(Night) train travel report: from Copenhagen to Trieste

I’m reporting about the train trip from Copenhagen to Trieste (the most eastern city of Italy). I’m leaving from home a to round 11 am in Copenhagen, taking the bus to the main station. As always in Copenhagen, the bus is overcrowded and extremely slow.  At least it’s almost on time, so I don’t need my safety time at the main station and can slowly walk to platform 7, where the EC to Hamburg is waiting, scheduled departure being 11:37. We depart on time. Since December 2016, most connections between Copenhagen and Hamburg are operated by Danish trains instead of the German Diesel-ICEs that were used in the last years. The Danish trains are alright, the seats are comfortable and the windows big, however they have fewer seats than the ICEs; I would recommend to make a reservation, especially in the afternoon. The train in the morning which I am taking luckily is not that full. I booked first class; unfortunately the DB reservation system placed me in the normal section and not in the quiet section. For the first half hour I have to listen to some Danish pensioneers sitting next to me, then they luckily fall silent. The Danish train does not offer any food or drinks (except free coffee in first class), but on the ferry one can get some fast food. I prefer to bring my own food, since the cheap food on the ferry is awful (you can choose between fried stuff or spaghetti bolognese with extremely overcooked pasta). The more expensive restaurant on the ferry is – according to friends – quite good, but I’ve never tried. It’s also nicer to spend the time on the ferry outside and enjoy the view and sunshine (if there is sunshine…).
Anyway, I spend most of the time until Hamburg preparing a blackboard talk and time thus passes very quickly. We arrive in Hamburg perfectly on time at 16:22. I visit the book shop to buy a newpaper (Der Freitag) and go to the DB lounge to wait (free entrance with a bahn.comfort-card – i.e. if you spend more than 2000 Euro a year on train tickets). I check out some other newspapers in the lounge and take a cappuccino (free). At 17:01 I take the ICE to Munich. I still have a seat in the first class. The first class is mostly empty and here I got my seat in the quiet area. I continue to work on my talk. (Unfortunately the lighting and atmosphere in the ICEs is a bit cold. I’m curious to see what it is like in the new ICE4s, which are running on this connection now.) Around 7pm I go to the bord restaurant. The selection is not bad, including vegetarian options. Quality and service are also allright, and the price is acceptable (and cheap compared to Denmark or Switzerland). I take my time eating as I still have to spend four hours on this train. After dinner I go back to my seat, work a bit longer, and then read a bit the Handelsblatt (there are free newspapers available in ICE first class). At 23:14 I arrive at Munich main station, we are again perfectly on time. Up to here, I had a „Sparpreis Europa“ ticket bought from the DB.

At 23:35 I take the Euronight (ÖBB Nightjet) towards Italy. The ticket is available both from the DB webpage and the ÖBB webpage; I recommend to compare prices and conditions. In my case, the DB page was cheaper (I got some reduction due to my Bahncard). In your compartment you’ll find towels, soap, water, earplugs, a little snack and a glas of sparkling wine. I ignore the sparkling wine and ask the conductor to change the seats into a bed directly and go to sleep.  I also ask the conductor to bring my breakfast the next morning for take away, so that I can sleep a little longer – the scheduled arrival is 6:21 at Udine. (The sleeping carriage was one that ÖBB bought from DB CityNightLine with relatively big compartment; on some connections also other carriages are used. In general however all sleeping carriages are clean and of decent quality, also the ones of Eastern European companies on some connections.) I fall asleep quickly and wake up when my alarm rings around 5:50. I’m a bit surprised that the conductor has not been there to wake me yet, so I dress up and look for him in the corridor. He tells me that we are about 40 minutes delayed and brings me the breakfast, so I start having breakfast onboard. Then we stop suddenly and we arrive in Udine – seems the delay was only 20 minutes after all. I stuff my breakfast back into the bag, grab my stuff and hurry to jump out as quickly as possible, balancing the coffee in one hand.

In Udine I have missed the first regional train to Trieste, but the online ticket I’ve bought from Trenitalia is valid for four hours after the booked connection, so I just take the next regional train 20 minutes later. On the regional train, I have one hour to continue my breakfast and read my newspaper. Then, as we come closer to Trieste, the view from the window onto the sea becomes more interesting. I arrive around 8am in Trieste. First stop: find a bar for a cappuccino and a cornetto. Second stop: SISSA (the research institute with the best view onto the sea).

Summing up: A nice trip. The connections are all reliable (never less than 15 minutes for changing train) and the trains are all comfortable. Buying the tickets is somewhat complicated: Take a Europaspezial from DB Copenhagen – Munich (I took first class, since it is quite a long trip, to have some space to stretch out). Then take a DB or ÖBB ticket for the Nightjet Munich – Udine. The regional train Udine – Trieste has to be booked with Trenitalia.
I recommend to bring you’re own lunch – or have lunch on the ferry. Go for dinner in the ICE restaurant in order to get a little change from sitting in your spot all day. For the night train: I always recommend sleeper carriage, but if you have a solid sleep you can save some money by taking Couchette – however, the breakfast in Couchette is rather simple, while in Sleeper you can choose from a menu. Sit on the right hand side on the regional train to enjoy the sunrise and the sea.

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