Explore Germany on the Intercity-Express Train (ICE): High-Speed Travel, Entitled Ambiance and Lethal Luxury

ICE-Train-High-Speed-Germany-Travel-DB-03-EDIT
“Bonus Math Question: Two trains are traveling on a direct collision course at light speed…” — Image Credit: Roderick Eime (https://www.flickr.com/photos/rodeime/) — Subject to CC 2.0 License.

One of the things I like best about living in Germany is riding the ICE train. Unlike the cheaper trains, such as the IC, Metronom and other regional express lines, the ICE is high-speed, clean, professional and totally elitist. Every time I take my seat on the ICE, I really feel like the bourgeois snob I was born to be: “Step aside, peasant! …but don’t wander too far: Prior to arrival, Daddy may require his shoes licked clean by your plague-ridden tongue.”

Seriously though, the ICE rocks. It’s so comfortable and quiet — you can really sink your eyeballs into that literary porn you’ve been dying to read without fear of some visibly intoxicated soccer fan heaving hops all over your zipper. Oh, the ICE can be a bit spendy — Hannover to Berlin, one way, might run you €40 to €60 euros — but you get what you pay for. Go ahead and take a cheaper train to explore Germany: Chances are you’ll show up at your destination just fine… with a mean case of scabies mites.

Anyway, The Wife and I were riding the ICE to Lübeck last summer (city of fishing boats, marzipan and Thomas Mann), and I was just enjoying the sweet merry hell out of our train ride. There was a big TV screen at the front of the car displaying our progress on a map and the speed at which we were traveling. Looking out the window, I could tell we were hauling lethal amounts of ass, so I pulled out my iPhone and converted the kilometers per hour to miles per hour. What I discovered was our ICE train was averaging 200 kph, which is roughly 125 mph in ‘Merica speeds. (I know it can hits speeds over 300 kph, but still — I was impressed: 125 mph is suicidally fast for those of us born in the land of bald eagle cheeseburgers.)

I loved it! What a fantastic way to travel. Every country should have high-speed transit. Comfort and efficiency wrapped in one expensive, streamlined package. I was so happy — so innocently excited — I just had to tell my wife: “Jesus, the screen says we’re doing 200 kilometers per hour. That’s like 125 miles per hour! The ICE is awesome! It’s the best!” To which my wife replied, casually flipping the page of her magazine with bone-deep German pessimism:

“That’s why it would be so scary to crash.
There would be nothing left.”

 

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19 thoughts

  1. As always, this had me laughing so hard! I agree that riding the ICE feels so entitled and luxurious. I’m still broke enough that I deal with the regional trains on a regular basis, but every once in a while I treat myself to the ICE (mainly when I’m on one end of a transatlantic journey and don’t want to deal with changing trains six times in three hours).

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  2. I was thinking exactly what your wife said! I wish I was German. We need a train like that in NY. It takes us over 4 hours just to get to NYC, but I bet a train like that would get us there in an hour.

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  3. You have experience nothing in fast speed trains unless you have been to Japan or France. Both do it better and faster. Germany cannot build enough high speed tracks to get the train effectively to 300 km/h. The French TGV is way more luxurious, the Japan trains are way faster – 320 km/h for a Shinkansen.

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  4. As the moaning German I am, I have to say: yes, the ICE rules 1st) IF you get a seat (in case you didn’t book one) and 2nd) IF you don’t melt because of a constantly broken air con…

    (made the experience in a 6-hour-trip from Hannover to Munich in midsommer, sitting in the hallway in front of the WC with an average of 1000°C room temperature)

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  5. Funny thing, I have been living in Germany for 3 years now and have never been on the train. My wife has a great mistrust of them. I keep trying to talk her into it and she keeps telling me stories of being on the train and having an announcement come on saying, ” The next stop will be the last one (for some reason or another)”. The problem is that her stop was four more down the line. I guess will have to wait for my train ride. Lübeck looks great btw.

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  6. Just like having a crash on the Autobahn — You’d never know what hit you and you’d definitely be dead — none of that “crippled for life” crap to endure. Seriously, we were on the Autobahn and thinking about passing a car that was slower that we were (although it’s hard to believe) and a car just zoomed by us as we were thinking about changing lanes. We weren’t even sure we had SEEN the car, but re-thought our decision to change lanes because cars can virtually come out of NOWHERE.

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    1. Yep! I grew up in Germany but when I now go back, I am totally stressed out when driving on the Autobahn. I check the rearview mirror so much for fast approaching cars that I’m in danger of crashing into a truck that’s only going 80. The only way to really enjoy the Autobahn is at 3 am between, I don’t know, Hannover and Luebeck!

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  7. I have yet to reserve a seat on an ICE train because, well, I’m el cheapo. I actually just took one home today and it was the first time I wasn’t booted out of a seat (we’re finally figuring out how to see if the seats are reserved or not). It’s another lesson in German precision!

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    1. They usually book all the people who resevered seats in the same parts of the train, so if you can’t find a seat you might just have to walk to a different part and there should be plenty of available seating. unless of course the train is just completely booked, then you’re SOL.

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  8. Kind of reminds me of the time I was getting on the ICE from Berlin to München. There was a group of… kids of an indeterminate age (late- to mid-teens, I guess) and I overheard one of them saying they hoped they weren’t seated right at the end of the train because you’d surely be dead in case of a collision or accident.

    Which is a great thing to hear when your reserved seat is at the end of the train.

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