The Europeans are known for their love of train travel. Complaining about the state of trains however is a pivotal part of that love. In a funny way, it brings people together: a beloved topic for small-talk, a recurrent status update on Facebook and Twitter, and a theme which often brings strangers into spontaneous conversation with thier fellow aggrieved passengers.
Studies have show that the more we earn, the happier we are – but only to an extent. There comes a point when earning more does not necessarily make us happier. A better train network seems to work in a similar way. Strictly speaking, the Germans have a better train network than the British (faster, more comfortable and generally more reliable), but are they more satisfied? No. The activity of complaining about the trains even has it’s own made-up word: „Bahn-bashing“. And with the reminder in the news today that the fares are about to be hiked up, there’s bound to be a fervent round of it.
In the last 2 weekends I have travelled 560km from Berlin and 600km to and from Munich on the train and marvelled at the ease and cosiness of it all; a comfortable seat to read my book, the knowledge that there is a carriage serving hot meals should I need it (the classic chilli con-carne is my tip), helpful passengers who helped with my heavy bag and no major delay, despite the first flakes of snow.
I’ve had my share of bad train journeys in Germany, but praise when praise is due. Despite the high kilometre count, I emerged from the end of the weekend with enough energy to go back to work on Monday morning feeling refreshed and thinking back wistfully upon my walk through the streets of Munich with magnificent buildings at every other corner, the scrumptious Schnitzel served up by the hearty barmaid at the Augustiner Brauhaus, the countless christmas markets and the stroll through the English gardens on a perfectly cold and sunny Sunday afternoon. It’s definitely a city I could imagine living in.