Ah, bummer – Entertaining mistakes to avoid when train hiking in Europe

Checking the train ticket en route to Paris!

There are so many tips and guides for what to do when going train hiking in Europe. But how about the comical mistakes that can happen? The events that stay with you and make your family and friends laugh as you tell the stories? 🙂 This is part 1 in this series.

#1 Let’s check out Berlin by foot

With that backpack? Get a cab, rent a bike, or just jump on the S-Bahn. It’s there for a reason.

It seems so simple to travel around Europe by train. With your luggage stowed away onboard you are barely aware of the distances you travel. That is, until you get off at a large central station and have to get to that hostel or hotel on the other side of the city.

This happened to me in Berlin and Paris, both times I decided that I wanted to see some of the locals’ life by strolling through the city. With a 40 litre backpack full to the max. After an hour of walking I completely forgot about the scenery, wiped the sweat off my forehead as I tried to find a taxi stand or a suitable metro. Yeah, it was summertime in both Berlin and Paris when I tried this. And it turned out that taxis where nowhere to be found and I only stumbled upon metro stations with metro lines that would take me in the wrong direction.

So save your strength and indulge yourself when you go to the larger cities in Europe. Chances are that your daydreaming about the train hike through Europe didn’t involve lugging your backpack through noisy and heavily trafficked cities.

#2 Drowsy in Amsterdam, wakeup call in Germany

Yeah, it’s that small. I sat down in the train carriage and noticed this young fellow, obviously very tired. He kept falling asleep and his chin slumped down onto his chest. As the train started heading east I thought “looks like a local, surely will know when to get off”. So the train made its stops on the way to Germany, but the guy kept falling asleep and waking up, glancing out the window. He seemed at ease. Then came the border, and these days the border between EU countries doesn’t involve the calamity it used to. As for passport controls and sometimes even changing trains. Nah, we just waited for a couple of minutes until the locomotive had been changed and we were off and into Germany! And the guy.. he was sleeping. Then came the German train conductor, which of course wanted to see this lad’s ticket, so he gently woke him up with a tap on his shoulder.

Being addressed by a German train conductor when you’re a Dutch person just travelling locally must be a shock. I have an idea what it looks like. The guy started cursing and laughing at the same time, with the train conductor soon understanding the dilemma.

He had simply travelled into Germany by accident, as he meant to get off at one of the last cities before crossing the border. I sat there sipping my coffee bemused by the incident. Not sure if the lad had to pay for a return ticket, but he fell asleep again as the next stop was some distance away and he would catch his return train there.

So the takeaway is: Countries come in small and large sizes in Europe. Check your itinerary and refrain from falling asleep if you’re not that flexible about where to go next. 😉

#3 Coming up..

The second part talks about picturesque travel destinations and what they are not. Check it out!

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