Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Berlin to Wernigerode

Today was our last day in berlin and we started out today by going to the berlin technical museum. After dropping our bags off at Berlin Hbf, we took the U and S Bahn over to the museum. It required a couple of transfers to get there, however it was well worth it. Part of the property is a former ice house and the rest is former railroad facilities abandoned in 1982 and subsequently renovated into a museum after a few years of disuse. They had 2 large train sheds, part of old roundhouses. In the first roundhouse they had old steam locomotives on display from the late 1800s.
The second round house was a lot larger. It contained equipment from the very late 1800s until about 1975 or so. It contained a variety of steam, electric, and diesel locomotives covering the pre WWII, WWII, and post WWII era’s, Deutche blundesbahn and Deutche Reichbahn era, although the majority of locomotives were apparently former DR engines. They had a couple of unique pieces on display from the WWII era, including an electric locomotive with the Nazi eagle and swastika symbol, and they had also had a boxcar you could go in. The boxcar was of the type, and maybe even was one, that were used during the period to haul the Jewish and others to the infamous extermination camps. It was a bit of an experience to walk into one and look around. All around the car they had displays and information about the 186 trains that were used for this purpose. I’d thought that they kind of brushed that sad period of their history under a carpet, but I was wrong. In a way it’s almost like they want to keep the memory alive so that it never happens again.
After we were done with the railroad exhibit we went into the new building and checked the aircraft exhibit. It occupied the 3rd and 4th floors, although most of the big stuff was on the 4th floor. They had several complete and incomplete (wrecked) aircraft on display. They had a wrecked JU-87 Stuka that was broke in two, a large piece of British Lancaster wing along with a display about the bombing of Germany during WWII, They also had a couple of complete WWII German aircraft, including a BF109, a HE-157 jet aircraft, a V1 rocket, another Junkers tri-motor aircraft that was in Lufthansa Service, and in the service of others during the war, a Douglas C47 that belonged to the European Airlift command of the US Army. It’s a varied collection, in addition to the aircraft and railroad exhibits, they had exhibits on textiles, ships, suitcase production, computers, brewing (ran out of time to see that one), and other exhibits. They also had a horse staircase on display. It seems that in the complex’s former life it contained a stable (for delivery of goods no less) and the stable was on multiple levels. How do you get the horses up and down? A staircase for horses.
After completing our visit to the technical museum we took the U bahn to berlin-zoo and returned to Berlin Hbf from there. We had lunch at the McDonald’s in the Hbf, which was fairly sizeable, and had self-serve kiosks where you could order your food, in English or German, and go to the walk up counter to pick it up. It helped overcome language and unfamiliarity problems with the way they do things (ketchup packets sold seperatly). After lunch we retrieved our bags and went to get on the train. One thing I noticed this afternoon, was there was a work crew setting up on the S Bahn platform to change signs. I saw that the signs were changed this afternoon to say “Berlin Hauptbahnhof” with “Lehreter Statbahnhof” below that in smaller letters. Lehreter Statbahnhof was the name of the original station on the site until it was torn down in 2002/2003 to make way for the new Hauptbahnhof.
We took ICE 873 bound for Brunswick to transfer, however the train goes all the way to Basel SBB, This train was a few minutes late leaving Berlin Hbf, and lost more time en-route. We of course rode in first class, on our European rail passes. This route apparently does not have Wi-Fi on it although the train is equipped for it. Transferred at Brunswick to RB 14262, a DMU operated set to Vienenburg. This was operated by a 2 car DMU set that ran really smoothly. The ride was through the backwaters, and even saw a fairly sizeable bahnhof with something like a 6 or 8 bay transit center attached. At vienenburg we transferred to HEX840494, HEX The HarzEble Express is ran by Veolia Transportation, a subcontractor. 3 years ago this service used to be operated by DB. The equipment was a stadler low floor DMU, and it was clean and in good repair.  This car was interesting because it had a conventional automotive type transmission, instead of being a diesel-electric type.  The car took us to Wernigerode where we will be spending the next couple of days. After arriving at the hotel, we checked in and went to find our room. We asked for a room with a view of the tracks, and we got it, out the skylight! This room is built into what was the attic space of the hotel, and you have to go through a somewhat unmarked door and up another staircase to a landing, where which has a table and a couple of chairs in it, than into the room. It took us a little bit to find it but it’s pretty unique. The only window (the skylight) is above the bed and overlooks part of the HSB locomotive shop. After checking in we went back to the bahnhof for dinner as we saw a pizza place there, and stopped by the HSB platforms. We found a viewing deck for the HSB shops and yard and waited for a train there taking pictures of the equipment. After seeing the HSB trains we made our way to the pizzeria stopping by the convenience store/magazine stand in the train station, I bought a few DVDs. After spending more of my hard earned money we went and had dinner at the pizzeria/sandwich shop at the Bahnhof, which was reasonably priced and very good.

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