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5 Countries, 5 Trains And 2 Planes In 1 Day  
User currently offlineKnightsofmalta From Malta, joined Nov 2005, 1826 posts, RR: 19
Posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 6759 times:

Maastricht is a beautiful city in the south of The Netherlands, not far from the boarder to Germany and to Belgium. Perhaps it is also this somewhat odd location in Europe that makes getting to Maastricht quite a challenge and involves taking a circuitous route along the way.

At the end of March I had a meeting to attend in Maastricht. The meeting was scheduled for a Friday morning from 09h00 to 14h00. In order to be there on time I had to leave my office near Zurich, where I work, on Thursday afternoon at 13h30 to arrive in Maastricht at 20h45. I would also have to spend the night from Friday to Saturday in Maastricht because I was not entirely sure how long the meeting would eventually last.

This report covers my return trip from Maastricht to Basel, where I live. The trip includes a Belgian Stoptrain to Liège, a French Thalys to Köln and a RegioExpress of the Deutsche Bahn to Düsseldorf, two urban trains to Düsseldorf Wehrhahn and then Düsseldorf Airport, the Schwebebahn a flight on Lufthansa to Munich, an Air Dolomiti flight to Basel and finally the airport bus home.

The journey begins on Saturday morning just before nine o’clock. I leisurely make my way from the hotel to the Dutch railway station. The streets are still rather empty, what with it being the weekend and still relatively early. Along the way I spot this, and have to take a few pictures.
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http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/Knightsofmalta/Maastricht_ELPAC/P1020742.jpg

Maastricht station closely resembles a church, both from the in- and the outside.
http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/Knightsofmalta/Maastricht_ELPAC/P1020743.jpg

http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/Knightsofmalta/Maastricht_ELPAC/P1020744.jpg

And just in case you were wondering, no Big Bird did not poo on the windscreen, it's soap...
http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/Knightsofmalta/Maastricht_ELPAC/P1020745.jpg

My first ride is the 09h10 Stoptrain from Maastricht to Liège in Belgium.
http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/Knightsofmalta/Maastricht_ELPAC/P1020747.jpg

Consequently, I have the privilege of travelling on a rickety old Belgian train, real vintage 1970s rolling stock, which comes complete with a small first class compartment with plush and surprisingly soft brown seats and a good dose of genuine vintage filth.
http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/Knightsofmalta/Maastricht_ELPAC/P1020750.jpg

http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/Knightsofmalta/Maastricht_ELPAC/P1020751.jpg

Being a linguist, I salute the Dutch and Belgian railways for coming up with the brilliant idea of giving this kind of train the tremendously appropriate name ‘Stoptrain’. Because that is exactly what it is, or rather what it does. It stoped at just about every station on the way, including a few places which more closely resembled a cow pat in size rather than a stationn. But I cannot complain. The train is on time and I have the whole first class compartment to myself.

I arrive at Liège at 09h43. The station here is a bit more contemporary than the one I left behind in Maastricht. The centrepiece is an impressively huge roof that spans across all the platforms, offering protection from the elements. The station is somewhat at odds with its surroundings. The area around Liège station could do with a facelift. To put it mildly. The obviously very new station stands there like an enormous spaceship that just happened to land in the city centre. It is evidently still quite a new building, which only helps to highlight the dim and drab appearance of its surroundings.
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My second ride is the 10h13 Thalys train to Aachen and the terminus at Köln Hauptbahnhof, main station. My train duly arrives. I am not entirely familiar with the set up here. Perhaps somebody may be able to enlighten me. The Thalys seems to operate as some kind of joint venture between France, Germany and Belgium and possibly others. From the outside, as far as I can tell at least, it looks like a modern TGV but in an elegant red and grey livery.
http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/Knightsofmalta/Maastricht_ELPAC/P1020767.jpg

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The inside of the train is interesting, shall we say. It’s a bizarre combination of styles that range from tacky faux silver and faux gold finishings à la Emirates to somewhat camp looking scarlet coloured plush seats that are unlikely to look even in the slightest out of place at Les Follies Berger in Paris or in Las Vergas. Yes, rather camp indeed. Still, I guess it is an improvement over the previous Stoptrain.
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The first class experience on Thalys includes free wifi and a food and drinks service at your seat. Please don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining. Really. But the actual service provided on board proves to be a far cry from the description given on the Thalys website under the header ‘Service à Bord’, which describes, in the most flattering terms, a sumptuous and healthy breakfast that turns out to be a meagre cup of god awful coffee, a minute tub of yoghurt and a Danish pastry. At least they have Perrier.
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Outside pretty rural landscapes with softly rolling green hills enshrouded in a light mist fly past the window. We make a brief stop at Aachen and I cannot help think of good old Charles the Great and his vision of a peacefully united Europe and her people, with Frankish as their common language. The united Europe we have, more or less. Little did dear Charles envisage that the intricate complexities of running modern day railway companies would thwart his ambitions by preventing that a united Europe might also mean more direct connections between places like Maastricht and Basel, to name just one city pair at random and for no particular reason…not much. And quite soon we are already pulling into Köln Hauptbahnhof. It’s a pity the weather is crappy.
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I arrive in Köln at 11h15. Here I have a layover of 23 minutes before catching my next train, the 11h38 RegioExpress of the Deutsche Bahn to Düsseldorf. The RegioExpress goes straight to the airport. But as I will have more than enough time to make my flight to Munich at 15h15, I decide to step out at Düsseldorf Hauptbahnhof to break the journey. After all, how many trains in sequence can one man bare at a time?

