Amsterdam, Netherlands Sat. 29 Aug. 2009. I was in Germany for a few days for vacation and was trying to figure out how to get back home to Houston, TX. So I decided on taking the train from Hannover to Amsterdam. I don’t plan too far ahead as you know, as it is more fun to figure out how I will get home after I arrive at my destination. I usually have some idea, but never sure of the final routing.
As is usual, I travel by the seat of my pants and almost always do everything at the last minute. I had done some research on the Deutsche Bahn web site at http://www.bahn.de (http://www.bahn.de/international/view/en/index.shtml – English version) earlier in the week, but it was only for intra-Germany travel.
I went up to a kiosk at the train station in Hannover, Germany and selected my destination. When I typed in “AMS,” “Amsterdam” was one of the choices, but I did not see any breakdown of Amsterdam Central and Amsterdam Schipol. Anyway, I continued the transaction by selecting Amsterdam.
The display showed different fares, 104.80 EUR, 156 EUR (using the ICE train) and one really great fare for 49 EUR (69 EUR for First Class). This fare had to be purchased by the end of today. Of course I selected the 49 EUR. It was a 4:21 journey with a departure of 18:40 and an arrival of 23:01 at Amsterdam Central. This is like flying from Houston, TX to say, Vancouver, BC Canada, except on a train. The 49 EUR is a good fare for taking the train from Hannover to Amsterdam.
I then cancelled the transaction and went to the ticket counter since I really wanted to get to Amsterdam Schipol and did not see a way to do that on the kiosk. The lady, who knew English, was able to help me accomplish this for the same price. The only difference was that there was no train change as the IC140 terminates at Amsterdam Schipol.
I opted not to buy the ticket then as I wanted to check out accommodations in Amsterdam Schipol first. However, I was unable to check that out (lack of Internet access), so later that day, I bought the ticket using the kiosk which meant that I had to take the IC140 and connect to the IC1578 at Hilversum, Netherlands arriving into Amsterdam Central at 23:01. This was not the plan, but I figured I could just stay on the IC140 at Hilversum and make my way to Amsterdam Schipol without any issues. Final cost for taking the train from Hannover to Amsterdam was 51 EUR as there is a 2 EUR charge to make the seat reservation on the IC140.
Saturday rolled around and I arrived via a regional train at the Hannover station at 13:28 (1:28p). I made my way to platform 12 where an ICE train was waiting. I knew that my train was an IC train, so I asked the Deutsche Bahn lady when the IC140 train to Amsterdam was expected. She said it would be the next train on this platform. The current train was going to Cologne and Hamburg. You don’t really want to take the wrong train as it may take you hours to get back on track. I saw a guy run up and got on the delayed train, I hope he was not supposed to be taking the train from Hannover to Amsterdam.
Sure enough a few minutes later, the IC140 showed up. Lots of people got on the train and took their seats. I really needed to use the restroom, so I waited to take my seat. This took a while as I had to wait for the toilet to be free so it was not until the train got underway that I got relief.
By the time I got to my seat, a lady had moved in. As she saw me approach and looking for my seat number, she got up and went back to her seat. I did notice that next to the seat numbers, there was the origin and destination of the person in that seat, nifty I thought; now I know where everyone is going. When taking the train from Hannover to Amsterdam a reservation is required, so I had a separate ticket with the train car and my seat numbers printed on it.
After I put my stuff away (placing my roller bag in front and across from me for visibility), I looked around the car trying to determine who are these people and where are they going. There seemed to be a group of about six girls, well ladies, a lady and two younger girls, an older gentleman, the lady who had taken my seat, a twenty something guy traveling alone and a forty something couple just behind me on the left.
I settled in, got out some reading material and started reading. I did not really bother with the computers as the power was low and there were no available plugs at my seat. Maybe there was in First class for that extra 20 EUR.
As we progressed to Amsterdam, it was fantastic to see the rolling German country side; people living their lives as we roll through it. What was very noticeable is that almost every train station had an old building next to it. I wished I could stop at each station and explore them. This was quite fascinating to me and I did manage to get a few pictures as well.
At some point, I got tired of sitting and went for a walk through the train. These trains need TVs or some form of entertainment I thought. I saw people were reading, playing video games, eating, using their computers, looking out the windows, sleeping and just plain sitting there. On my walk, I noticed a screen that gave us a status of our location, the next station, etc. At (20:02) 8:02p it showed our speed was 141km/h!
I did also check out the restaurant car as I had a bottle of wine, but had no glass or cup from which to drink it. The wait staff happily gave me a cup when I requested one. As an aside, wine in East Germany is dirt cheap. I paid 2.99 EUR for the bottle of Australian chardonnay. Beer is about 0.55 EUR per bottle and the bottles are pretty tall.
I also had some bread and grapes that I’d bought earlier that day. This served as dinner as I did not feel like buying anything from the onboard restaurant.
Back at my seat, I noticed that people kept getting up each time the train stopped and reappearing once the train was again on its way. So at the next stop I decided that I had to figure out what was going on. As it turns out, this was Bad Bentheim, the last stop in Germany.
We arrived there at 20:34 (8:34p) and when I went outside the train, I noticed that everyone was smoking. Aha, this was the reason for them leaving the train and returning at each stop. I also noticed two Immigration Officers walking by as well.
Once I got back on the train, an announcement was made that there is a change in crew (we now had a Dutch crew). Soon after, the two Immigration officers I had seen earlier came by and checked our passports.
Once we made the first stop in the Netherlands, Hengelo, we got new passengers on the train. It was quite busy at that hour of the night. When we pulled into another station, it started raining quite a bit. By now, the makeup of my train had changed. A few of the original passengers had departed and the train was almost at seating capacity.
At 23:12, we pulled into Amsterdam Schipol. I was a little tardy getting off the train and almost got locked in as the crew was closing the door. It was great taking the train from Hannover to Amsterdam.
Have you had a fun train journey? Leave a comment about it please.
Here are some pictures from the trip: