Saturday, April 30, 2011

Monday 25 April Tramendous Integration at Kassel

ICE 585 0901 Hamburg Hbf to Kassel Wilhelmshohe 1121
ICE 277 1316 Kassel Wilhelmshohe to Basel SBB 1747

It was a very quiet Easter Monday morning as we checked out and wheeled our cases across the street to the railway station. There is an excellent sound system in the station concourse which was playing Vivaldi.

The first leg of the journey went smoothly. It was an older ICE-1 set but it ran well and very smoothly. We had the entire car to ourselves. I was surprised to see a booklet that had been prepared for this specific train, giving times and the connections at each station. It was a very lengthy document.  This is a common feature on German and Austrian long distance trains. As we approached Kassel we saw a concrete retaining wall that had been built up from planters full of plants. It made a concrete wall a thing of beauty.

We arrived at Kassel and quickly found the trams which were circulating frequently right in the station forecourt. There are two platform roads in each direction which are paved up to road surface level so they may be used by buses as well. The whole system is very effective and works well. The trams tended to arrive at the same times so there was a good interchange. We had a light snack sitting at a table in the forecourt watching the tram action.

Click above to see all my images of the Kassel Tramway

ICE 277 had come from Berlin and was already crowded. We had seat reservations and had to turn out a couple of women, one elderly. Still we had paid for the reservation and it was marked above our seats. We lost a little time and then, it seems we were diverted over another line (with semaphore signals and mechanical interlocking) and found ourselves 40 minutes late. We gained a little time in places but poor station work put us back and we lost our path and had to run behind a stopping local train before we could get by it at Freiburg. The train was terminated at Basel instead of running through to Interlaken.

Many villages had lilacs in bloom over the houses while a feature of many of them are allotments – communal gardens where people can grow their vegetables.

As we approached Basel we could see a great number of vineyards.

There was some initial confusion as to where the hotel was but it turned out to be very close to the station and next to the tram stops. Basel has a great number of trams – in fact there are no buses in the city centre. We have a Basel Mobility Pass, free from the hotel, which is good on the trams for the duration of our visit.

It is very expensive here. The cheapest burger at Burger King is 14 francs (about $16). We didn't eat there any way but found a restaurant where we could sit outside and try rosti – potato covered in bacon, ham and Swiss cheese. It was very good.

Took a tram back to the hotel.

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