On Wednesday afternoon I left for a conference in Berlin. By train. I had my active part on Saturday morning, so I didn’t have to worry about any delays. The train left on time. This is unusual, not a good omen. There was at least a switch disruption, a small delay, but I was half an hour late in Berlin, actually too punctual for railway conditions, the railway world wasn’t really in order again.
To be on the safe side, always take a look at the news over the next few days: Is rail union member Claus Weselsky going to make good on his strike threat this weekend? Reassuring non-news. Until Saturday afternoon, one train after the other to Munich was canceled. Mine too. Weselsky presumably innocent – snow like never before in southern Germany, the dream of every skier. Train riders have different needs. Alternatively, I was able to take a train to Zurich. The plan: change in Erfurt, continue to Nuremberg, then somehow head south, something will work out. Instead, according to the train app before Erfurt, there was information that nothing went south from Nuremberg. Google knew more, Munich main station was completely closed. Even official.
Options: Continue to Nuremberg, take a hotel there or continue to Fulda, then from there to Würzburg, spend the night with relatives and continue on Sunday. The latter was more attractive. However, shortly after Eisenach the train was pelted with stones. By whomever and why. A window splintered and had to be glued together. To do this, the train had to go to a station with a platform on the right side. Until then, it’s a snail’s pace, painfully long. Couldn’t they have thrown something at the next train? Saint St. Florian, please don’t get on my train? Well, that’s morally incorrect, deleted.
As a result, the ICE connections from Fulda to Würzburg were history. Remaining options: From Fulda to Schlüchtern, then change to Würzburg. Or continue to Hanau, then change to Würzburg. The choice was simple: Better to survive a train that might be canceled in Hanau than in Schlüchtern. So on to Hanau. The train to Würzburg was, but that no longer mattered, 45 minutes late. The rest went smoothly.
Sunday morning back to Würzburg main station: In the direction of Dachau, the regional train to Treuchtlingen was recommended, and from there another to Dachau. Wonderful, a good three hours, what more could you want. Looking at snowy winter landscapes from the train is a beautiful thing. The train to Treuchtlingen must have been an heirloom from the GDR. Broken doors, heating didn’t work for a long time, 1960s atmosphere, smell of apple peel. But he was punctual to the minute. As I said, this is not a good omen. The restoration of order in the railway world followed promptly: the connecting train did not go to Dachau as announced, but, surprisingly, “today only to Ingolstadt”. The tickets were checked for this, that’s how orderly it has to be. There was even a railway worker standing on the platform in Ingolstadt. However, when asked whether anything was still going to Dachau today, she only shrugged her shoulders in perplexity. The railway is not to blame for the bad weather, but it can be responsible for the poor handling of it.
What now? Back to Würzburg? Hotel in Ingolstadt? The decision came on the tracks: an ICE from Hamburg, one hour late, one of the few long-distance trains that were allowed to go to Munich again. According to the train app, the S-Bahn to Dachau didn’t run, nor did any other train, but the app offers a tram plus bus connection, just 53 minutes from Munich main station to Dachau. So get on the ICE. Others were already in, comfortable standing room until Munich. Another stop before Munich, some of the route was only passable on a single track. Then – finally: Munich is not Bielefeld, but really exists. I wasn’t completely sure anymore.
Pure chaos in Munich main station, a regional train that had been converted into a homeless shelter was standing on the Dachau platform. I took a look, a very drunk Dutchman who had lost his sense of time explained to me that he had been there for two days, there were no staff on the platforms, but there were long queues in front of the few information desks. But I had my tram. Except it didn’t drive. No tram was running. The train app just didn’t know. Not a big deal, the bus could also be reached via subway. And he drove. Even 5 minutes early, I was also 5 minutes early, everything was fine. From Dachau train station, another 20 minutes walk with my suitcase through the mud and I was home. 24 hours later than planned. Home, sweet home!
A train journey like this is one of the last adventures in Germany. Everything is uncertain. You get to know a lot of people and tell each other your travel biographies, you see how differently people deal with stress, you constantly have to make new decisions, you learn to improvise, you become humble and grateful for everything that doesn’t turn out to be worse than what is has already happened. What more do you want?