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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Kade

Why are the German Trains Always Late????????

Updated: Sep 11, 2023

The journey from Aachen to Unterseen begins. We are supposed to go from Aachen to Köhn; change trains and go from Köhn to Basel; change trains and go from Basel to Interlaken West. Let's see how this works out.

It was a sticky and damp 65 degrees with 90% humidity when we left the Innside at 6:20 AM. We are looking to have 87 degrees when we get to Interlaken later this afternoon. Thankfully, this regional train is air conditioned.

After seeing you can't count on the trains to be on time, we decided to take the 6:51 instead of our scheduled 7:51 train from Aachen to Köhn(Cologne). We didn't want to miss the train connection that goes from Köhn to Basel. Once we are in Basel, there is a direct train to Interlaken.

Last night, we asked the girl on the reception desk to order a cab to pick us up at 6:15. Did it come? NO! The guy on the front desk called for another one. Little did we know this would turn out to be a day when no form of transportation would be on time in Germany.

The Aachen streets were mostly deserted on this Sunday morning, so the trip to the train station was very quick.

We are on a regional train from Aachen to Köhn. After one stop, we are already 2 minutes late. How is this possible????? If you have a tight connection, you are guaranteed to miss your train.

Looking out the window, I can see the contrails of planes off in the distance. Quite a sight to see 7 planes in a pattern following each other. Unfortunately, the windows are so filthy, it is difficult to snap a picture.

Many wind turbines before getting to Düren. With no wind, all 11 are stopped. At the stop in Horrem, I noticed only one person waiting to board but there were four police officers at the station. There were no people walking on the streets and no cars, either. What's up?? I have noticed a larger and more visible police presence both in Germany and in Switzerland, this year.

This sign came up unexpectedly.

Then, it was a good thing we took the earlier train as we were held up about a mile and a half from the Köhn main station. Luckily, we only had to wait about 20 minutes before completing the journey from Aachen to Köhn. The Aachen train broke down and had to be towed. In Köhn, we had enough time to buy four rolls. I took the juice they left in the small refrigerator in our room at the hotel, too. Breakfast will be on the train.

The Köhn Dom (Cathedral) is next to the main station.

No time to go in and say a prayer and light a candle, though. .

"Officially known as Hohe Domkirche Sankt Petrus, English: Cathedral Church of Saint Peter) is in North Rhine-Westphalia. It is the seat of the Archbishop of Köhn (Cologne) and of the administration of the Archdiocese of Köhn. It is a renowned monument of German Catholicism and Gothic architecture and was declared a World Heritage site in 1996. It is Germany's most visited landmark, attracting an average of 20,000 people a day. At 157 m (515 ft), the cathedral is the tallest twin-spired church in the world, the second tallest church in Europe after Ulm Minster, and the third tallest church of any kind in the world."

"It is the largest Gothic church in Northern Europe and has the second tallest spires. The towers for its two huge spires give the cathedral the largest façade of any church in the world. The choir has the largest height-to-width ratio, 3.6:1, of any medieval church.

Construction of Köhn Cathedral began in 1248, but was halted in the years around 1560, unfinished. Attempts to complete the construction began around 1814 but the project was not properly funded until the 1840s. The edifice was completed to its original Medieval plan in 1880. Köln's medieval builders had planned a grand structure to house the reliquary of the Three Kings and fit for its role as a place of worship for the Holy Roman Emperor. Despite having been left incomplete during the medieval period, Köln Cathedral eventually became unified as "a masterpiece of exceptional intrinsic value" and "a powerful testimony to the strength and persistence of Christian belief in medieval and modern Europe". Only the telecommunications tower is higher than the cathedral."

"Christians began to celebrate religious services at the location of today's Cologne Cathedral in Roman times. After Archbishop Rainald von Dassel brought the relics of the Three Wise Men to Cologne in 1164, the Cathedral became one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Europe and required a new architecture."

"The cathedral suffered fourteen hits by aerial bombs during World War II. Badly damaged, it nevertheless remained standing in an otherwise completely flattened city. The twin spires were an easily recognizable navigational landmark for Allied aircraft bombing. On March 6, 1945, an area west of the cathedral (Marzellenstrasse/Trankgasse) was the site of intense combat between American tanks of the 3rd Armored Division and a Panther Ausf. of Panzer brigade 106 Feldherrnhalle. A nearby Panther, a German medium tank, was sitting by a pile of rubble near a train station right by the twin spires of the Köln Cathedral. The Panther successfully knocked out two Sherman tanks, killing three men, before it was destroyed by a T26E3 Pershing nicknamed Eagle 7, minutes later. Film footage of that battle survives. The destroyed Panther was later put on display at the base of the cathedral for the remainder of the war in Europe.