My third ride is the 11h38 RegioExpress to Düsseldorf Hauptbahnhof.
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I’m not quite sure where the ‘Express’ bit comes in as only two minutes after leaving Köln, we’re already stopping again at the first in a series of stops. Speed also does not seem to be part of the plot and the term ‘Express’. Surely there must be an internationally recognised definition of the requirements a vehicle has to meet to qualify to be an Express? Charles the Great would be turning in his grave if he knew.

This is getting boring me thinks. No wonder I’m an airplane nerd and not a train buff. There is a slight hiccup with the connection, but only a minor one. My train was scheduled from platform 2, right opposite from platform 3 at which the Thalys dropped me off. But then five minutes before departure there’s a platform change of sorts. Number 2 shows an ICE going to Berlin. My train has vanished with no announcement as to its whereabouts. So I do the only logical thing to do. I take the escalators down form the platform in search of information about my train. Nothing. Then two minutes before departure, there is finally an announcement that my train will be leaving from platform 3, where the Thalys had arrived. And so I head up again and am, by this time, in a bit of a rush.

There really is nothing worth mentioning about this ride, except perhaps that I’m starting to look forward to my two flights today, especially the last one with Air Dolomiti. A new airline for my log. That’s what travelling by train does to you. I arrived in Düsseldorf at 12h08, on time.

From Düsseldorf Hauptbahnhof I take the S11 to the next stop, Düsseldorf Wehrhahn, where I have brunch at a lovely restaurant that serves breakfast from 09h00 to 16h00 on Saturdays. The station is on the suburban line to the airport, so it didn’t even mean doing a detour for me. I shan’t bother you with any further train spotter details, suffice to say the train was red and it had wheels.
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At Düsseldorf Airport there are two stations for the suburban trains. One is underground, with the entrance to the station just opposite from terminals A and B. The other is integrated into the long distance train station of the airport, which is rather conveniently located by the threshold of the runway and offers good vantage points if you’re into planes or trains! From the station there is a ‘Schwebebahn’, a suspended railway, that takes passengers to the terminals via the main car park. The ride takes about five minutes to complete.
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Terminal A, home to the Star Alliance in Düsseldorf, is pretty deserted when I arrive.
http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/Knightsofmalta/Maastricht_ELPAC/P1020795.jpg

As I’d done online check-in the evening before, I head straight through security, which does not take too long actually, even though there are only two lines open.
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With a little time left to spare, I decide to head for the Senator lounge for a drink before my flight. I've never seen this lounge so empty!
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Date: 31. March 2012
Airline: Lufthansa
Aircraft: A 320
Seat: 10C
Class: Economy
From: DUS
To: MUC




After about 20 minutes in the lounge it's already time to board. Fortunately the Lufthansa pier in Düsseldorf is not too long so I haven't got far to go. Interestingly enough, an announcement is made inviting all passengers to use the automatic boarding gates.
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Originally when the booking was made for me, the flight should have been operated by an A319. But when I reach the gate, there is an A320 standing there for me. Boarding wis quick and efficient, despite the fact that the flight is nearly completely full. There are three rows of Business Class, with only eight of the sets taken. Luckily for me, the Senator membership works its magic, and although Economy Class is very full, I have the middle seat next to me empty.
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At some point, I get the hysterics. Let’s put it down to exhaustion slowly setting in. I am seated on 10C, the aisle seat in front of the emergency exit. The flights attendant comes along and instructs the woman sitting by the exit on row 11A to stow away her handbag in the overhead bin as she is sitting at an emergency exit which needs to stay clear. I really must say I think I have never in my life encountered such a complicated female in all my life. First she does not want to put her handbag up. Then she confesses that actually she’d much rather be sitting on 7D. Perhaps that might be free. She then decides to wait and see until boarding is completed. The flight attendant then explains to her that if she does that, there is a risk that the overhead bins in her vicinity may be full and the rather voluminous handbag might have to be stowed somewhere else. Well, the lady with the handbag is not having any of this of course. It reminds me of that short animated film: ‘Not without my handbag’. It’s very funny. It’s about an old lady who accidentally signs a contract with the devil and fails to notice she’s actually sold her soul to the devil. When her time’s up and the devil come for her, she’s quite willing to go along. But not without her handbag…

Catering consists of a small bar of Milka chocolate, which is handed out to passengers as they board. While I think it’s very good of Lufthansa to offer anything at all on a flight of only 50 minutes, I’m not sure I like the idea of being given your snack as you enter the plane. Most people already have their hands full with bags and jackets as it is, without also having to hold on to a bar of chocolate.
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After take-off the crew does a full drinks round and manages to finish just as we start our initial decent to Munich.

