As the continental U.S. sleeps, we are having our morning cup of coffee in our new apartment in Berlin, while the bells of a nearby church are pealing away, a very pleasant herald to our first full day here. We arrived yesterday morning rather exhausted from our flight, which took five hours instead of six due to a strong tailwind, and spent the day getting settled in our place, buying some basic supplies, and doing a bit of exploring on subway and foot. We already have our monthly BVG passes, and are ready to tackle the city more this weekend. I already love the transit system.

Today will likely be another settling-in day: a trip out to the Max-Planck-Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte, our academic home base while we’re here, and thus a new part of the city (for me anyway). We will have more updates soon, but for now, we are simply glad to be here, and excited for our new adventure.


2 thoughts on “Berlin.

  1. I was told by one of my German colleagues that many Germans think the transit system here is “not so good”, especially after a big storm left a number of people significantly delayed last winter.

    I told him anyone who thinks that should go to the US and spend a couple weeks using Amtrak. They will be cured of that opinion for the rest of their life.

    I have had German connecting trains *held for me* when my inbound train was *10 minutes* late. The last time I took Amtrak, it was delayed 90 minutes for a 40 minute ride.

  2. Yes, it is all sadly true. When Amtrak breaks, it tends to break horribly, and the results are usually quite unpleasant. When it works, it is passable and often enjoyable (preferable, for me, at least, to flying, at least in the Boston-DC corridor, and quite good in California). I will also say that the Empire Service played an important role in getting us to NYC for our flight to Germany, and everything was on time, as it usually has been in my experience. (Though we did do our train section one day early, and stay over with a friend in NY, just to be sure.) I think it depends a great deal on weather and routes: my family and I were once horribly delayed heading back to Albany from the city one night just before Christmas, due to the fact that Amtrak shares the very small number of outgoing lines from Manhattan with both freight and the Metro-North, with the result that any icy or snowed-in track, stalled rolling stock or repair, or delays on other lines will ultimately affect every other service.

    I have yet to experience European trains in all their glory — all my experience thus far has been in the UK, and some suburban railway service outside of Budapest. I would like to at least put a small plug in for Amtrak’s Empire Service between NY/Penn and Albany/Rensselaer, as I think it’s just about one of the loveliest stretches of rail (along the Hudson the entire way) you can enjoy on a regular basis, at least in my neck of the woods. I love it in the wintertime especially, with Winter’s Tale or Memoir from Antproof Case on my lap.

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