Deutsche Bahn

D & D: Den Haag and Duisburg

It’s amazing how long a weekend feels when you leave your comfort zone and routines and just take things as they come.

Back in February, I finally decided to visit some friends I knew from childhood, and with whom I coincidentally shared a city in 2014-2015 in Hamburg. I also wanted to visit some friends of the family who were partially responsible for helping me get to Hamburg for the study-abroad. I booked the tickets on a late night, being able to take advantage of some sales-prices and my DB BahnCard25, and before I knew it, travel day had arrived. Of course, the main goal of the trip was to reconnect and have good times, but I also got to see some pretty impressive cities while I was at it.


First stop: Den Haag. It took a while to get there, though. The trip I had planned to Den Haag Centraal was with only one change. I ended up taking 5 trains and one bus due to a technical failure in Bad Bentheim, but miraculously, I only ended up arriving two hours later planned, so it turned out to be alright.

And what a sight awaited me. To be honest, I always thought of Den Haag, or the Hague, as it is otherwise known, as a nice little coastal town of the type one sees in England. Little houses, small cafes, no high rises… The city blew my expectations away. Sure, there’s a whole beach district with absolutely beautiful, wild dunes (upon which the city was originally built, in fact) and wild Scottish cows running about freely.

But it quickly became apparent to me that I’d ended up in the 3rd largest city in the Netherlands and one of the world cities of Europe.

I also had a few reminders that Holland still, in fact, has a monarchy. Sure, one doesn’t hear about them as much as the British monarchs, but they’re there, and their palaces in Den Haag are always nicely taken care of. I’m actually not totally clear about politics in the Netherlands. It’s a parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy, but unlike the UK where devolution happens yielding power to the nations, the UK has provinces…yeah. This isn’t a politics class though, so that’s where I’ll leave it.

But I can’t say enough about the architecture, both interiors and exteriors. The city is over 600 years old, but like many major cities in Europe, it has learned to feature the old and new right next to each other. I mean, just check out the skylight in the H & M building below (for those who don’t know, H & M is a low-end designer label). It is clear that Den Haag has a rich architectural history, with a lot of modern designs and no fear of experimentation.

However, I think the part I liked most, other than seeing my friends again, was seeing a beach in winter. It has a beauty all of its own. Coming from Florida, I’ve never had the opportunity to see the coast covered in snow and icy tide pools.

My friend and I had a very cold walk on the beach, and she told me about the way that whole buildings are set up on the beach in the summer for all the people who visit. They’re taken down in winter, but one could just see how people were slowly getting the containers on the beach, opened and ready to set things up again.

As one can see, Den Haag alone would have been enough for the entire weekend, or longer. But I had to leave less than 24 hours later to make it to Duisburg. I had a half-hour delay there, too (I mean, what is it with the Deutsche Bahn lately? Or is it just whenever I ride it? Maybe it was just winter), but I made it easily enough.

I’d been to Duisburg a lot when I was younger, at one point even spending two weeks there to do an internship with the President of the Federation of German-American Clubs (who is also one of the family friends I mentioned), but I didn’t realize the city’s social, economic, or historical significance at the time. I mean, it’s the WORLD’s biggest inland port. It was responsible for a lot of the commerce of North-Rhine Westphalia. It’s also an old city, dating to the Middle Ages, and was a court of the Frankish Kingdom, but a lot has been done lately in the city to make it interesting and a “happening” place.

Unfortunately, I had just as little time in Duisburg as in Den Haag, and I didn’t even get to take photos, but I just wanted to mention it, to put it on the map for many American readers. It’s not far from Dusseldorf Airport, so even a day-trip there before flying on is well-worth it. It helps to have friends living in cool places, though. I’m glad they were willing to let me dirty sheets for only one night.

Hopefully this post doesn’t come off as too flat. I was actually planning to write and explain a lot more, but I’m running out of time. I wanted to post it before it becomes irrelevant. And if anything, there’s pictures!

Cheers! -Dorothea


Transportation within Germany

I spent some time a while back expounding on the transportation options within cities in Germany. Stockerkahn rides in Tubingen are just another option.

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I love these colors. Of course, Stockerkahn is really only available in Tuebingen, but it’s use for mobility justifies inserting it into this post

However, now I want to devote a few words to the options for traveling between cities in the country.

Until a few years ago, the Deutsche Bahn held the monopoly on long-distance travel throughout Germany. This meant that things like organized carpool (made more possible by social media nowadays) and trek busses were not authorized. Instead, one could choose between riding, driving, or flying… of which riding the train was most usually the least expensive and most convenient option. Virtually every city is connected by train in Germany, and most small villages (literally one-road towns in the rural areas of Germany) are within a half-hour bus ride to a train station. However, with the expiration of the Reichsbahn came the introduction of “Fernbussen,” often much less expensive than the rail tickets. With different lines in competition like Meinfernbus, Flixbus (now joined with meinfernbus), Postbus, Berlinbuslinien and others, whose rates can be compared at, the prices range from 8-30 Euro for trips from Hamburg to Berlin or Hamburg to Munich.

However, riding with the rails can be inexpensive too if one times it right and is able to take advantage of special deals. For example, most standard trips have savings-prices (Sparpreise) that can make a trip that usually costs more than 100 Euro cost 29 or 49. There are also “Laendertickets” that are valid for travel for five people within the German Land. This ticket is most practical if you’re traveling with others and don’t mind using the Regional Bahn, as opposed to the famously speedy ICE. It’’s a nifty ticket if you’re also planning a day-trip somewhere within the Land, since it works for the entire day, including return trip. If you want to travel with multiple people throughout Germany, there is the “Queer Durchs Land” that costs a base amount, and then a small up charge per added person on the card. This ticket also makes the most sense when one has a group one is traveling with and wants to travel through more than one Land via RE.

Finally, there are the discount cards one can apply for. Costing upwards of a hundred Euro, the Bahncard 25 and 50, priced respectively and awarding discounts of 25% or 50% are a good investment if you plan to take multiple trips throughout the year and would like to take advantage of the quicker trains like the IC and the ICE.

Having traveled throughout Germany a decent amount now, I can’t say that I favor rail lines over bus lines, but traveling individually, the bus may be more comfortable (especially since it often has free Wifi and adjustable seats). On the other hand, trips mit der Bahn and with multiple people provides a good deal of memorable experiences. The landscape views are also usually much better on routes accessible by train alone…

The scenic Rhine Valley train line in Germany runs between Koblenz and Mainz and offers views like these. If your #Eurail pass is valid for Germany, you can also use it on this track!: Europe, Eurail Pass, Valley Training, Offering View, Charms Riverside, Rhine Valley, German Wine, Valley Route, Charms Town