Dom’s train quest.2 : 2 homes, 1 European Union adventure – Part 2 – From Berlin to Cologne (ICE 650)

DB train

I was surprised to discover that we arrived on time to Berlin. I am not get used to Polish Railways to be on time.

Arriving to the Berlin Hbf

Anyway, I had 90 minutes to explore both stations, but first I needed to find information to ask where is a Berlin Hbf (Tief) as I was on Berlin Hbf (Yes, you can laugh now, but my brain doesn’t work without coffee after 3 hours of sleep). The people in the information was confused, so I told them I need to catch ICE650 and then they told me this train departs from platform 5 and it is downstairs on the low-level station (or in German .. Tief 🙂 ). I learn two things:

  1. Tief means a low, deep or low-level platform.
  2. I need coffee to add fuel for my brain, so it can stop asking stupid questions.

I go to the conclusion that I need to buy coffee and breakfast now, but before I can do it I needed to deal with my the urge to go to the toilet to dump some waste. The problem was you need to pay 50 euro cents to access toilet. I can polish and British currency but no Euro. I decided to buy coffee from the German branded place, but I couldn’t find it, but I saw Costa, so I went there and bought Latte I ask staff how I can get to the toilet if I don’t have Euro. It turns out if you buy coffee you can get token to the bathroom for free:).

German Costa Coffee

After top up my body with energy and drop a waste, I walk around to explore amazing looking modern station. The Berlin Hauptbahnhof was open in 2006 (there was another station nearby in the past). It is a multi-level station with a glass roof. I love this design because it allows natural light to reach even to an underground platform.
It is an excellent place for trainspotters.

Anyway, while I was exploring, I discover that DB has a first class lounge and I wanted to explore it but it turns out is not available for people using rail passes :(.

I decided to buy breakfast on station as I was a bit peckish. I bought sandwich and prezel.

On half an hour before departure, I went to the platform to discover that my train will be late 5 minutes. I was shocked that German trains can be delayed. 5 minutes late? As Londoner I was outraged and I complained about it on social media 🙂 . I thought it looks like DB is like PKP. Spoiler alert! It turns out; I can predict the future.

Luckily, these 5 minutes of delays were well spent as I need to figure out where my carriage will stop. My ticket told me that my seat is in coach 37 (how many carriages this train have? ) so let’s check the departure board. The train is split into Section A to G.(Or in fact C to A and D to G) I have a number they displayed characters… I think I am too stupid to use trains in Germany:). As it turns out, there is a way decode German way to explain simple thing in a complicated way. You need check board where you can map carriage number with the section where this carriage will stop.

Luckily, all this time was wasted as my train arrived at a different platform in the wrong formation. I discover platform change when my train disappears from the board, and people suddenly start running to the stairs. I decided to join them.

I through this kind of unexpected exercises are only in Poland and the UK but I was in Germany. Is PKP bought DB and introduces “Polish way” to manage trains using chaos?

Good news I managed to find my carriage and my journey on the DB begins 14 minutes late.

That’s incredible. German train left 14 minutes late while Polish train arrived on time. Nevermind. Time to enjoy a trip.

Let’s start from train.

It was an ICE class 806. It is second generation of German high-speed trains. It is Push–pull train which means it has locomotive and passenger carriages.

In theory this train can travel with speed up to 280 km/h. Let’s just say. We didn’t get to that speed.

DB’s High-speed train at “high speed”. It turns out line between Berlin and Cologne

It has an amazing restaurant carriage and it was an amazing place to work and eat it. Design reminds me cheap restuarant with fake wood. I really love it. Shame that in the UK, companies like GWR got rid of of them.

Restuarant carriage

The train was quite dirty. The table and carpet were full of crumbs and abandoned trash, but the toilet was spotless.


The seat is comfortable. Wide and has a decent recliner. (I did a shot of seat on the next leg of the journey).

I have no clue where I was looking.

Service on this service was a mixed bag. The train managers were friendly’ish, but the bar staff was quite unfriendly, and they look like they don’t care. They were as cold as my beer. For example, I have noticed they were selling toys for kids, so I want to buy it (which according to the menu) when I say. Can I buy a toy? They were baffled about why I am buying a train toy and even said.

“But this is toy for child”

At first, I was wondering should I buy a toy and behave like a child and play in the restaurant, but I explain that It was for my son, not for me.

According to DB website in the first class, you could expect “At-seat food and beverages service”, but the staff never come to my seat, but that’s maybe because I was in quiet coach? Well, I can clarify this in the next leg of the journey as it will be on DB train.

However, I didn’t really care as I was focus on explore Germany from train with quite tasty beer and classic filtered coffee that was as strong as water, so I spent fortune on this coffee.

I tried the food too. I decided to try a sausage sandwich, and it was eatable, but bun hasn’t been adequately defrosted, and it was a reason why I chose not to order anything else.

Eating sausage sandwich mostly warm except a little part that was still frozen.

However trip itself went slow but smooth. I had opportunity to enjoy view of the Germany ..

and some trains..

We arrived to Cologne around 20 minutes late but I still have 15 minutes for change but no time for explore station .

Dom at Koln Hbf

Overall. I was shocked. I didn’t expect such a poor experience on the German train as it had a high opinion. Service was rude and didn’t do the job. The train was late. The carriage was dirty. This kind of experience people usually had on Polish Railways in the past, but it looks like it is a standard on German trains now or maybe not? Let’s verify this on the next part of the journey as it will be on DB ICE train too … if I manage to catch the train.

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