Saturday, July 22, 2017

Going to Fulda from the East


One of eight local trains I took for the trip from Berlin to Darmstadt

My first visit to Fulda in 40 years was from the East. It was such a strange feeling to approach the border from the East. The last time I went to Fulda was in a tank on an alert. That was the 70s when the Soviet Union still existed. In June, I was a tourist on a train, one of eight trains as it turned out. The most direct route from Berlin to Darmstadt passes though Fulda.  

When I left Berlin to travel to Darmstadt, I was beginning a 267-mile that would have been much better if I did not have the bike. I rode on eight trains and took almost 13 hours to get to cities roughly as far apart as Washington, D.C., and Bridgeport, Ct. A few days later I went to Berlin on an express train in just under four hours.
The Inter City Express ICE train

But the interesting thing compared to the American rail system is that I could make the trip on all local trains.  In fact, I could and did change the trip. In Berlin, I had a schedule of six trains that would get me the entire distance in eight hours. Then I missed train three. So I went to the next large station and got a new schedule. A total of eight trains. But no gaps. Just one platform to another.  
In America, only on the east coast do regional trains link together at all. For example the trip from Bridgeport to Washington, D.C. is only possible with buses or a long taxi ride. There is a 31-mile gap between Newark, Delaware, and Perryville, Maryland. And there is a 1.5-mile gap between Grand Central Terminal and Penn Station in New York. That gap can be traversed on two subways, or a walk. Assuming two subways it would take eight trains, plus two buses or another form of transportation to cover the distance. Amtrak could also cover the distance without gaps, just as the express trains in Germany. 
After this trip, I returned to the Border Memorial at Fulda for a visit. But approaching Fulda from the East gave me a feeling I won't forget.

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