Saturday, August 24, 2013

Munich to Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

On the morning of August 23rd we headed to the Munich Hauptbahnof, with our travel plan carefully plotted using the Eurail Expedia app. We needed to hit the ticket office to reserve spots as some legs of the trip required it. The guy behind the counter said our route sucked, proposed a new one involving an apparently scenic tour of the Rhine, and booked it all up. This yielded us a three train sequence instead of train, train, bus and got us reserved first class spots on all trains for 16 EUR. The app he used to look for tickets beat the hell out of the Android app (which is good, just the agents one is better); lets get that available on Android!

The only downside to the new plan was a delay in departure so we wound up with a couple hours to kill at the Hauptbahnof. Luckily there was a Starbucks with both power and free wifi so it wasn't too rough.

Upon boarding the train we discovered our reserved seats were occupied, seemingly by people with a reservation for the same train, wagon, and seats! After a bit of chaos it was determined their reservation, although requested for the 23rd, had been made for the 21st by the ticket agent so we got our seats :)

Chris invested 5 EUR in paid wifi, which worked nicely near Munich. Unfortunately as we got further away it degraded to near useless for anything beyond viewing lightweight sites. No using the blogger editor! An attempt to speedtest it went somewhat poorly: it loaded but never got beyond the selecting server by ping stage. Not impressive for a paid service. At roughly this point it was announced the rails were obstructed by fire (?!) so we were backtracking and re-routing. Shortly thereafter we backed up for a while then stopped.

We reached Frankfurt 90 minutes late, which meant we'd missed our connection. They booked us onto two *more* trains, this time an ICE Frankfurt => Kulblenz, then a regional to Luxembourg. Not as much fun as our all first class booked route as regional s have no reservation.

The ICE to Kulblenz contained people who felt they had reserved our seats again, this time because they were confused about ICE 26 vs wagon 26. No problem. Then our train managed to arrive late to Kulblenz, helpfully causing us to miss the train to Luxembourg. No problem, take a later regional from Kulblenz to Trier, then another regional from Trier to Luxembourg. This plan allowed 6 minutes to switch trains in Trier, and arrive at around 10 pm. The train from Kulblenz to Trier departed 3 minutes late. It was a double-decker, a first for both of us. By about the third stop we estimated we were 5+ minutes late. The ticket checker confirmed we were running about 7 minutes behind, which seemed to bode poorly for a 6 minute connection window until he said he'd call ahead and have the Trier => Luxembourg train wait. We relaxed a little but retained crossed fingers.

At Trier it turned out our next train was right across from us so we ran aboard, once again to the upper deck. Arriving in Luxembourg at night is a bit odd; it has few city lights visible from the train so you don't feel like you have entered a city at all.

In case I made the trip sound horrible, it's worth mentioning that the route from Frankfurt to Kulblenz spends a good bit of time following the Rhine, which is covered with towns and castles on the hills overlooking the river, basically forming a long series of postcard worthy views that are hard to photograph with direct sun hitting your unopennable window that hasn't recently been washed. The double decker to Trier also spends time on the waterside but in the dark with curved windows with interior light causing massive reflections

Even the Kulblenz station has a castle!

A double decker car. And some regional train luxury. Nothing to an ICE first class seat!

Finally we arrived in Luxembourg, only to discover the City Hotel had provided us with an in-room AC unit that primarily served to produce VERY loud noises and vibrations. The night manager agreed this was unusable - "you cannot sleep veez zees" - and provided a fan. Sadly the fan wasn't quite up to the job so we spent a rather sleepless night in a very hot room. On the positive side the beds and pillows were way better than the ones in Munich, the shower had good pressure, and the internet was both free and decent. Unlike Munich and it's pay-only internets ... grumble mumble grumble.

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