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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Copenhagen (Denmark) to Berlin (Germany) by Bus



Last weekend traveled by Bus from Copenhagen, Denmark to Berlin, Germany and back. This was my first experience crossing international border by road and also got  a chance to compare Bus travel in Europe with that in India.
This post shares some of by observations and experience of the to and fro bus journey between Denmark and Germany.
Sunrise en-route to Berlin
Bus travel in Europe vs Bus travel in India
I feel Indian bus operators are far more advanced in terms of process management.
  • When we booked a bus with Euro Bus, to go to Berlin from Copenhagen, we didn’t get any SMS. (Indian operators send SMS with bus details)
  • There were no options for pickup/drop off points. All pickup was at one place- DGI-Byen near Copenhagen Central and all drops were at Berlin ZOB Am Funkturm. No other options
  • No seat assignment. While online booking exists, no seat numbers are assigned. Seats are allotted on first come-first serve basis
  • The seats had no armrest. No entertainment in the bus like movies
  • Print out of the ticket is required. Can't manage with SMS (because none is sent)
However, the timings are perfect. Buses start on time, reach on time. No delays, not even few minutes.

Another positive about the journey is the ferry. The path from Denmark to Germany passes through Baltic sea and ferries are used to cross this distance and save time. The journey lasted for about 7 hours, which included about 2 hours on the ferry and a short break at a border shop supermarket. Once on ferry we can get out and relax in the ferry, buy food, use rest rooms and enjoy a mild cruise.

Even if we take a flight it would probably take similar time- 2 hours in flight, 2 hours before boarding, another hour travel to and from airport. On an average cheapest flight ticket costs about 2 times the bus fare.
Baltic sea ferries
There were no checkposts to check for passport/visa. For all countries under Schengen arrangement,  crossing a country is like going to neighboring state in India. I wish one day will come when Indians can roam freely to neighboring countries with similar freedom.

The bus was supposed to have Wi-Fi, but it didn’t work during our trip. However when at station, I could hook up with wi-fi network of other buses nearby.
Another Bus
Also we had some confusion during the return trip. We’d bought a ticket from a travel agent at ZOB Am Funkturm for a bus scheduled to leave at 4.14PM to Copenhagen, When we went to station 20 minutes ahead of time, we noticed that there were 2 bueses leaving for Copenhagen at 4.15 PM. It wasn’t clear which bus we will be on. Bus 1 was already in position, we checked with its driver and he said we’re not on his bus and should wait for next bus. Bus 2 came, its driver showed us a list of passengers stuck on the door and said only those people whose name is mentioned there can board. Our names were NOT on this list either. After few tense moments, driver of Bus 2 directed us to Bus 1. We went back to driver of Bus 1 and explained our situation and showed the ticket. This time he said he has extra seats and can take us. Eventually we boarded bus 1.
Our bus inside ferry
Looks like they don’t have a clear inventory management system. If they have say 2 buses with 30 seats each, they’d sell up to 60 tickets. Who gets into which bus and which seat is decided last minute or is left to fate.

Bus entering ferry
Driver seat
 Ours was a normal bus. There were other buses with 2 decks.
German Country side
Autobahn:
German autobahns are known for high speed driving and is an experience to be had. Our bus did use autobahn for part of its journey, but being bus, it wasn’t high speed cruising. That is for another day.


View Larger Map

Cost
The journey costed about 349 kronas (DKK) per person one way (48 Euros or Rs 4000 approx), for a distance of 450kms (just about Chennai-Mysore). Comparatively, per km bus fares are far lower in India
Early morning near Berlin

5 comments :

Anu Menon said...

Thats a pretty informative and detailed post! I hope you are enjoying your trip!

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Anu

Mridula said...

Sounds like a good trip in spite of the bus confusion. Lovely sunsets.

Athenas Take said...

Love bus journeys as there is so much to see and experience.I am so excited about how it would be to see all the beauty in Germany. Wish that I should make the trip soon.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Mridula and Athenas Take