A harbinger of the things in store for Lufthansa?
http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/Knightsofmalta/Maastricht_ELPAC/P1020820.jpg

From what I can tell, passengers in Business Class are served a slice of carrot cake. There rest of the flight is uneventful and quiet. There is some pretty heave turbulence on the approach, and very soon we land.
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I think it's called a nap cube...
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http://i1135.photobucket.com/albums/m627/Knightsofmalta/Maastricht_ELPAC/P1020823.jpg

Nice touch of LH. This is for all passengers using the Terminal.
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Date: 31. March 2012
Airline: Air Dolomiti for Lufthansa
Aircraft: ATR-72
Seat: 8A
Class: Economy
From: MUC
To: BSL


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After arrival I head straight for the Senator lounge, I'm thirsty and I just love the Lufthansa potato salad.
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Just as I settle down with my drink and spuds I notice that my flight has already started boarding. So I wolf down my food and head to gate G31, a bus gate of course for the ATR 72.
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When the time comes for us to depart, we push back off stand under our own power. This is the second time I’ve ever experienced this. The previous time was also with an ATR 72, albeit one of Blue 1 and we were in Helsinki.
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The aircraft’s cabin is in pretty bad shape and in dire need of some TLC. Other than that however, I find the crew very friendly and professional. But their English and German is lousy.

25 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineKnightsofmalta From Malta, joined Nov 2005, 1826 posts, RR: 19
Reply 1, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 6680 times:

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Service consists of a wet towel and then, after take-off, a melon salad which I have with water and a cup of coffee.
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I then sit back, relax and enjoy the flight and the views outside.
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Luckily the weather is much nicer in Basel.
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Exhausted, I step on the bus home. I'm pooped!
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User currently offlinesultanils From Belgium, joined Mar 2010, 1721 posts, RR: 30
Reply 2, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 4 days 12 hours ago) and read 5755 times:
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Good day William,

Another nice report of yours! Quite some extensive train travelling as well. Maastricht-Basel isn't exactly the easiest city pair to connect. You know you could've taken some FR flights as well  

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
Consequently, I have the privilege of travelling on a rickety old Belgian train, real vintage 1970s rolling stock, which comes complete with a small first class compartment with plush and surprisingly soft brown seats and a good dose of genuine vintage filth.

I'm glad you enjoyed Belgian's finest set of trains. These old ones still runs strong indeed and the only think missing to make it complete are the wooden benches to sit your **s on.

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
The centrepiece is an impressively huge roof that spans across all the platforms, offering protection from the elements.

Liège Guillemins is an impressive station for sure.

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
The Thalys seems to operate as some kind of joint venture between France, Germany and Belgium and possibly others.

It is a Belgian company with 2/3 shareholding for the SNCF, 1/4 for the NMBS and about 1/10 for the DB.

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
From the outside, as far as I can tell at least, it looks like a modern TGV but in an elegant red and grey livery.

They are the same trains yes, only different livery.

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
But the actual service provided on board proves to be a far cry from the description given on the Thalys website under the header ‘Service à Bord’, which describes, in the most flattering terms, a sumptuous and healthy breakfast that turns out to be a meagre cup of god awful coffee, a minute tub of yoghurt and a Danish pastry.

They adopted this forgery from the airline industry methinks...

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
From the station there is a ‘Schwebebahn’, a suspended railway, that takes passengers to the terminals via the main car park.

I like that!

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
Well, the lady with the handbag is not having any of this of course.

The best possible action: have her offloaded!

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
Most people already have their hands full with bags and jackets as it is, without also having to hold on to a bar of chocolate.

For this piece of delicious chocalte, I'll gladly drop my bags!

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
I'm thirsty and I just love the Lufthansa potato salad.

Isn't that a contradiction  

Sultanils



In thrust we trust.
User currently offlineFlyingFinn76 From Finland, joined Jun 2009, 1706 posts, RR: 31
Reply 3, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 5615 times:

Hi William,

A nice and vey amusing read, but I can't help but wonder why the heck didn't you just take the convenient bus service from Maastricht station straight to Aachen Hbf? It runs frequently, doesn't cost much and takes less than an hour. I took it once on a Saturday so it does run on Saturdays as well. Sure it doesn't have first class if you want to keep your standards but judging from your description the Thalys First Class hardly justifies going out of your way to catch it. From Aachen the "NRW Express" Interregio train runs frequently (I think twice per hour on Saturdays) to DUS airport and the Schewebahn will then take you to the terminal. Unless it is broken which frequently happens and then a bus will take you to the terminal.

