Stockholm-Malta by train part 6: Salerno to Sicily (Catania)


After spending three days in fantastic (but super expensive) Positano, we were back in Salerno for a last night at the Hotel Plaza. After breakfast we went to a nearby sandwich shop to stock up on some provisions for our next leg on our way to Malta; Salerno-Catania on a Trenitalia intercity train.

Salerno-Catania in Trenitalia Intercity First Class
As the grafitti covered train rolled into Salerno Centrale station we realized that we might not be as happy with this trip as our latest onboard the amazing Italo. We had paid roughly €30 per person for “1 classe” which was about the double from 2nd class, but still a worthwile upgrade for the nearly 7 hour ride. The carriage felt quite modern, and there were electrical sockets so we could charge your phones which is always appreciated.

Unfortunately we sat on the wrong side of the train, going backwards, and in a seat where we were facing our co-passengers. Great if you want to chat with other people for a while, but not fantastic if you want privacy and to mainly relax for a 7 hour trip. To add to this the grumpy guy that sat on the “right” side of the train shut his window blind meaning all the pretty sea views were gone. The lady that sat facing us tried to convince him to open it up, but no success unfortunately. After about three hours with constant stops (meaning the air con was turned off) we arrived Villa San Giovanni from where we was to take our second train ferry of the trip, the one crossing the Messina straight over to the city of Messina and thus Sicily.

The ferry ride was a quite nice break from the train, and we went up on the deck to get some air and eat our sandwiches we bought in the morning. I did not check the ferry interior, so not sure if there are any restaurant or similar onboard (there isn’t any on the train). We were free to stay in the train, and some of the other passengers did. The views from the ferry is quite nice though, so in my mind it is definitely worth it to get up on deck. We left our bags while away, but as mentioned the train is open (unlocked) if you have valuables with you.

A few minutes before arrival in Messina we were told via loudspeakers to head back to the train, and shortly after we rolled off the ship and into Messina Centrale. Here we had to stop for about 30 minutes for an unknown reason, and many in our carriage got off getting some air. Since we did not understand the announcement that was made in Italian (and too lazy to ask someone) we remained onboard. After 30 minutes we took off again, only to stop every 10 or so minutes for about the same time. This time though, we sat on the right side of the train and could view the beautiful Sicilian coastline while slowly progressing. A word of warning here, the train stops shortly at the smaller stations, and a couple of older tourists missed their stop, just because they were too slow disembarking. So they had to go to the next station and get off there instead, which probably was a good 20 minutes later. Eventually and finally we reached Catania, where we stayed at Hotel Villa Romeo, which as most of the other places we stayed was basically next to the railway station.

This was probably my least favorite train of the trip, but if we’d have had our own seat pair I think it would’ve been an entirely different story. The carriage was quite nice and modern, but it got super hot since the regular stops meant that the air con was off and did not fully cool the train until it was time to stop again. But this might have been extraordinary and not something that always happens.

Ristorante I Moschettieri
We arrived quite late and through Google Maps we found a restaurant next door that had good reviews and decided to head there. While not maybe a 4,6 as the current rating states, we were quite happy with the food and the price. The food was rustic and tasty, and we had Sicilian starters, a huge plate of spaghetti alla norma (eggplant tomato sauce) covered in ricotta salata, and a mixed grill platter with sweet Sicilian onion & tomato salad. All this was washed down with house wine, and I believe the total bill was around €40. Staff spoke good English and were very friendly. A classic cozy family restaurant, that felt super Italian.

Stockholm-Malta by train part 4: Zürich-Como

After arriving Zürich by the Nightjet train we left the Zurich HBF for a quick walk around town. I’ve been to Zurich before and because of that we kind of knew our way around. Since it was Sunday and early, not that many shops were open, and not that many people were out either. But the town is pretty and we had no problem killing a few hours walking around checking buildings, views and the few shops that were open. At the station however most venues were open.

Zürich-Como San Giovanni
This time it was time for second class, and we had paid approximately 30 euros each for our seats for the three hour journey from Switzerland to Italy. The tickets were booked through the Trenitalia website, but were carried out by Swiss train operator SBB. The train looked very modern and sleek, and the interior was pretty modern and nice too. We had a seat pair in the end of the carriage, and space was decent and there were electrical sockets we could use to charge our phones.

The trip itself went quickly, we had a loud but happy group of tourists onboard the train, and when they finally got off, the trip was very relaxing. The cool thing with the trip is that although quite short, you very much notice how the landscape changes from a Northern Europe landscape to the more Southern warm kind of climate as you get closer to Italy. Some of the views over Lake Lugano from the train was spectacular, and you see everything from snowy mountains, small alp cottages and turqouise lakes.

When we neared the border to Italy, the train staff announced that police would enter the train and that we should have our documents ready. No police came onboard though, not in our carriage anyway, and a few minutes later we were in Italy and our station, Como San Giovanni, a few hundred meters from Lake Como, where we were to make our first proper stop of the trip.