Repairs of the war damage were completed in 1956. A repair to part of the northwest tower, carried out in 1944 using poor-quality brick taken from a nearby ruined building, remained visible as a reminder of the war until 2005, when it was restored to its original appearance. To investigate whether the bombings had damaged the foundations of the Dom, archaeological excavations began in 1946 under the leadership of Otto Doppelfeld and were concluded in 1997. One of the most meaningful excavations of churches, they revealed previously unknown details of earlier buildings on the site.

Repair and maintenance work is constantly being carried out in the building, which is rarely free of scaffolding, as wind, rain, and pollution slowly eat away at the stones. The Dombauhütte, established to build the cathedral and keep it in repair, employs skilled stonemasons for the purpose. Half the costs of repair and maintenance are still borne by the Dombauverein."

In architecture, and specifically Gothic architecture, a gargoyle is a carved or formed grotesque, with a spout designed to convey water from a roof and away from the side of a building, thereby preventing it from running down masonry walls and eroding the mortar between. Architects often used multiple gargoyles on a building to divide the flow of rainwater off the roof to minimize potential damage from rainstorms. A trough is cut in the back of the gargoyle and rainwater typically exits through the open mouth. Gargoyles are usually elongated fantastical animals because their length determines how far water is directed from the wall. When Gothic flying buttresses were used, aqueducts were sometimes cut into the buttress to divert water over the aisle walls.

"There are divided ideas as to the purpose of adding gargoyles to religious structures. Some state that gargoyles were meant to illustrate evil and sin, while others have posited that grotesques in architecture were apotropaic devices. Sometimes the use of the gargoyles illustrated pagan beliefs to reflect the unique cultural history of the community the cathedral is part of. In the 12th century, before the use of gargoyles as rain spouts, St. Bernard of Clairvaux was famous for speaking out against gargoyles carved on the walls of his monastery's cloister. Seats are very uncomfortable on the ICE German trains and I'm riding backwards. In Köhn we were to leave from track 6, but the train wanting to go to Berlin was late in leaving our track, so we had to change to track 4. There wasn't an escalator or an elevator. There were only steps. Poor Michael had to shlep the bags down and up stairs. Even so, we were 7 minutes late in leaving. Lucky for us, we didn't book the other train that would have left 5 minutes earlier than this one, as it is now 85 minutes late in leaving. When we arrived in Basel, we saw that Interlaken train that was 85 minutes late was canceled. It's crazy how they just cancel trains anywhere in the journey. They just announce that you have to exit at the next station. You better have the DB train app to figure out your next connection as there is no help from any of the people on the train. Other passengers who are familiar with the system do try to help, though. There are good people in the world.



Wow, I finally get to see a few cows.

We pass fields of sunflowers

Small field starting to bloom with yellow flowers: rape seed(canola).

Covering for asparagus. In Germany, white asparagus (weißer spargel) is celebrated (literally) with festivals from April to June. If you've never seen white asparagus, it is exactly like green asparagus but without chlorophyll (the green in plants that helps generate oxygen in the photosynthesis process). It has to do with the deliberate harvesting process where it's grown without sunlight. It's sweeter and more tender than the green variety.

These must be strawberry plants.

In Mannheim, I look up at the map and see that the last stop at Basel SBB has been canceled and we have to leave the train at Basel Bad which still is in Germany and not Switzerland. Everyone is on the DB and/or SBB app trying to figure out how to get to Basel SBB. The lady sitting in front of us asked if we needed help as she had the app. She was headed to Lugano.

At the Basel train station they have a book exchange shelf.

We decided to wait for the later train in Basel to go direct to Interlaken West. I wanted the McClean bathroom where the toilet is cleaned after every use. So much better than trying to go on a moving train. Next, we stopped at Migros at the Basel station to pick up some bread, meat, cold water and other things for dinner. Michael and I passed some tofu at Migros. We laughed because in some Asian cultures you eat tofu after getting out of jail. Dealing with the German trains was worse than being in jail. What has happened to the German train system????? Speaking to some people at the wedding we learned the trains are not dependable and are very expensive. People are flying more as it is cheaper. Even though you may have to wait longer to catch a flight, you have a greater change to make it to your destination on time. I can’t imagine how this affects business people who have meetings to attend. From Basel to Interlaken, I decided to sit in the quiet car. Seats are comfortable, the air conditioning is cooler, and there usually is no noise.

So many people enjoying the Aare River in Bern and Lake Thun.

The water looks so inviting!

Quite a bit of snow has melted off the Mönch and Jungfrau.

As I finish today's blog, I'm sitting on the patio of the Garden House.

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