BTW thanks for reminding me of the Schwebebahn - I really need to book a trip to visit the proper one in Wuppertal. I was going there once but had to cancel the trip due to work issues.

It took me a while to figure out what you meant by five countries and I still fully understand - weren't there actually
*six* countries involved? You travelled through four of them plus the TGV train was from a fifth one and finally the Air Dolomiti plane from a sixth?

PS. Thanks for the Napcabin pictures from MUC - I am planning to spend a (short) night there next month. Am actually at MUC right now, albeit at the T1 Air France KLM lounge.


User currently offlineKnightsofmalta From Malta, joined Nov 2005, 1826 posts, RR: 19
Reply 4, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 4 days 9 hours ago) and read 5554 times:

Hello Nils

Quoting sultanils (Reply 2):
You know you could've taken some FR flights as well

Well yes, I could have. But certain things are not negotiable. And that's okay like that...

Quoting sultanils (Reply 2):
I'm glad you enjoyed Belgian's finest set of trains. These old ones still runs strong indeed and the only think missing to make it complete are the wooden benches to sit your **s on.

Actually, I think what I found the most intriguing is that all the other Belgian trains I saw while in Liège were all these ultra-modern looking things. Very futuristic and spacious carriages. Seems like only Maastricht gets the museum train.

Quoting sultanils (Reply 2):
It is a Belgian company with 2/3 shareholding for the SNCF, 1/4 for the NMBS and about 1/10 for the DB.
Quoting sultanils (Reply 2):
They are the same trains yes, only different livery.

Thanks for the clarification. I was more expecting it to be French, what with them building the TGV and all.

Quoting sultanils (Reply 2):
They adopted this forgery from the airline industry methinks...

You're probably right. That's really horrible I find. I mean even the way the railways in the UK and Germany have introduced similar fare structures like the ones offered by the airlines.

Quoting sultanils (Reply 2):
The best possible action: have her offloaded!

Please not, she was hilarious, even though it was unintentional. Who needs IFE with a chic like that sitting behind you?

Hi FlyingFinn76

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 3):
but I can't help but wonder why the heck didn't you just take the convenient bus service from Maastricht station straight to Aachen Hbf?

I can explain everything...nearly. There were two reasons. First of all I don't drive, perhaps as a result of that I am not very comfortable on the road, the speed makes me nervous. Apart from that I wasn't sure what traffic would be like. While in Maastricht they were telling me all kinds of stories of traffic jams resulting from the building that's going on around Maastricht to complete the route du soleil.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 3):
BTW thanks for reminding me of the Schwebebahn - I really need to book a trip to visit the proper one in Wuppertal. I was going there once but had to cancel the trip due to work issues.

Hey let me know when you do, I'd be curious about that myself. There's a place called Chiba in Japan, on the route of the Narita Express. Every time I pass through there I think to myself that I should go there one day just to travel around with the Schwebebahn.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 3):
It took me a while to figure out what you meant by five countries and I still fully understand - weren't there actually
*six* countries involved? You travelled through four of them plus the TGV train was from a fifth one and finally the Air Dolomiti plane from a sixth?

Let me see, what I meant was: I started out in Maastricht, the Netherlands, then travelled to Liège in Belgium, then to Düsseldorf in Germany and then flew to Basel airport, which is in France and then from there took the bus home to Basel in Switzerland. Well yes, I guess it would be six if you count the nationality of the crew and aircraft of EN.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 3):
PS. Thanks for the Napcabin pictures from MUC - I am planning to spend a (short) night there next month. Am actually at MUC right now, albeit at the T1 Air France KLM lounge.

Cool, in that case I look forward to reading your report on that. The whole thing really looks kind of funky, especially with the blue light. Not sure how pleasant it is to sleep in during the day though.

In any case gentlemen, your comments are much appreciated! Thanks for taking the time.

Cheers,
William


User currently offlinejrn216 From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2012, 44 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 4 days 9 hours ago) and read 5470 times:

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
I’m not quite sure where the ‘Express’ bit comes in as only two minutes after leaving Köln, we’re already stopping again at the first in a series of stops.

I enjoyed your trip report. 

You know, I smiled at this because it was my exact thought when I travelled between Köln and Düsseldorf Airport about 2 years back. But still, I am a fan of Deutsche Bahn even if I know the local view is a bit different. Travelling mostly on UK trains, the fact that Germany has an extensive, high-speed and well integrated rail network is enough to impress me.

Also good to see the Schwebebahn at Düsseldorf Airport! I like this airport a lot; it is modern, efficient and has a really good viewing terrace.


