Christmas Eve Travels

Julien and I booked flights to Germany on Christmas Eve. We had different flights, his leaving at 11:30am and mine at 2pm. He went directly to the airport while I first went to the shop and packed my bike and my backpack full of Christmas presents. We knew that about a week ago there was snow chaos in Europe and most of the airports had been shut down. But the past 2 or 3 days were fine so we hoped that our flights would have no issue to Frankfurt despite the possible snow forecasted for the evening in Frankfurt.

When I walked to the gate at Beijing airport my pulse started to go faster because I saw hardly any people. I asked the lady when the boarding will start still confused if the clock on my mobile phone was correct and she said 1:30pm. It was 1:22pm and there were abut 25 people at the gate. Usually more than 15min before boarding there is already a queue at the gate of the people that do not understand that everybody has a seat as printed on the boarding pass. But today it was only 8min and there was nobody. And that stayed the same even after boarding the huge Boeing 747 with the 2 floors. So everybody had a huge area for himself. i had 4 seats that I used as a bed. That was a very nice flight. That is the advantage of flying on Christmas Eve.

Julien’s flight arrived on time without issues. But then it did start snowing. I was worried that our flight with about 50 people could easily get diverted to a different airport as it was so empty. We first did 3 loops just before Frankfurt. And then we headed to Frankfurt but unfortunately passed it and did 3 loops on that side. In the end we did land in Frankfurt but with delay. I had to smile to see the display at the luggage belt saying: „Luggage will arrive in 6 min“. And of course (Germans are precise) it did arrive after 6 min.

The disadvantage of traveling on Christmas Eve is that there are less trains. The trains run every day of the year, just not on Dec 24th, 25th and 31st. So we had to wait about 30min for our ICE high speed train to Nuremberg. Just 10min before the scheduled departure they informed us that the train will be delayed by 40min. That was not as bad as most other trains that were at least delayed by 40min, if not 180min or even up to 300min (that is 5 hours!) due to the heavy snow in many parts of Germany.

Finally on the train Julien was amazed to see that they serve beer. He was even allowed to bring the wheat beer in the original glass to his seat. When the train conductor came by he smiled and said „We are soon going to cross the boarder and enter Bavaria and then beer is a must for every passenger!“.

Franziskaner Weissbier on the German ICE train
Traveling from Beijing to Nuremberg

Despite the delay we were happy to be almost at my parents place. It was still snowing when around 10:30pm we did a sudden full stop. We were informed that the train had „caught“ something. That did not sound good. I mean when the train accidentally hits an animal like a rabbit nothing happens. But once in a while someone tries to do suicide and jumps in front of a high speed train. And yes that had happened on this snowy Christmas Eve. So now the police had to come and examine everything. We were just near Neustadt so I asked if we could get off as that was only about 10km away from my parents home but we were not allowed off the train. But the Deutsche Bahn (German Railways) offered everybody free drinks.
Julien decided to get some sleep and squeezed himself on the 2 tiny train seats.

Julien sleeping on ICE

After more than 3 hours our train was finally allowed to continue the journey. As the connection trains were all long gone the Deutsche Bahn arranged taxis for people going to other places, So we shared a taxi with an Indian guy from Chennai who also flew in today. So we arrived at my parents place at 2:45am. That was about 9 hours after I had landed in Frankfurt and almost 13 hours after Julien had landed. The flight from Beijing to Frankfurt was just 9 and a half hours. We were exhausted.

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