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1. Rotherham to Rotterdam (to the Black Forest)


eastwestdivide

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Well it's that time of the year again, and this year sees a train journey into Europe, using a 5-days-in-10 InterRail pass, crossing a lot of borders on slow trains and on foot, and including a walk from east to west through an entire country.

Every journey has to start somewhere, and mine started at Rotherham, where this hove into view:

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before I took a Northern pacer to Doncaster, East Coast to Peterborough, and Anglia through to Harwich for a meal in Harwich town, before boarding the overnight ferry to Hook of Holland (single occupancy of a double cabin:

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Nice and comfy, not bad value, only downside being the call to breakfast consisting of the opening bars of "Don't Worry Be Happy" at instant full volume, regardless of whether you have booked breakfast or not. There's nothing like a gentle wake-up call, and that was indeed nothing like a gentle wake-up call.

Anyway, the ship's doors were opened on the dot of 0745, and by dint of using the stairs not the lift, I managed to march down the gangplank, first through customs and onto the platform by 0752 for the 0756 to Rotterdam, consisting of one of the older-looking Dutch Sprinter units:

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A quick change at Rotterdam into a pair of these ugly beasts:

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the Koploper, which were in fact pretty fast and comfortable inside. I thought the train was making good progress until somewhere south of Dordrecht, an Amsterdam-Paris Thalys overtook at what seemed like double my train's speed.

Change at Venlo, where some US tourists were having credit card trouble paying for coffee - no chip+pin, so they ended up paying cash. Biggish station with freight yards, and one of these local units, the articulated Stadler GTW:

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The red bit with William Tell on the side is effectively a very short diesel power car, and the rest of the unit is without underfloor engines.

However, my train was one of these:

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a pretty comfy local Eurobahn Stadler FLIRT over the border as far as Düsseldorf. From there, it was an IC along the scenic route - following the Rhine through Cologne, Koblenz, Boppard, Mainz, Mannheim and off at Heidelberg, for a change to the one IC per day that goes into the Black Forest. It was running a bit late due to a police incident as far as I could tell, but while waiting there was this, one of the few remaining DB 103, on Austrian coaches, apparently a regular turn according to Wikipedia, the IC 118 Innsbruck-Münster:

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And then on my late-running IC into the Black Forest, on which I was interviewed for a DB traffic survey, and finally to my bed for a couple of nights in Hornberg. That's the long and boring bit out of the way. More to come shortly.

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Boring? not for your reader here. Shows knowledge of the Travel possibilities in the EU, and some apparently careful planning to make all those connections.

I saw the rail lines alongside the Rhine a few years back from a River Cruise ship, seemingly running a full Passenger service on Christmas Day

Look forward to reading more, 

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What do you mean "apparently careful planning" ?! The planning was nearly as enjoyable as the trip. Well, maybe not, but it brightened up the dull winter days. I made sure there were backup plans too if any connections didn't make it.

The Rhine cruises seem to be big business - we saw many of them every day when we stayed in Koblenz.

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