User currently offlineroberts87 From Netherlands, joined Dec 2011, 987 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 4 days 8 hours ago) and read 5424 times:

Thanks for posting, interesting read!

Doesn't LX or SN fly to Brussels from BSL? The train from Liege to Brussels is pretty convenient, I think.


User currently offlineairbuseric From Netherlands, joined Jan 2005, 4269 posts, RR: 51
Reply 7, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 4 days 8 hours ago) and read 5423 times:

Hi William,
when I noticed your tripreports title, I didn't expect the coverage of Maastricht at first.
Anyway, nice report and quite a tour. You could've taken an intercity from Maastricht to Venlo and direct to Dusseldorf. That would've been a cheaper alternative also, me thinks.

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
the actual service provided on board proves to be a far cry from the description given on the Thalys website under the header ‘Service à Bord’, which describes, in the most flattering terms, a sumptuous and healthy breakfast that turns out to be a meagre cup of god awful coffee, a minute tub of yoghurt and a Danish pastry.
Quoting sultanils (Reply 2):
They adopted this forgery from the airline industry methinks...

Well, Thalys does serve a very generous breakfast/lunch/small dinner but of course not if you only travel such a small portion of the ride. Go Cologne-Brussels (or preferred Paris), or Netherlands-Paris, and you'll get the complete treatment. Thalys service is really good and you won't get such a service elsewhere in 1st class in let's say NL/DE/BE/LUX/FR area.

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
Luckily for me, the Senator membership works its magic, and although Economy Class is very full, I have the middle seat next to me empty.

Yes, this seem to work for frequent flyers

btw, I like the Air Dolomiti meal service, nice snack for this short flight.

Eric



"The whole world steps aside for the man who knows where he is going"
User currently offlineakhmad From Netherlands, joined Sep 2005, 2476 posts, RR: 53
Reply 8, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 5324 times:

Hello William,

Fantastic report! My colleague happens to be impressed by the station of Liege and here you are with your covering. Awesome!

I also like your DUS covering. It brings back the nice memories of traveling through the airport in 2010.  


Quoting Knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
I decide to head for the Senator lounge for a drink before my flight. I've never seen this lounge so empty!

Specially for you. So that you could take as many pictures as you liked to show us.  


Quoting Knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
This is for all passengers using the Terminal.

I love LH for this reason too. It made my stay at FRA last year July more pleasant.

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
we push back off stand under our own power.

Would it be great to experience this on board of MD-80 once?


Thanks for sharing.

Best regards,
Suryo



Friends forever
User currently offlineKnightsofmalta From Malta, joined Nov 2005, 1826 posts, RR: 19
Reply 9, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 5304 times:

Hi jrn216

Quoting jrn216 (Reply 5):
You know, I smiled at this because it was my exact thought when I travelled between Köln and Düsseldorf Airport about 2 years back. But still, I am a fan of Deutsche Bahn even if I know the local view is a bit different. Travelling mostly on UK trains, the fact that Germany has an extensive, high-speed and well integrated rail network is enough to impress me.

Now that's put a smile on my face. A while back I decided to try the Eurostar from Brussels to London. We were doing alright until we came out of the tunnel on the UK side. From then on you probably would have been quicker walking to London! But apart from that, you're quite right. I particularly like the ICE trains. They're a real pleasure to travel on.

Quoting jrn216 (Reply 5):
Also good to see the Schwebebahn at Düsseldorf Airport! I like this airport a lot; it is modern, efficient and has a really good viewing terrace.

The Schwebebahn is very cool! As for the airport, while I agree that it is very modern, I also find it a bit confusing. Last year I had to transfer from a Lufthansa flight to an Air Malta flight there, which meant changing terminals. Without knowing I suddenly found myself landside and had to go through security again, which was rather inconvenient.

Hi Roberts87

Quoting roberts87 (Reply 6):
Doesn't LX or SN fly to Brussels from BSL? The train from Liege to Brussels is pretty convenient, I think.

Yes, LX flies the route until 21 May 2012 when SN will take over. But as a rule the fares between Switzerland and Belgium are ridiculously high. My secretary checked the availability. Even if it was a business trip, I find it unacceptable to pay nearly 850 Swiss Francs for a restricted Economy fare for such a short trip.

Hi Eric

Quoting airbuseric (Reply 7):
You could've taken an intercity from Maastricht to Venlo and direct to Dusseldorf. That would've been a cheaper alternative also, me thinks.

Actually I think the most important thing I learned on this trip about taking trains across Europe is that it makes no sense to buy the ticket in advance because then you're limited to a specific route. Whereas if you just buy the ticket when you arrive at the station you're more flexible. The route via Venlo would have been an option but apparently I had the wrong tickets for that!

