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Wednesday, 9 December 2020

Book IV ~ Chapter 5 ~ Seabound


Having achieved our main goal in Görlitz, we now continue north towards the ocean. It should be some time before we get to see the sea, however, and for now we're simply enjoying that the way to the station this time around does not lead along the Car-Car Happy Road.

We arrive at the nearby station with plenty of time to spare, which turns out to be a good thing. The station of Görlitz is pretty old fashioned, which on one hand gives it a certain rustic charm. On the other hand, however, it's kinda embarrassing that despite us being in the 21st century now, this station does not have a single ticket vending machine (I asked), so we have to get our ticket for today from the Reisezentrum ("Travel Centre").

...which would not be so bad all by itself. However, for some strange reason, the Quer-Durchs-Land Ticket ends up costing 2€ extra, which I suppose must be the additional service fee for purchasing it from a clerk at the Reisezentrum.

But back to the rustic station. It very obviously has seen better years, for while the platforms starting from 7 are still being maintained, the tracks 1 through 6 apparently have been abandoned entirely and are gradually being reclaimed by nature.

Eventually, our train arrives. This time around it belongs to the ODEG (Ost-Deutsche Eisenbahn GmbH = "East German Train Company with limited Liability"), yet another alternative train company in Germany - this one operating primarily in the north-eastern states of Germany - which explains why they have modern trains.

This should be one of our longest journey segments, taking us first to Cottbus, then to Berlin, followed by a looong segment leading all the way to the Ostsee ("East Sea") to the mainland coastal town of Stralsund ("Ray Sound"), and finally a very small segment from there onto the island of Rügen ("Scold"), and specifically the little village of Rambin ("Ram Leg"), which is where our next stay place is located.

But one thing at a time. First of all we should be...

Exiting Saxony

Ride Duration: 1:13
Approximate Distance: 95km

Since we're at the easternmost end of Germany and headed north, the first leg of our journey today necessarily takes us northwest. The area we pass through is also known as the Lausitzer Seenland ("Tepid Seat Lakescape"), which is one of Europe's biggest artificial lakescape and stands witness to over a century of extensive lignite strip mining in the area, leaving countless huge pits behind which are now gradually being flooded to create artificial lakes. However, since the railway line mostly passes through the forest, we should not actually get to see any of that. We should pass through a number of towns with interesting names, though, such as Hähnichen ("Chihicken"), Weißwasser ("White Water"), Schleife ("Bow-Tie") and Neuhausen ("New Housing").

This time around, the train is a little bit fuller, but still offers comfortable Shnolz-safe space for everyone.

As I mentioned before, the trains of the ODEG are apparently really modern compared to what I'm used to from the DB, including among other things a first-class-style food & drink service (despite this being only a regional train)…

…and also feature modern screens, though the software could probably still use some improvements: Despite there being sufficient space on the screen to display "Next Stop: [Station Name]", the display alternates between saying only "Next Stop:" and only "[Station Name]" every fifteen seconds or so.

Anyway, as I mentioned before, our route from Cottbus to Görlitz should take us mostly through forests, occasionally interrupted by stretches of farmlands and little villages. We also pass straight through the Truppenübungsplatz Oberlausitz ("Military Training Area Upper Tepid Seat"), though we don't exactly sea much of it due to forest.

In Cottbus, we only have five minutes to change. Fortunately, however, since both trains are from the ODEG and not the DB, we do not only arrive on time, but our transfer train is also right across the platform so we have no problem changing trains. This level of extremely adequate organization almost makes me feel like I'm back in Japan again.

By now, we have successfully left Saxony behind after spending almost a full week there. Instead, we are now temporarily within the state of Brandenburg ("Surge Castle"), but not for long, though while the next leg should take us straight through Brandenburg, it should still take us...

Into the Capital

Ride Duration: 1:23
Approximate Distance: 123km

Since apparently all train lines run to Berlin (or at least the ones with the more reasonable connections), the next segment takes us even further to the northwest, all the way to the capital of Germany. The major part of this leg takes us through the state of Brandenburg, and only at the end do we enter Berlin, which is a proper - if small - state of its own. In fact, together with Hamburg and Bremen, Berlin is one of three city-states in Germany. Along the way, we pass a number of places with consecutively more difficult to translate names, but I'm going to give it a try anyway. So here we have Vetschau ("Swoosh Meadow"), Lübben ("Lips") and Königs Wusterhausen ("King's Wasted Housing").

We're still on a relatively modern train, and this time around we ride on the top floor of a two-floor car, which is very comfortably below its maximum capacity.

At some point along the line, however, I start getting doubts about the train routing, since we somehow manage to pass along the Brand Tropical Islands. I know these regional trains sometimes take a rather roundabout route, but still, I could have sworn that the Caribbean did not lie even anywhere near the route from Cottbus to Berlin.

This particular train ride should feature more fields than forests, and the land is noticeably getting flatter and flatter, with barely a hill to be seen all around. Near the end, as we enter Berlin, the fields turn to city, and it actually takes us quite some time before we make it from the city outskirts to the central station, and it only is near the very end that we cross the river Spree near the Pergamonmuseum.

