I’ve written some posts about the environmental benefits of train travel, but haven’t really touched the thoughts and experiences that we get during travels by train. Yes, the point is to get from A to B, but I’m not sure everyone has thought about the time “on the road” as such a big part of the overall experience of the travel. After a bunch of train travels over the past years, I’ve teached myself how to appreciate those hours gliding through a wide variety of landscapes, on my way to B.
A year ago, travelling by the regional train in Norway for over three hours felt wasted. But then, as I joined the Green Youth of Norway, and took the night-time train to Oslo for the first time this March, I felt like I had discovered a whole new world of travel. Before that, I had only taken regional trains in Germany (they’re called Regio or ICE), and was amazed by how fast they went from one city to another. The German Regio is like a normal regional train and the ICE is short for Intercity Express, so that kind of explains how you can travel from Hamburg to Munich in about six hours with the ICE (that’s one of the longest regional train distances in Germany). Nevertheless, if you know just a bit about both Germany and Norway, you probably know that their geography is quite different. Germany does have the Alps in the South, but hey, Norway’s popped with mountains and hills all over. The train use a longer time from A to B in Norway, than in Germany.
As I took that night-time train in Norway when we had this yearly congress, I spent eight and a half hours travelling this route from Stavanger to Oslo:
It’s not that far if you look at the air distance, but due to the fact the train is built around the south and not straight over (mountains), it takes remarably more time to travel the distance than it would with an ICE straight over. Problem? To do the ICE solution you need about a hundred long tunnels. So I figured; why not take this train, I’ll sleep, after all.
I was lucky that first time on the night-time train, because the train wasn’t that full of passengers, and I therefore got two seats to myself. Two seats VS one seat when sleeping is priceless. I’m only 165 cm tall, which means I can curl up to lie down at two train seats. Quite practical, actually. I slept for about six hours, waking now and then, and peering out the big, clear windows. That is one point why the travelling at night is priceless; to look out at towns, farms, forests and cities drift past in the dark. I love to travel at night, and I’m that type of person who insist of choosing the train or plane that leave as early as possible. When I awoke at around 6:30AM the following day, I felt “at home with travellers” as I like to call it. All the people on the train were awakening, brushing teeth, drinking water and coffee, and getting ready for a new day.
I’ve taken the regional train in Norway several times after that, both night-time and day-time. I love the feeling of sitting in a comfortable seat, see the landscapes drift by, reading a good book and drinking a cup of tea. Preferably after a long and active day, due to the fact that I’ll be sitting there for seven to eight hours. I find it cosy to go to the cafè wagoon for a meal, even though the food there isn’t exactly cheap. It’s something about the travel experience; buying an apple and a greek yoghurt and flipping out the foldable table attaced to the seat in front of one is not something I do every day, and thus it’s a nice variation to a kitchen table or coffee table.
Even though I’ve gotten used to the Norwegian train travels, I’m looking very much forward to move to Germany in some years for my studies, and take Regios and ICE to get from place to place, as well as all other that I love about Germany. The train stations are also amazing! I love the buzzing of crowds filing through, picking up food at one of the sandwich bars and buying a ticket that will take me hundreds of kilometers.
Now, enjoy and reflect over some of the travel by train photos I’ve taken over the past year:
At the Munich Hauptbahnhof (main station) October 2013:
At the Berlin Hauptbahnhof (many people and lots to do here!) On my way to Dresden here April 2014.
Me posing with a mountain of Ritter Sport-chocolates (it’s a commercial-sculpture) at the Berlin Hauptbahnhof. I don’t eat much chocolate, but I liked the sculpture, April 2014.
Arriving Oslo an early morning in June 2014.