This is a very long post about my journey on the sleeper from Berlin to Paris. I also made a YouTube video of this journey – it’s embedded below, but you want to watch it first, or instead.
I’d been mulling a trip to Berlin for months. As far back as June 2013, I was considering the possibilities and had started saving up.
My original plan: take Eurostar to Brussels, then an ICE train to Cologne, stay there for a couple of nights, then travel onward to Berlin. On the way home, I would return via the overnight sleeper train to Paris, then take Eurostar back to London.
Of course, this is complete madness, given that easyJet fly between Liverpool and Berlin, a journey taking (in theory) just a couple of hours. But I’m a rail enthusiast, and the chance to take a long train journey on some of the most iconic trains in Europe was almost too good to resist.
The City Night Line sleeper runs daily between Berlin and Paris. The journey takes approximately 13 and a half hours, which sounds like a long time, but of course the idea is that you’re asleep for most of them. Go to sleep in Germany, wake up the next morning in France, refreshed and with a full day ahead of you. It’s undoubtedly the most time efficient option and a very civilised way to travel.
I wanted to do it so badly, but then… I hesitated. I sounded out some friends about the trip, but for one reason or another, none of them could come with me. Then I contemplated going on my own, but that was a scary thought. What if I was robbed, or kidnapped by bandits? No, I couldn’t possibly travel alone. It looked like my epic train trip would have to wait until 2015.
Then Deutsche Bahn threw another spanner in the works. The German rail operator announced that, from December 2014, the City Night Line sleeper from Berlin to Paris would cease operations.
It looked like I’d missed my chance. I spent a good few days kicking myself for not seizing the opportunity. I would never get to ride the City Night Line train, as I’d so often dreamed of doing.
Then, one day in early June, I sat staring at my computer screen. I can’t remember what made me do it. I remember that I was in the midst of revision for my Open University exams; was probably looking for something to distract me. Whatever the reason, I called up bahn.com and started searching for night trains.
There was still good availability on night trains in September, but the cheap advance-purchase fares from London to Cologne had sold out. I therefore revised my plans: I would fly out from Liverpool to Berlin and then
So I thought about a trip to Germany, then decided against it, then changed my mind and booked a slightly different trip. That’s spontaneous, by my standards.