Quoting airbuseric (Reply 7):
Well, Thalys does serve a very generous breakfast/lunch/small dinner but of course not if you only travel such a small portion of the ride. Go Cologne-Brussels (or preferred Paris), or Netherlands-Paris, and you'll get the complete treatment. Thalys service is really good and you won't get such a service elsewhere in 1st class in let's say NL/DE/BE/LUX/FR area.

Well okay, fair enough, that makes sense. I'd just mentally readied myself for a lovely breakfast so what got eventually was inevitably a bit of a let down.

Quoting airbuseric (Reply 7):
btw, I like the Air Dolomiti meal service, nice snack for this short flight.

Yes, I agree. It was different from what you get on other airlines in between meal times and it was very suitable somehow for an Italian airline.

Thanks to you all for taking the time to read and comment.

Cheers,
William


User currently offlinecytz_pilot From United States of America, joined Dec 1999, 569 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 5190 times:

This is great! I'm a combination air-and-rail buff, and I loved seeing both forms of transport covered in this report. This site needs more TRs like this!  

All the best,
-Chris


User currently offlineKnightsofmalta From Malta, joined Nov 2005, 1826 posts, RR: 19
Reply 11, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 4883 times:

Hi Chris

In that case, stay tuned. I'll be flying to Madrid in April and will catch the AVE train from there to Cordoba.

Thanks for posting.

Cheers,
William


User currently offlinemucdude From Germany, joined Mar 2012, 23 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 4777 times:

My first post on a.net! Yay  

Nice to see a trip report that includes a flight between my old (MUC) and my new (BSL) home. I've taken this trip once and probably will many times in the future.

I actually checked for flights yesterday and was surprised to see EN operating the flight. It doesn't even show up as a destination on their website. Does anyone know more about that?

Cheers,

mucdude



Next flights: ZRH-BOS-ZRH on LX; ZRH-SIN-AKL-SIN-ZRH on SQ
User currently offlineKnightsofmalta From Malta, joined Nov 2005, 1826 posts, RR: 19
Reply 13, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 4455 times:

Hi Mucdude

First of all let me say I am deeply honoured that you chose my trip report for your first post. Welcome to airliners.net and welcome to Basel. Have you been living here for long?

Lufthansa has been using EN to BSL on and off for the last couple of years. The set up is still unclear to me though. The flights are operated as wetleases and only have an LH code on them. But then on board everything from the announcements to the catering is EN branded.

Cheers,
William


User currently offlineKnightsofmalta From Malta, joined Nov 2005, 1826 posts, RR: 19
Reply 14, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 4394 times:

Hello Suryo

I only just realised I'd missed your post. Sorry about that!

Quoting akhmad (Reply 8):
Fantastic report! My colleague happens to be impressed by the station of Liege and here you are with your covering. Awesome!

Well thanks, I'm glad you like the report.

I was so taken by the station in Liège that I couldn't stop taking pictures. What you have here is really just a very small selection of the different angles I tried. The reactions I got from the locals were funny. Some were looking at me and rolling their eyes, while the others had this amused expression on their faces.

Quoting akhmad (Reply 8):
Specially for you. So that you could take as many pictures as you liked to show us.

Yes, it's so much more convenient. Like that you don't have to keep on telling people to go sit somewhere else so as not to get in the way of the trip reporting...

Quoting akhmad (Reply 8):
I love LH for this reason too. It made my stay at FRA last year July more pleasant.

It is a very nice touch. Something to set them apart from the rest.

Quoting akhmad (Reply 8):
Would it be great to experience this on board of MD-80 once?

Now that would be seriously cool. I think the American do that at some airports but I've never seen or been on a jet in Europe that reversed under its own power. Just think of the sound...

Thanks for posting Suryo, it's much appreciated.

Cheers,
William


User currently offlinemucdude From Germany, joined Mar 2012, 23 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 4243 times:

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Reply 13):

Hello William,

thank you very much for the warm welcome and the information on EN in BSL.

I have been here for 11 months now. After Munich and L.A. it is a bit small but I really enjoy it so far!  

Cheers,

mucdude



Next flights: ZRH-BOS-ZRH on LX; ZRH-SIN-AKL-SIN-ZRH on SQ
User currently offlinesignol From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2007, 3006 posts, RR: 8
Reply 16, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 4043 times:

Hi William,

excellent, thanks! Some good train journeys there - I do like it mix up the rail and air legs  
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 3):
I really need to book a trip to visit the proper one in Wuppertal.

I once took a trip to Wuppertal for that purpose - report here  Round Europe In 4 1/2 Days (by Signol Dec 6 2009 in Trip Reports)

signol



Flights booked: none :(
User currently offlineCaptainRed From Germany, joined Oct 2010, 686 posts, RR: 21
Reply 17, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 3977 times:

Hi William,

thanks for this nice little report. And what an odyssey to get you from Maastricht to Basel, you would have made it in probably half the time by car, but then, where is the fun in that  

I know the area in the Belgian-German-Dutch-Luxembourg border region as well and it is indeed amazing how often you can actually cross a national border there within a short amount of time. Sometimes only the different colored road signs tells you in which country you currently are.

