Stockholm-Scotland by train: Hamburg to Amsterdam [part 3]

As we lived super close to Hamburg’s central railway station, we checked out around 30 minutes before our departure and took the quick walk there to find our first train of the day.

Unfortunately there aren’t any direct trains from Hamburg to Amsterdam, so our first trip of the day was with the sleek German highspeed ICE (Intercity Express) train, that reaches speeds of up to 300 kilometers per hour, from Hamburg to Osnabrück in Western Germany.

The station in Hamburg was PACKED, but inside the train, we chose to go in first class, it was quite empty. This first leg of the Hamburg to Amsterdam trip was quite short, and since we couldn’t find any information of whether there was an onboard restaurant on the next train we where taking, our priority was food, as we wanted to try German train food.

In ICE’s first class you get food and drinks served at your seat, if you prefer, but it’s not included in the fare, so you still have to pay for it. We had relatively recently had breakfast, so we decided to share a German currywurst with fries, as well as a fassbier (draft beer) each, because draft beer on a train! Unfortunately they had run out of fries and offered us bread instead. Oh well. 40 minutes or so before us getting off the train, the food arrived. I think the quality was quite good to be honest, tasty, hearty and decently priced.

After lunch it didn’t take long before we arrived Osnabrück, where we had a 15 minute wait before our Intercity train to Amsterdam was to depart. The station was quite small and it was easy to find our way and walk to the platform.

After a short delay, the train arrived and we hopped on the super busy train. Once again we were in first class, but gone was the calm, the plush leather seated ”couple seats” and table service, and instead we joined a group of people in a 6-person compartment, where two (very friendly) ladies had our seats. Just like in the Danish train you could travel without a seat reservation, which also on this train led to sort of chaos. After a few minutes of moving bags and people around, we were fortunately seated however, and the trip to Amsterdam could commence.

As the train approached Amsterdam, it was approximately 3,5 hours from Osnabrück, the train got less and less busy. As in Denmark, as fast as the train staff announced that we had entered The Netherlands, everyone removed their masks, as they had just removed most Covid-related restrictions there. To celebrate the border crossing, we headed to the onboard restaurant and, to our sort of sadness, found it identical to the one on the ICE train, meaning we could’ve had our lunch here on this slow train, instead of rushing it earlier on the ICE. Oh well, we had a glass of German bubbly each which we sipped on watching the Dutch countryside go by outside the window.

Then, a canal or two appeared outside our window, then another, then a tall building, and a futuristic museum. And a couple of skyscrapers. We were finally in Amsterdam, after our five our trip through Germany, and this time we were actually stopping for a while for some eating, drinking and exploring. *Speaker voice*: “More on this in the next episode of Train to Scotland”. Tot ziens!

Stockholm-Scotland by train: Copenhagen to Hamburg [part 2]

After a quick walk from our hotel to Copenhagen’s railway station, we reached our platform where the next train was due to leave for Hamburg. We had booked DSB (Danish Railway) 1’, which is their first class, via Deutsche Bahn’s website, and because of that we couldn’t choose our seats beforehand. I’m not sure that you can if you book directly through DSB, but I would guess so. Anyway, we were lucky and got a 1 to 1 pair, eg. facing each other with a table between us and no one sitting next to us. Not so lucky were all the passengers boarding the train with ”open” first class tickets, as the train was fully booked. On SJ you need to have a seat when you board the high-speed trains, but apparently not on the Danish trains. This caused a trip-lasting chaos with the non-reserved passengers jumping back and forth around the carriage, alternating between for the moment empty-seats, and sitting on the floor. Must have been quite stressful for them.

Apart from that, the seats were comfortable, there’s a self service bar with coffee and sweets, and the views were at times stunning. Last time we went we used the now terminated train ferry, but I’d say this train was more comfortable as you did not have to get on and off, and could just relax in your seat for the entire trip.

Just before we entered Germany there was an announcement that face masks are still mandatory in Germany due to the Corona pandemic, so the totally maskless carriage suddenly masked up as we crossed the border which was a little bit funny.

