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.”