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
The area around Liège station could do with a facelift. To put it mildly.

Indeed, the architecture of the station is really impressive, while the rest of city definitely isn't.

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
The inside of the train is interesting, shall we say.

Looks nice, I like it from your pictures. Never had a chance to ride the Thalys though.

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
From the station there is a ‘Schwebebahn’, a suspended railway, that takes passengers to the terminals via the main car park.

Interesting, didn't know that they have such a thing at DUS.

And looks like you had two nice flights as well. LH with good service as usual, and good to give you a little snack.

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
A harbinger of the things in store for Lufthansa?

Oh, let's hope not.

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
Nice touch of LH. This is for all passengers using the Terminal.

I really like that in MUC, great service.

And great you got to fly an Air Dolomiti ATR72, even though the plane and the cabin looked a bit worn. And that Melon salad is a good idea, some variety from the usual snacks you get.

Thanks again and greetings
CaptainRed


User currently offlineKnightsofmalta From Malta, joined Nov 2005, 1826 posts, RR: 19
Reply 18, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 3906 times:

Hi Signol

Quoting signol (Reply 16):
excellent, thanks! Some good train journeys there - I do like it mix up the rail and air legs

Thanks, glad you like it. For a moment when I posted I wasn't quite sure if perhaps people would object to the preponderance of trains and stations in a trip report in an aviation forum. But lo and and behold, all is well.

Quoting signol (Reply 16):
I once took a trip to Wuppertal for that purpose - report here Round Europe In 4 1/2 Days (by Signol Dec 6 2009 in Trip Reports)

I thought so, I remember there being a report on that but I just couldn't find it anywhere. So thanks for the link to the report. Schwebebahnen are cool.

Hi CaptainRed

Quoting CaptainRed (Reply 17):
thanks for this nice little report.

My pleasure, I'm sure!

Quoting CaptainRed (Reply 17):
And what an odyssey to get you from Maastricht to Basel, you would have made it in probably half the time by car, but then, where is the fun in that

I know the area in the Belgian-German-Dutch-Luxembourg border region as well and it is indeed amazing how often you can actually cross a national border there within a short amount of time. Sometimes only the different colored road signs tells you in which country you currently are.

You can say that again. But I have to say, that is what I really like about living in Europe, the diversity you find in such limited space.

Quoting CaptainRed (Reply 17):
And looks like you had two nice flights as well. LH with good service as usual, and good to give you a little snack.

Yes, that's the good thing about Lufthansa. They're nothing spectacular but they offer a consistent and solid product. You get on board and you know what to expect. I like that.

Thanks again for posting Singol, CaptainRed.

Cheers,
William Agius


User currently offlineMSS658 From Belgium, joined Oct 2010, 2474 posts, RR: 15
Reply 19, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 3860 times:

Hi William

Great trip report, thanks for sharing.
The train from Maastricht to Liège is actually from 1963, and I must say. Liege is impressive as well (well, the station).
good work catching the ATR as well.

Greetings
Marc



Next trip report: Well worn A330s and Hassle free MUC transfer
User currently offlineRussianGirl From Russia, joined Jan 2011, 107 posts, RR: 2
Reply 20, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 3783 times:

Hi William!

Thanks for this interesting report combines airplanes and trains stories! Both of them was interesting to read.  

Cheers,
Anastasia


User currently offlineKnightsofmalta From Malta, joined Nov 2005, 1826 posts, RR: 19
Reply 21, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 3611 times:

Hi Marc

Quoting MSS658 (Reply 19):
The train from Maastricht to Liège is actually from 1963, and I must say.

That's amazing, it looks old but I didn't think it was that old! I wasn't even born then.

Quoting MSS658 (Reply 19):
good work catching the ATR as well.

Funnily enough I'll be taking that same flight with the ATR three times over the next few weeks.

Hi Anastasia

Quoting RussianGirl (Reply 20):
Thanks for this interesting report combines airplanes and trains stories! Both of them was interesting to read.

My pleasure, I'm glad you enjoyed the report. I'll have another combined train/plane combination coming up soon.

Anastasia, Marc thanks for posting. I appreciate your comments.

Cheers,
William


User currently offlineinfodesk From Switzerland, joined May 2006, 1459 posts, RR: 33
Reply 22, posted (2 years 5 months 2 weeks 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 3280 times:

Hi William,

Blimey, what an itinerary! Did you put it all together yourself or did the company help? Would 4U out of CGN have been an option?

Your amusing anecdotes had me chuckling as always, especially the ones about the stoptrain and express.

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
Maastricht station closely resembles a church, both from the in- and the outside.

Nice building, I like it. What a contrast to the new station at Liège.

