Cologne at last

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After all the frustrations and stresses in boarding our train from Copenhagen we had a beautiful and interesting train ride to Cologne. It was a 5 hour journey and we enjoyed a variety of weather and scenery.

Travelling south,it was fascinating to watch how the land changed from mountains to flat fields. Norway and Sweden were beautiful in their mountainous splendour while Copenhagen was totally flat and this type of terrain is what we admired all the way to Hamburg. All of these countries are made up of a combination of islands and inland areas and yet the public transport systems are able to meet all areas due to innovative engineering.

Scenery from Copenhagen to HamburgScenery from Copenhagen to HamburgI remind you of the funicular in Bergen where small stations with parking areas have been developed on the mountainside to assist residents in getting into town. Previously we had a short ride across a fjord where the train was transported on a ferry. We were to experience this again en route to Cologne as well.Scenery between Copenhagen and HamburgA factory between Copenhagen and Hamburg

After 2½ hours we reached the southern border of Denmark which is on the Fehrmanbelt, a strait linking the Bay of Kiel and the Bay of Mecklenburg in the Baltic Sea. With effect from May 2016, the building of a tunnel for both rail and car vehicular traffic. The weather had been changing gradually from a fairly clear day to cold and grey and very windy. In a way, I felt a bit sorry for the smokers as they had to be out on deck while taking that essential puff.

We were quite aware of the smoking restrictions as it would seem that South Africa (SA) is pretty advanced in this area. Gone are the days when people congregated around office entrances dropping stompies. That was SA 5 years ago. Smoking in any area where there are other people who may be affected is now banned and consideration is being given to banning smoking cars in which children are being transported. Very difficult to police but it is so nice to know that one does not book a restaurant table in smoking or non-smoking anymore, as an example.

Once the train left the ferry we were in Germany and the first thing we noticed was the number and size of the wind farms. There were a few in Denmark but in Germany they were in abundance – anything from 2 to 15 in a field. Further on, instead of windmills, there were fields of solar panels. South Africa is definitely behind in this technology when compared with a country which has probably half the amount of sunshine.

At Hamburg we had to change trains to go to Cologne. As our train had arrived on time we had 20 minutes to catch the connection. While on the train from Copenhagen, I had been taking some photos of the scenery. Instead of placing the camera in the back pack or over my shoulder as it had been previously, I had hung it on the armrest between the seats. It was only as we were about to board the train for Cologne that I realised that I had left it there. I was so cross with myself as now we had lost a number of photos of the 1st half of our trip. Luckily, Trevor had the i-Phone and had taken many photos and those are the ones that I have used for these blogs.

Not long after leaving Hamburg it began snowing and continued for a little over an hour. It looked really beautiful but, according to a lady who boarded at one of the stations, it had surprised the residents who had expected clear weather all day. She said that she had not expected to walk to the station in ankle-deep snow!

The balance of the journey was uneventful although, somehow, we arrived 20 minutes late in Cologne. The driver made many apologies especially to those who had missed or would have minimal time to catch connecting trains. So much for German precision.

Before leaving the station, we decided to reserve our seats to travel to Lyon and to report the loss of my camera to the Lost & Found Division. When we asked to make the reservations, the attendant told us that, as we would be travelling on a French train, the German office could not make the booking. She printed out a suggested timetable for us and we arranged to take it to the French Railway Office in the morning. This is all part of the new security regulations. As will be explained in more detail in another article.

It was not quite as simple as going to the Reservations Office. They told me that they could not take any information from me but that I had to put the information on the German Rail internet system and wait for a response. It would stay on their web page for 4 weeks and if the camera was located I would be informed. Sadly, I have had no further contact from the Railway so I have to assume that whoever found it decided to keep it. We have been paid out the insurance but have lost the photographs – BUT there are lots of wonderful images in our minds never to be forgotten.

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