First Stop: Warsawa

Date: 2018-08-02

So the first stop on the tour was Warsaw. When I got on the Eurocity train in Berlin I was really exhausted, the heat, carrying the big bag. Bit the nice thong was that I had the first hour of the train ride a cabin on my own. So I could stretch my legs and recover.
One of the interesting things is when you drive into a city I always try to examine the buildings and to get a glimpse on people just to develop a feeling how it might be living there.
Well Warsaw is one of this big very communist style cities with satellite towns with prefabricated concrete buildings. When I then got off in Warsawa Centralna I stood just before the Pałac Kultury
i Nauki (short: Pkin). What an impressive building.
The city center is well structured, and on big Crossings you have underpasses for the pedestrians. Well sometimes going in such underpasses makes me feel a bit awkward. But when I came to the first passage there was a polish hard rock band playing just in the spot before with a lot of spectators. So I enjoyed the music there for a while and then moved on to the hostel where I had booked a bed.
My roommates there were two women and a men. In Warsaw temperatures were nearly the same like in Berlin (about 35 degrees), so the next thing I did was taking a cool shower and then went off for a decent meal – it was already 8pm.
The next day I passed by the Pkin and went to the old town of Warsaw. It was rebuild in the 1950ies after the Nazis completely destroyed it after the polish uprising in 1944.
I found a really charming old town with a castle, old churches, nice cafes and restaurants and some shops.
Well spent there a while and then went through the city to get to the bus station to buy a ticket to Riga. Yes you read correctly a bus ticket. It is a pity that there is no train connection to riga on weekdays. But there is a EU project to rebuild the baltic railway line (
After a tip of my friend Henry, that there is a viewing platform at Pkin. I went there in the evening and had a great view over the city. Thanks a lot for the hint!


Leaving Berlin

Date: 2018-08-01

A 6 months journey should be well-prepared. A lot of things must be organized.

Well the first thing is to develop a travel plan. My first thing coming into my mind was China. Well big country, lot of people and a very interesting culture. Always wanted to see big wall, forbidden city, terracotta army and feel how it might be living there. Well the next thought was flying to china would be long and boring. So are there other ways and every train nerd like me immediately knows yes there is one of the last really amazing train dreams of going to china by the transibirian railway. Well I then decided not to do the trans-mongolian which would lead me directly to Beijing. I found it better to go all way till Vladivostok and then go to china through Harbin. The main reason was that I don’t want to handle the big town Beijing right at the start of my China adventure.

Well the rest filled up during the planning process. So I decided to stay 60 days in China as tourist it is the longest visa you might get easily. Well Russia only gives 30 days tourist visa. Then after a while I found out that at beginning of August there is the World Orienteering Championship in Latvia. Well this is what I needed for a great start. Well I am not that good in orienteering that Austrian National Coach might ever call me in the national team, but around this event there is as well the Latvia-O-Week. So I will run my own competitions and see what the real cracks do in their races at the championship. What a perfect first highlight for my journey.

So plan got adapted again.

The next thing is getting 6 months free time. Well my first thought was of just quitting the job, but this has some administrative implications, but I was lucky that my boss understood that this is an important thing to do for me and supported me on getting a leave of absence for the 6 months. So thumbs up: I will have a job when I am back in Berlin.

Well I am not that good at preparing things long term, so I am doing things right at the spot and sometimes a bit late. But well I did some trekking tours in the last years, so I know which things are important.

  • First …. Go to a dentist: I had to break up a hiking tour in Ladakh in 2016, so that was a must do
  • Second … Go and get all vaccinations. This was a thing I really was postponing until it was nearly too late. So I had a tough vaccination plan to do in the last two weeks.
  • Second … (well it is equally important) getting all visas needed. Well getting a 60 days Chinese visa is not that easy, but worth an own post perhaps later.
  • Third … getting the flat subleased to have more money for the journey (well not so really done yet but still hoping it might get done in next days)
  • Forth … clean up the flat and store your stuff somewhere, so others can live there.
  • Fifth … get all things packed. Well I have an 80 litre backpack. But I definitely have packed in too much and not well enough. So at my first stop I repacked it with the help of my friend Claudia. Thanks a lot for supporting me!
  • And well First … say goodbye to your friends. Well and because I met someone very special recently this was the toughest part you.

So I went off leaving 6 years in Berlin behind and hoping for an amazing journey.

Confessions of a Train Nerd

I love to go with the old smokey ones as well as the new high-speed ones.

I really like the interesting experience on night trains and a good breakfast in the morning. And in my opinion it gives you the big advantage of arriving in the centre of a city. Ever gone to Milano for a nice Italian coffee in the morning?

Sometimes there are interesting station buildings, interesting modes of operation, interesting railway paths (e.g. in mountains with all the tunnels and bridges).

It is always very interesting to find out how interesting railway engines work, especially if it is a funicular or rack railway. My first encounter with rack railways was the Schneebergbahn in Austria. It was amazing for me to go up the mountain with a steam-engined train with all the noise and smoke.

Well and then one of the biggest advantages of that way of travelling that you can use your time productively or enjoy the moving landscape, or read a book, chat to other travellers, walk around the aisle if you like to stretch your legs, go to the dining car for a snack or meal. A train is some kind of its own ecosystem.

One might add it is sometimes travelling by train is rather unpredictable: you have to wait for connections, there are delays, sometimes they are crowded with people. Well that may happen. The best thing is to accept it, take it easy and adapt your plans.

Some people state that reading schedules, plan routes is time-consuming. But to me this is one of the most interesting parts in the whole process. An as far as I work for a company which designs scheduling software for railway companies, there is as well a professional interest in how railway systems work.

Well I must confess: I am a train nerd.