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
Consequently, I have the privilege of travelling on a rickety old Belgian train, real vintage 1970s rolling stock, which comes complete with a small first class compartment with plush and surprisingly soft brown seats and a good dose of genuine vintage filth.

It looks awful.

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
I shan’t bother you with any further train spotter details, suffice to say the train was red and it had wheels.

I'm glad it had wheels, I dread to think how slow it would have been otherwise  
Quoting Knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
I’m not sure I like the idea of being given your snack as you enter the plane. Most people already have their hands full with bags and jackets as it is, without also having to hold on to a bar of chocolate.

Fair point. I'm sure it wouldn't take too long to distribute it in the air.

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
I think it's called a nap cube...

Don't think I'd be getting much of a nap with those blue lights.

Nice that you were able to log Air Dolomiti. The cabin looks a bit tired and I'm not too keen on the turquoise plastic cups, they look a bit tacky. Still, at least you got a snack, that's something.

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Thread starter):
Yes, LX flies the route until 21 May 2012 when SN will take over. But as a rule the fares between Switzerland and Belgium are ridiculously high. My secretary checked the availability. Even if it was a business trip, I find it unacceptable to pay nearly 850 Swiss Francs for a restricted Economy fare for such a short trip

This was featured on "Kassensturz" a few weeks back. LX got some stick for the fares they charge on the ZRH-BRU route, whereas if you fly from GVA they're much cheaper due to the competition with ezy. They said it wasn't legal and was going to be persued......

Happy flying
Infodesk   



"Do nothing in haste, look well to each step and from the beginning think what may be the end" - Edward Whymper
User currently offlineKnightsofmalta From Malta, joined Nov 2005, 1826 posts, RR: 19
Reply 23, posted (2 years 5 months 2 weeks 4 days 14 hours ago) and read 3214 times:

Hi Hannah

Quoting infodesk (Reply 22):
Blimey, what an itinerary! Did you put it all together yourself or did the company help? Would 4U out of CGN have been an option?

It was quite a trek. The travel agent put together the route. CGN was out of the question because I wanted to return to Basel, rather than fly to Zurich and take another train to Basel.

Quoting infodesk (Reply 22):
Your amusing anecdotes had me chuckling as always, especially the ones about the stoptrain and express.

Good, I'm glad you enjoyed reading the report.

Quoting infodesk (Reply 22):
Fair point. I'm sure it wouldn't take too long to distribute it in the air.

That's what I was thinking. It wouldn't take long I don't think. And it would be more like being served something on a plane the old fashioned way. As it is, it's more like self-service.

Quoting infodesk (Reply 22):
Nice that you were able to log Air Dolomiti. The cabin looks a bit tired and I'm not too keen on the turquoise plastic cups, they look a bit tacky. Still, at least you got a snack, that's something.

I see what you mean. But to be honest, that's exactly what I liked about the whole thing. It's very tacky!

Quoting infodesk (Reply 22):
This was featured on "Kassensturz" a few weeks back. LX got some stick for the fares they charge on the ZRH-BRU route, whereas if you fly from GVA they're much cheaper due to the competition with ezy. They said it wasn't legal and was going to be persued......

Yeah, I heard about that but to be honest, I don't quite see what the fuss is about. If like me you don't want to pay that kind of money for the ticket, don't. SWISS already had to abandon some slots when SN joined the Lufthansa group at the behest of the EU and in the past there have been airlines that also tried to make BRU-ZRH a success, like Virgin Express many years ago.

In any case, thanks for posting Hannah!

Cheers,
William


User currently offlineFlyingFinn76 From Finland, joined Jun 2009, 1706 posts, RR: 31
Reply 24, posted (2 years 5 months 2 weeks 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 3160 times:

Sorry to intrude this thread, but:

Quoting infodesk (Reply 22):
This was featured on "Kassensturz" a few weeks back. LX got some stick for the fares they charge on the ZRH-BRU route, whereas if you fly from GVA they're much cheaper due to the competition with ezy. They said it wasn't legal and was going to be persued......

What? What is not legal? It is not legal to a private company to price their services according to demand? Please, I thought Switzerland welcomed all things capitalist and the market economy in general with open arms - after all it has gained unbelievable riches over the years from that very same mechanism (well foreign wars and their loot as well but let's not talk about it as the Swiss rather won't either!).

I wouldn't be surprised hearing this kind of talk in socialist France or Sweden but in Switzerland? Never.


User currently offlineKnightsofmalta From Malta, joined Nov 2005, 1826 posts, RR: 19
Reply 25, posted (2 years 5 months 2 weeks 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 3070 times:

Blimey FlyingFinn

Did we by any chance touch upon a sore point? It was not intended I'm sure. But I must say I think your perception of Switzerland is perhaps a bit off the mark in many respects. As for the country's airline industry, it's still a very protected market in many way.

Cheers,
William


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