Two days in Como
Situated next to the super scenic Lago di Como, Como is a quite luxurious little town. Prices weren’t that horrible though (at least not compared to Positano where we were going next), and we ate very well there, possibly the best during the trip. We also took the funicular up to a surrounding mountain and then walked up to the Faro di Voltiano lighthouse where you could walk up a semi-claustrophobic staircase to a crazy (and vertigo bringing) view of the area.

Our favourites in Como


Ristorante Rino

A Tuscan restaurant that focuses on truffle and steak. We had no reservation, so we went when they opened at 7 pm to see if they had a table. they had one at 9 pm, so we went to nearby Posta Bistrot and had a few drinks were each round gave us a free platter of charcuterie and other small nibbles.

Rino itself was great and we had a divine truffle taglioni as well as a super tasty platter of steak with shaved fennel salad.

Locanda Barbarossa
Another great place. Prices were very affordable and we had a caprese mozzarella salad, spaghetti vongole and a pizza which were all amazingly good.

Gelateria Al Bottegone
Super tasty gelato ice cream and friendly staff in the middle of Como.

Stockholm-Malta by train part 2: Copenhagen to Berlin


After an early rise from Axel Guldsmeden we went to find where the bus that was temporarily replacing the train (I guess due to some kind of maintenance work) left. The guy in our hotel told us that it was “to the right of the Central Station”. We found the spot, but quickly realised that it was seemingly only private companies using it. We asked a Flixbus driver at the spot and he too confirmed we were in the right spot. But fortunately, we were getting a little paranoid at this time and doubled checked the info and realised our bus was leaving next to the central station building in a totally different spot.

Where togbussen leaves from
After a semi-panicked brisk walk we found the right spot for “togbussen” (there were signs inside the central station building) and was safely on our way to Rødby.

Taking the train onboard a ferry
In Rødby we boarded a train just next to the ferry terminal and were driven onboard the Scandlines ferry, quite cool and there are only a few ferries like this left in the world (we’re taking one of the others in a week or so.).

The ferry was packed with Germans, Danes and probably the most by fellow Swedes. We had a quick curry sausage with fries for breakfast (when in Rome) and after 45 minutes we jumped back on the train and rolled off into Puttgarden and Germany.

This leg we had upgraded to first class, and we were sat in a mini cabin with two comfortable chairs facing each other. There were electrical outlets in the roof (took me half trip to realise) and free wifi. No food or drink of any kind by some reason. DSB’s website promised breakfast for before-10-departures as well as coffee. But you couldn’t even buy any.

We were about 35 minutes late arriving Hamburg where we had a connection that we hence missed. On the train they told us to go to the ticket office to get a new ticket in Hamburg, which we did with very little effort. Convenient.


From Hamburg to Berlin in ICE First Class
For our final leg to Berlin we got to try Germany’s famous ICE high speed train, a very sleek, spaceship looking vehicle.

The interior was nice and comfy with leather seat and 1+2 seating across the cabin. We sat next to an older guy that seemed to be some kind of celebrity since people stoped and took selfies with him. In first class there was table service from the dining carriage, but you had to pay for it. We tried an apple spritz that came in proper glassware by the super friendly attendant. Since the train goes up to 330 km/h the trip to Berlin took only 1.45 hours and we arrived right on time, an hour after our intended arrival, giving us nearly 6 hours to explore Berlin before our next train. We locked our backpacks in a locker for €6 (coin locker) in the station and went on our way.

 

5 hours train transit in Berlin
And what do you do in Berlin if you are a hungry person like myself if not taking yourself to the nearest decent kebab shop? The likes of Müstafas gemüse kebap were a bit too far, so we found a place called Kebab Baba looking nice within a 15 minute walk from the central station. The kebab was really good and the guys working there friendly.


From there we walked to Brandenburger Tour, the Reichstag and then back to the central station where we had a faßbier or two on Hans Im Glueck, which had a nice outdoor terrace. Half way into our beers two police men arrived and started cordon off the area. We were told a suspected bag was found and hence evacuated indoors. We never saw how it all ended, since we had to get to our train, but I guess it was in a good way since we could not find any more info online after leaving.

Stockholm-Malta by train (ish) part 1: Stockholm-Copenhagen

This Summer we’re trying something new: taking the train all the way from Sweden to continental Europe, and then on to the tiny mediterranean island of Malta.

The first step: catching Swedish SJ’s X2000 high speed train to Copenhagen. The trip is about five hours and we paid the equivalent of €30 each per person in second class. 2nd class was quite decent actually with good legroom, space and electrical outlets at every seat pair. There was also free wifi which worked okay. We brought our own food (from Urban Deli) onboard, but they do have an onboard café with food and drinks that looked decent enough.

Onboard picnic.

When arrived in Copenhagen we checked in at Axel Guldsmeden, a really nice four star hotel a couple of minutes’ walk from the central station. Then we took a short walk to Hija de Sánchez for above tacos and a cold beer or two.

Also in the area is Mikkeller Bar, where we had a night cap before heading back to the hotel. Lights out quite early as we had an early start the following day for the next leg of the trip.