Now, I've already been in Berlin a number of times - first with my father, then on a class trip, and after that several times for the Eurofurence (see Book III ~ Chapter 9 ~ Busy in Berlin). However, this is actually the first time I get to see the new central station. When I came to visit with my father they had not even started building it, during my class trip it was fully under construction, and for the Eurofurence I always changed at the Südkreuz onto the southern circle line. So this is actually the first time I get to see the new central station of Berlin, even though it has already been finished for 14 years now.

If the Dresden central station was already impressive, the one of Berlin is outright astounding. Not only does it have an elevated layer of six tracks on the second floor above a veritable little mall of shops and service centres with futuristic glass elevators...

...but it also features a second set of platforms underground connected via a central escalator chute that not only allows you to look all the way from the top platforms to the bottom ones, but is also ideal for throwing yourself to a grisly death if the train was four hours late, causing you to miss the appointment of your lifetime.

We have a total of eight minutes to take all this in, since I realize we can actually make it to one of the earlier trains to Stralsund if we hurry. After figuring that much out, Robert and I quickly rush from the top to the bottom level, and make it just in time to catch the train to Stralsund. This time around it's a good old bulky DB train.

With that, we have successfully completed the second leg of our trip today. From now on, we should be headed straight...

Towards the Seashore

Ride Duration: 3:11
Approximate Distance: 240km

Unlike the previous two segments, this one should takes us almost directly north - at least in sum, for the train runs along a remarkably bow-shaped track that takes us close to Poland one last time before heading off towards Stralsund. We should also leave Brandenburg behind again, making this the first segment to take us straight through a state without us having an exploration segment there, and enter Mecklenburg-Vorpommern ("Criticize Castle Front Pomerania"). Cities and towns along the way include Eberswalde ("Boar's Forest"), Seehausen ("Lake Housing"), Ferdinandshof ("Ferdinand's Farmyard") and Greifswald ("Griffin's Forest").

This time around, the train should be quite full. Not full full, but full enough that we have to settle for two spare seats in the intermediate section of the two-floor train, and that additional passengers have to stand.

This should be the main and longest leg of today's journey, taking us past more hills and along fewer coast segments than I would have anticipated. In fact, all the way until Stralsund, the best we should see of the sea would be a little yacht harbour up the mouth of a small river.

Shortly after Ferdinandshof, I should also have the very, very great fortune of seeing the 10th wild fox of my life, standing out with its orange fur in a field of green clear as it can be. An believe it or not, I even have my camera running at the time. However, woe is me when I find out that the resolution of the video is too low to make it out as anything more than a speck of white that the codec reduced the opposing colours orange and green too. Still, the memory of this encounter remains crisp and clear within my heart, and it brightens up my day beyond measure.

We arrive in Stralsund well on time, still not having seen much more of the sea than a sliver on the distant horizon. There, we have about a quarter of an hour to take on the pretty average station while we wait for our connecting train.

Said train is once again from the ODEG, and is as such of a modern make.

And with that, we're off to the final small segment of our journey today, leading us…

Across the Sound

Ride Duration: 0:13
Approximate Distance: 12km

This last leg is pretty much just a local trip, even shorter than the one from Dresden to Bad Schandau (see Book IV ~ Chapter 1 ~ A New Departure). With Rambin being located only 10km away from Stralsund as the seagull flies, it is even within extended walking distance - closer than some strays I did in Japan (see Book II ~ Chapter 18 ~ Matsuyama Madness & Book II ~ Chapter 21 ~ The Twofold Toyo Thuggery). However, since both of us are burdened with sufficient luggage, since it's already 16:00, and since the fare is included in our Quer-Durchs-Land-Ticket, we choose to take the train for this.

Once again, the trains is quite modern. In fact, overhearing some other passengers, I learn that the ODEG only acquired these new train models a couple of years ago (unlike the typical trains from the DB, which have been in use for decades). The train is also comfortably empty.

Thus, we quickly clear the final part of our train journey today, passing the MV Werft Stralsund (MV stands for Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, so that's "Criticize Castle Front Pomerania Wharves Ray Sound") crossing the Strelasund ("Ray Sound") via a pair of bridges using the island Dänholm ("Danish Islet") as a stepping stone, with the second bridge being a combination of two approximately 400m long causeways, and a 500m-long bridge in the middle. After that, it's only a short ride past the open fields of Rügen...

...and then we already arrive at the station of Rambin, which is really just a pair of platforms next to a small village.

With our train journey being over for today, it's now time for...

A Rambin Arrival

Our place in Rambin is located on the other side of the village. However, since Rambin is a village small enough to fit on a single screen, that's actually not all that far away. In fact, it is only a little farther from the station than our stay place in Görlitz was, and closer than our stay place in Bad Schandau.

In fact, with this being such a rural place, it is not very surprising to find that the paths we walk should be rather rural too.

And even the roads in this village are not exactly standard roads. Thankfully, none of them are car-car happy roads.

Anyway, we have no trouble at all getting to our Airbnb place...

...and thanks to precise and correct check-in instructions are able to enter our home for the next few days without any complications whatsoever.

So, we have now officially arrived at our next destination. What amazing adventures should await us here? Find out in the next chapter of the Travelling Fox Blog!

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