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cultural difference 7: transportation II

April 13, 2010

Public transportation in Germany is pretty great, at least in the bigger cities.

Traveling by train is very common in Germany. I personally take the train to work on most days. I get a lot of writing done that way.

Deutsche Bahn, the German Railway, is a very advanced rail system, but at the same time, they are notorious for their delays and for the bad English of their conductors. There’s even a book with the title “Senk ju vor träwelling,” which makes fun of German Railway’s signature line “Thank you for traveling with Deutsche Bahn.”

If you travel between major cities, you can take the ICE (InterCity Express), one of the high-speed trains. They travel at up to 300 km/h, which is about 185 mph.

For shorter distances and to travel between smaller cities, you take the Regional-Express, which travel at a lower speed and with less comfort. Here’s one of the typical red trains:

There are no long-distance buses that travel from one end of Germany to the other, but there are buses within bigger cities and also between small towns which are just a few miles apart.

Within the big cities, there’s also the S-Bahn, a city railway, and sometimes the U-Bahn, a subway, and also the Straßenbahn, a tram or street car. Here’s one of the Straßenbahn in Freiburg, where I live. As you can see, Freiburg’s city center is a car-free zone.

Do you see the “Bächle” (which translates to “small creak”) next to the street car rails? Want to guess what it would mean if you visit Freiburg and accidentally step into one of them?

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4 comments

  1. I take the S-Bahn to go to work 🙂
    And yes, please let us know what stepping into the “Bächle” means.


  2. How do you get to the train to go to work? On your bike?

    According to http://www.statemaster.com/encyclopedia/Freiburg, if I step into a Bächle, I may have to marry you! I hope your cooking skills are up to par, because mine sure aren’t. 🙂


  3. I’m a pretty good cook 🙂
    but I didn’t step into the “Bächle” while in Freiburg. Sorry.
    Regarding the S-Bahn: We live just three minutes away from the train station – so I walk.


  4. Amazing, what “doing a computer search” a.k.a. googling can turn up. Yes, that’s right — if you step into a Bächle, it means you’ll one day marry a person from Freiburg.

    I haven’t killed anyone with my cooking yet, but since I’m a writer, my future spouse will be the one chained to the kitchen 🙂

    In the summer, I take my bike to the train station. When it’s raining or too cold, I take the Straßenbahn, which is just five minutes from my apartment.



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