Thursday, 22 July 2010

Day 13 - Thursday, 22nd July 2010

I never could get the hang of Thursdays

Another day when everything went swimmingly and there is nothing of interest to report. Which is good but boring.

Again my colleague and her husband dropped me at Mönchengladbach station so I managed to get the 17:49 train to Erkelenz, which meant I got home just before 18:30. Which was good because Chef arrived just as I was opening the door.

As I was pedalling home I pondered what to write in the blog. Something about the places I visit, whizz through, pedal past and otherwise visit on my journey. But that's for another day. Because something on the train today reminded me of a fabulous train journey I once had.

The train pulled in to the station at Mönchengladbach there were 4 teenagers in the cab with the driver. They got out at Erkelenz but I didn't get a chance to ask what they'd been up to, but it certainly reminded me of the time I went to Hamburg on the, now sadly defunct, Metropolitan train.

Back when I first started working at LG Display (or LG.Philips as it was then) I used to take care of booking all the business travel for the office. One day the travel agency called me and asked if I wanted to go to Hamburg for a bit of a jolly, test the train and try out a refurbished hotel. All on them. What's not to like about an offer like that?

Having arranged boring stuff like childminders and a Friday off work, I duly arrived at Düsseldorf station to board our train to Hamburg - my favourite city in the whole of Germany, if not the world. But not just any old train, oh no. This was the Metropolitan Train.

It was a luxurious thing and designed to compete with the internal flights operated between Cologne/Düsseldorf and Hamburg. It was fast, it was beautiful and it was free. The tickets were sold on the same basis as plane tickets: if you had a ticket you had a seat. And what a seat! Whereas a normal train has 4 people sitting accross the width of the carriage with an aisle between them - this train only had 2 seats side by side. Beautiful, deep, wide seats in serious leather. They were arranged in groups of 4 around a table and in what was then a revolutionary development, you were able to use your mobile phones without any problems. There were power outlets so that you could plug in your computers (I took a laptop with me to try that out - great fun). There were also portable DVD players and films available (with headphones) if you so desired.

In addition there was a small bar type buffet car and it was such a smooth ride you could walk around quite freely if you - unbelieveably - got tired of sitting in your luxurious serious leather seat.

About an hour into the journey we were served a nice meal - none of your airline stylee pap this, it was very fresh and tasty. There was also unlimited coffee and cold drinks, but that could have been part of our special package. When we got to the only stretch of track that the train could go full pelt there came a short announcement and off we went. Fast, quiet and smooth. Bliss.

I do regret not taking any photos inside the train now, though because it seems almost impossible to find any on the internet or elsewhere. The trip to Hamburg was quite fab, but the trip back was even better.

The group was a lot more noisy on the way back - we'd had 24 hours to get to know each other and several of us had bonded over cocktails on the top floor of the Sheraton hotel with a great view of Hamburg by night. But there was better to come.

Those of us who wanted were allowed, in groups of three, to sit in the cab with the driver. And I was lucky enough to be in the co-driver's seat at the time we went faster than I've ever travelled on land before.

Most certainly that's the best train journey I've ever had. But the most exciing was the one that went from Dover to Leningrad - as it was called back then. But for that, dear reader, you'll have to wait for another boring day travel wise.


Anonymous said...

That sounds really, really cool. We wish that train was still around so that we could ride on it. (Saskia & Eveline) But did you not travel by train anywhere on your trip, for the company, to Korea?
We used to let-the-train-take-the-strain when we lived in U.K. (and had picnics and played games) and met lots of people.

Sho said...

I've never been on a Korean train - yet. Buses though. Maybe I'll write about one of those next! But next up, I think I'll describe those brilliant Russian sleeper trains.

GateGipsy said...

as this is the first time I have heard of the metropolitan train, what happened to it? was it just not competitive enough with the air flights?

Sho said...

Yep, it went out of business pretty quickly. Which is a shame, because it was a great idea. Mick and his mates got a good rate on a ticket and had a good trip to Hamburg and I think they'd definitely have used it again.

I think they offered the wrong route. Berlin or Munich or Frankfurt (or all of them) would have been better as they really are the business centres. But then I'm not sure how much of a time saving it would be to Munich which is at least 5 hours by fast car.