The trip lasted about four hours, and we rolled into Hamburg Hauptbahnhof railway station with no delays. The station is quite big, but we found our way and walked to our nearby hotel, Intercity Hauptbahnhof in a few minutes. The hotel was nice, and had what you would expect in terms of a nice bed, a tv and a decent bathroom. But mostly it’s convenient if you’re using the train station, if I’d stay longer in Hamburg, I’d stay in a nicer area. After settling in, we took a walk to the nearby Poggenmühlenbrücke (say that fast 10 times), with its famous canal view.

On the way back from the canal we picked up kebab from a place called Salli’s Döner. It was pretty good, although not fantastic. Tasty meat, decent bread, okay fries and good sauces. It costed us something like €20 which included two beers each to go. We finished our kebab and beers in our hotel room, and then went to bed.

We had no breakfast included in our room, so next morning we took a walk to a small coffee place we’d seen the day before when walking to the bridge-with-the-long-name. The place was called The Bakery and was also very close to the kebab kiosk where we bought dinner the day before. The coffee was really good and we also had a yoghurt with mandarins and ’homemade’ granola that was delicious.

Stockholm-Scotland by train: Stockholm to Copenhagen [part 1]

The first part of this year’s train trip (I think I might start doing this every year from now on because train travel is very fun) was, in contrast to our southern-bound trip to Malta a few years ago, going west. All the way from Stockholm, Sweden, to Scotland in the United Kingdom, via Copenhagen, Hamburg, Amsterdam and London.

X2000 in first class, Stockholm to Copenhagen

During a light snowfall in Stockholm, we jumped on the X2000, which is what we call our highspeed trains. They are not overly high speed, but reach about 200 kmph, and the trip to our first stop, Copenhagen in Denmark, takes around 5,5 hours. The train is quite comfortable and the fare isn’t that expensive if you book early. We paid 700 sek per person for first class tickets, which gives you a slightly better seat, free coffee and some small fika, eg. sweets or fruit, that you help yourself to in the carriage, as well as a breakfast box if your departure is before 09:00 (9 a.m.). You can also use the lounge in Stockholm, Malmö and Gothenburg if open (opening hours aren’t great though).

The breakfast box was quite good. A very Swedish, which I like, selection of breakfast toppings such as cheese, vegetables, butter, an egg, locally made apple juice, yoghurt and muesli and a tiny Finnish Marianne mint chocolate sweet (nostalgia). They also served bread from a basket so you could pick your favourite out of a few options, as well as tea or coffee. After breakfast there is no service, so if you’d like something else you need to go to the bistro and pick it up (and pay for it).

After about 5,5 hours, the train rolled into Copenhagen’s Hovedbanegården main railway station, located next to Tivoli amusement park in the city center. We had a few minutes walk to our hotel, Comfort Hotel Vesterbro which was surprisingly nice, for labeling itself as a budget hotel.

For dinner we opted to go to Surt, a 25 minute walk from the hotel. Surt is sort of a trendy-yet-casual pizzeria and gastro restaurant in Carlsberg Byen, a historical fermentation site in Copenhagen, hence the name Surt, meaning sour.

We tried a bunch of different dishes paired with local craft beer and negronis. We had their steak tartare with salsify, coal emulsion and parmesan, as well as their amazingly tasty pizza (the dough!) with local Hindsholm pork sausage, ramson, ramson capers, mozzarella and pecorino. Both were outstanding. Among the best I’ve ever had. Especially the pizza dough and toppings were really something else. So light, fluffy and airy. Pizza perfection. We also had their foccacia with pork rillette & quince mustard, and charcuterie with pickled vegetables that were also great.

After the dinner we walked back to the hotel, and instead of going to nearby Mikkeller Bar, like we did last time, we opted to go to the hotel, and have a bath and a beer in the room instead.

The next morning we had a 11:30 (a.m.) departure to Hamburg, which gave us plenty of time for breakfast and post-breakfast lazying in the room. The breakfast was, as the hotel itself, again over expectations. Lots of different both hot and cold items. Fresh bread with cheeses and cold cuts, bacon, eggs, fried potatoes, coffee and juices, and everything was of quite good standard too.