten erreichen wir Frankfurt am Main Hauptbahnhof. Wir verabschieden uns von allen Reisenden und wünschen Ihnen noch eine schöne Weiterfahrt. Sehnk juu vohr träwelink vif Deutsche Bahn: goodbye!
From Frankfurt Central Station, there are some options to reach Frankfurt International Airport.
You can take a taxi from the city centre, but that’ll set you back at least 30 Euros – I’ve had to do this a number of times for an early morning flight out from Frankfurt.
Yet another alternative is found at ground-level within Frankfurt Central Station. You can look for another InterCity-Express train with a stop at the airport, or you can march straight onto platform 20, where regional train RE80 departs for Koblenz and makes a stop at the airport. On the platform is a display showing a map of airport terminals 1 and 2, as well as a listing of airlines serving the airport.
With my Germany rail-pass, I don’t pay an extra cent, I don’t have to stand in line, and I don’t have to search for a ticket-machine. On a given day stamped in my rail-pass, I can travel during that day on any Deutsche Bahn train throughout the country, including any city’s S-Bahn.
The one-way fare on the train between Frankfurt Central Station and the airport is about 4 Euros. Without a rail-pass, I would have had to purchase a ticket from one of the vending machines throughout the station. With the trip lasting 10 to 15 minutes, S-Bahn and regional trains stop at the airport’s regional train station (Regionalbahnhof), next to Terminal 1.
I’ve made my way across the airport to Terminal 2 for my Iberia flight, and I’m now standing in one of the many concourses, waiting in line to go through passport control. Over four hours ago, I was on the other side of the country, having said goodbyes to friends and to familiar landmarks in the capital city of Berlin.
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