Some of the most beautiful moments in my life have been spent in solo travel through Europe on long distance trains. It's my retreat from the world, an almost Zen-like experience, when I can be alone and silently concentrated on the beauty of the picture-perfect quaint European villages as they roll dreamily past. To make the most of my train-travel, I always book first class in a silent compartmet and if I am not traveling on a weekend, there are only very few passengers in the first class coach and it's usually very quiet.
Recently I was traveling in Germany by the German high-speed train Inter City Express or the ICE. Here is some information and pictures from my train journey.
1. The Platform
The platforms (called Gleis in German) are divided with alphabets like A, B, C or D. Once you arrive on the platform, you need to check where the first class compartment is going to arrive and board accordingly. You can also request the train employees standing next to the first class compartment to help you with your luggage. The Germans are usually very thoughtful in this regard and many times it has happened to me that even before I have asked for help, a hand has reached out to help me with my bags in the train!
2. Inside the train
The seat configuration is 1 and 2 and there is a lot of room inside the compartment to store the luggage. I usually book the last seat on the train so I can keep my heavy suitcases just behind my seat. When you are reserving your seat online, you can go to the seat menu to choose your seat.
3. Food & Service
You can order coffee and sandwiches from the comfort of your seat. There is a menu of salads, sandwiches and drinks to choose from, and as soon as you are settled in your seat, somebody will come and take your order. My go-to order of course is 'Kaffee mit Milch' (coffee with milk). It always helps to speak a little bit of German or you may want to travel with a small German dictionary, just incase you need help with the order or anything else!
Also, throughout your journey, somebody will come along and offer you cookies or chocolates, a complimentary service from the Deutsche Bahn.
4. Scenic landscapes & wi-fi
Even though the trains offer wi-fi service, this is one time I like to disconnect from the world and just sit back and loose myself in the beauty of the passing landscapes with a cup of nice, delicious coffee or a juice. They also offer you a wide selection of German newspapers.
5. Cleanliness & comfort of seats
The seats are very comfortable and the first class compartments boast a high level of cleanliness.