As there was some interest and questions about my trip to Brussels and FOSDEM on Mastodon, I thought I should write down some notes and observations from the trip. This will not really be about FOSDEM itself as there's numerous other reports from the conference itself.
I had some questions about how and where to buy tickets for a train journey like this.
For the first connection with the commuter train to Stockholm C, I just used my regular 30 day pass for the Stockholm and Uppsala regional local traffic as it already had validity covering the entire trip.
For the rest of the trip I made two separate reservations. One for a round-trip journey from Stockholm C to Hamburg Hbf in a shared couchette (six bed compartment) on the EuroNight service booked via sj.se. Leaving in the evening Feb 1 (Thursday) at 17:34, return trip from Hamburg on Feb 5 (Monday) at 22:03. I then separetly booked tickets on ICE from Hamburg Hbf to Brussel Nord via bahn.de.
For the second part I choose the option with seat reservation, but bound to specific trains. Specifically departing from Hamburg at 10:45 on Feb 2. This gave me almost 5 hours margin, which is perhaps a bit on the safing side, and adds to the total journey time. On the other hand it gives some extra time to have some breakfast and walk around a bit (though it's a bit early in the morning).
Return trip from Brussels to Hamburg was scheduled to arrive at 17:18, giving plenty of time (almost five hours) to get some dinner and visit some sights. Here it's more crucial to set aside time for any hickups, as missing the night train service would be pretty awkward…
Another option would have been to get the InterRail pass. But bare in mind that night trains still require buying reservation. And reseving seats on German ICE might still be a good idea to ensure getting a fixed seat (would be especially beneficial if you intend to work on the train).
A side note: As my camera has started acting up, taking several attempts to start up after being off for a while (probably the lens mechanism getting worn after taking around 21000 pictures), I haven't taken as much pictures as usual…
I left home after lunch on the Thursday, first going for the commuter train.
|Trains at Uppsala C
Arriving at Stockholm C (techinically Stockholm City, the underground station connected to the metro system) I left suitcase in a baggage locker at the station. Now the plan was to take the tram out to Djurgården (this is also where the Vasa and ABBA musuems in Stockholm are located) to have some fika and enjoy the weather as it was one of those sunny days. But since the next tram then was a bus replacement, I decided to instead take a walk.
|View over Sergels torg in Stockholm
|Finally some fika at the cafe Lilla Hasselbacken
The headed back towards the central station, picket up my suitcase and went to the restaurant Belgobaren to have dinner and a couple of beers. Also a good way to warm up for a bit of Belgian spirit 😎
|The nice bar at Belgobaren. This place is also the hotel restaurant for Freys Hotel
Half an hour or so before the night train was about to leave I headed back to the station.
|The departure board
|At track 10, next train is ours…
|These are old German sleeper cars
Arriving in Hamburg the morning after around halv an hour or so behind schedule
Had a bit of breakfast at one of the cafe places in the station.
|Coffee and a sandwich
Taking a morning walk and visiting the exhibition at the city hall (which was thankfully opening at this early time of day).
|Hamburh Rathaus (city hall)
Arriving back at the station awaiting the departure of the next train towards Köln (Cologne).
Shortly before the train was supposed to depart it was announced as being cancelled…
Asked some staff from Deutche Bahn at the platform and got a suggestion to instead take a train to Düsseldorf and then on to Liège, and from there to Brussel Nord.
|At Düsseldorf Hbf
Arriving in Düsseldorf and boarding the train towards Liège (destination Paris Nord), it turns out this was a Eurostar. And they did not accept my ticket even though I think that's what the staff had told me (unless I misunderstood the German). So I had to pay for a new ticket onboard.
Later filed a claim for a refund for this. And as I had not registered an account beforehand at bahn.de with my e-mail address, this had to be done via a printed form and old-school mail… So this is something to keep in mind, registering your booking beforehand could be a good idea.
Eventually arrived in Brussels an hour and some delayed.
The actual FOSDEM
Not so much from the acual FOSDEM in this post, but OK a few pictures from ULB…
The journey back home
Started off the morning on Monday Feb 5 by walking around a bit in central Brussels, saying hi to Maneken Pis, and buying some beer and chocolate.
The next thing that happend was a bit eventful though…
Headed back towards the northern station (Bruxelles Nord), as this was what I had booked seat for (probably wouldn't have been a problem getting on the train at the central station, but). Taking the tram from De Brouckère towards the northern station. I had about an hour to spare here. These lines (3 and 4) runs in a tunnel. This is what could be called a pre-metro). After the stop at Rogier (one stop from where I was about to get off) there was a sudden stop, and a power-outage! (ouch!).
After maybe half an hour we had to evacuate walking through the tunnel back to Rogier. Then walked to station. Still in quite good time for the train (but I was getting quite nervous for a while).
Later on the ICE towards Köln was some 20 min delayed. This train was supposed to continue on to Franfurt am Main, but turned back to Brussels in Köln. Fortunatly (for me) this didn't affect me, as I was getting off anyway.
|At Köln Hbf
Got a little less time than planned to get some snack at Köln Hbf.
Arriving in Hamburg, after leaving the suitcase in a baggage locker, I took the S-Bahn to Landungsbrücke to visit the submarine museum.
|The old Soviet submarine. Now as the U-434 submarine museum.
And after that a nice dinner at Blockbräu.
And then a qick a look at the old tunnel under the river Elbe, where you take elevators down. There is still construction going on and one of the tunnel lines is closed. Seems to only be opened for pedestrian and bike traffic. This was also the case when I visited last year.
|The old tunnel
|Elevators taking cars. There's also smaller „regular” elevators. But I guess those are much newer…
Back at the station awaiting the train.
|The night train to Stockholm
And the morning after looking out from the last car of the train on the long straight around Mjölby
And then a bit later, after lunch arriving home after a nice weekend in Brussels attending FOSDEM, listening to interesting FOSS talks and hanging a bit with GNOME folks.