Just boarding the train

Today I will write about the next leg of our journey, leaving the Scandinavian states after a wonderful 2 weeks.

All the places we visited were clean and well organised. Whenever we needed to make various changes to our travel and hotel facilities, this was always done with courtesy and good service. Their train services are not nearly as frequent or extensive as those of Europe but they were clean and comfortable.

I thought that I would give a fairly detailed account of the difficulties and frustrations we experienced just getting to board our train this morning, 3 January 2016. The reason for this approach is that my website is mainly directed to senior citizens and have more difficulty in finding where we need to be and are a bit slower in getting there. This was rather obvious this morning. Facts of life, I am afraid.

Probably our biggest issue with all 3 Scandinavian countries we visited was their limited offerings for the Eurail Pass. Thus we incurred some extra expenses paying bus & tram fares. We had become accustomed to having used it in the European countries where the Eurail Pass may be used on all forms of public transport. In Scandinavia it could only be used on the national train services – Norwegian Railways (NSB), Swedish Rail (SJ AB) and Danish Railways (DSB) - (except for Sweden where it was accepted on the trams). We did not travel in Finland at all but were informed that it would have been the same there too. There is a central Scandinavian Rail (SR) as well and each country has its own Pass and these can be used on the SR as well.

Scandinavian trainA Scandinavian Rail train (photo by Eurail)Swe

With that little bit of general knowledge on how to travel by rail in these countries I will continue with our experience boarding a train to go across to Cologne, Germany for the next 2 nights. Once we had checked out of the hotel we walked to the station. We were disappointed to find that there were no fruit traders on the station concourse as we had planned to purchase some for our lunch. When we reached our departure platform a surprise awaited us.

As usual we had reserved seats in a specific coach and for this train it was coach no. 28, so we expected a fairly long train but this one was very long. The escalator which we had to take down to the platform was very full as was the platform itself and there were still 20 minutes to departure. We could not see either the front or back of the train it was so long. Thus we had no idea which way to go to look for our coach. Unlike, as found on some European countries’ station platforms, there was no diagram of the train showing where the coaches were in relation to the blocked areas of the platform. It was no good asking other passengers either as they were too busy trying to find their own coach. Push and shove seemed to be the order of the exercise.

Luckily, we went in the right direction on the first try. The coach numbering began with 17 but not every no. was used making Coach 28 the 7th one we got to and those coaches are pretty long. Why some numbers are not used making it impossible simply to count to your coach without having to search for the number on each coach is an enigma. Also, for some coaches, there is a single door which also goes to an adjoining coach.

In the melee of boarding the coach we turned left into coach 27 instead of right into 28 not realising that it was not all one coach. Turning round and working our way back was an achievement in itself. Being rather older than many of the passengers, there seemed to be dozens of children, and with everybody only considering their own needs, it was in fact positively irritating. We finally found our seats with 5 minutes to departure. Another unrelated comment here is that in general we found Scandinavian and European people concerned only with themselves and display few of the politeness and good manners to which we are accustomed, though I think that this too is changing in South Africa.


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About Me

I was born into the early part of the Baby Boomer generation, the 3rd of what came to be a family of 6 daughters. Although both our parents, who are now deceased, had been raised in rural Natal (now KwaZulu-Natal) and the 2 eldest daughters were born in a country town, the other 4 of us were all born at home in Durban. Read More

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