The Anonymous Widower

My Itinerary For Gdansk

I’m putting my itinerary here, so I can get it at any time.

26/27 April – Gdansk

Arriving in Gdansk on Wizzair 1612 at 23:35.

Hotel Haffner




28/29 – Warsaw

Trains to Warsaw from Gdansk

06:52 – 11:24

08:52 – 14:39

10:52 – 16:39

13:43 – 18:45



La Cantina

30 – Berlin

Trains to Berlin from Warsaw

09:55 – 15:16

Brandenburger Hof


Cielo di Berlino

1 – Cologne, Brussels, Amsterdam or The Hague






April 25, 2014 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Should We Nuke Russia?

The title of this post is not a serious question in the way you think it is.

I was thinking about how we control Russia in its expansion into Ukraine and wondered how much gas we buy from the country. Google found me this article on the Forbes web site. It has the title of Nukes Best Option Against Russian Gas. It however did give some interesting facts about Russia and its gas, particularly with respect to the sale of the gas. The article contained the answer that I wanted in this sentence.

Russia gets about €300 billion a year (US$417 billion/yr) from fuel exports to Europe, almost 20% of its GDP

So it looks like that by its policies and purchases, the EU is strongly supporting Russia.  The article also contained these paragraphs.

It is unfortunate that Germany closed down almost half of their nuclear plants in the wake of Fukushima, 8 out of 17. Nukes really come in handy during this kind of energy conflict. It would behoove Germany to rethink that decision and to postpone their plans to shut down the remaining nuclear plants over the next ten years, to give them more leverage to address the Russian aggression as they continue transitioning to alternatives.

Until recently, Germany’s 17 nuclear plants produced power exceeding the energy produced by all of the Russian gas entering Germany. With eight shut down, the amount of nuclear energy produced still offsets much of that produced by Russian gas. If Germany insists on prematurely shutting the rest of its nuclear fleet, then the amount of gas needing to be imported into the country will double, even with projected increases in renewables.

This explains the title of the article.

The writer has a point. Whether we like it or not, Europe and especially Germany is playing the Russian’s game, by buying more gas and giving Putin the funds to be aggressive.

The sooner we stop buying gas from Russia the better. We need to start fracking and build more nuclear power stations.

April 15, 2014 Posted by | World | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s Not April The First!

This story about exploding cows in Germany is straight out of the Guardian’s list of April Fool Jokes. There is a serious side though, as the article says!

Cows are believed to emit up to 500 litres of methane – a potent greenhouse gas – each per day.

Perhaps we should link all cows to the gas grid or have a cow in the kitchen connected to the cooker.

February 1, 2014 Posted by | News | , | Leave a comment

My Last Bottle Of Lammsbräu

This is my last bottle of Lammsbräu.

My Last Bottle Of Lammsbräu

My Last Bottle Of Lammsbräu

The supplier is still awaiting deliveries of this excellent gluten-free beer from Germany.

I ordered something else from the supplier; Beers of Europe, on Tuesday and it arrived yesterday.  So at least the local loop is efficient!

July 25, 2013 Posted by | Food | , , | Leave a comment

How Not To Plan A High Speed Railway

The farce that is Fyra might have got a bit better as there are now going to be some extra Thalys trains on the line soon, as is reported here.

But this will only partially compensate for the loss of the Fyra V250 trains and capacity will be nowhere near that needed.

It will also do nothing to get round one of the major design faults of the line; the lack of a branch to the Dutch capital, The Hague. A city incidentally, which doesn’t have an airport well-connected to the city centre, unless you count Schipol.

In some ways the design of the line, would be like the UK, creating a high speed line to Scotland, that bypassed Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds.

The Dutch also have a problem in that their tracks aren’t to the European standard of trains on the left, electrified to 25,000 volts AC, so it makes it difficult for high speed trains to run on secondary lines, as they do in most other European countries, The suburban Class 395 run in rural Kent and on HS1. Like the Thalys, they have a multi-voltage capability.

Another problem is that there aren’t enough Thalys trains and you can’t just rustle up some new ones quickly. In fact I suspect there is a large shortage of rolling stock across Europe and I suppose the real problem, is that because every country seems to work to different standards and local politics, manufacturers rely too much on living on the scraps politicians give them. So say if we need say some extra stock on the East Coast Main Line, we can’t generally borrow from the Germans. Saying that though, but for a few years Regional Eurostar trains did run to Leeds.  But then that train was designed to run in the UK, France and Belgium.

We also complain in this country about orders for trains going to foreign manufacturers, but this is a Europe wide problem.

What we need is standards for railways that apply across most of Europe. When you have travelled on trains as much as I have you realise what a disconnected design it all is.

July 23, 2013 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Word Calls Up A Storm In Germany

My old German teacher; Frank Stabler, said that the German’s loved words and often joined them together to make long new ones.

But a new word imported into German from American English is causing a bit of a controversy.

The word is shitstorm and it was voted Anglicism of the Year in 2012 by German language experts, as is reported here.

It’s even been used by Angela Merkel, but I don’t think I’ve ever used it!

July 3, 2013 Posted by | News, World | , | Leave a comment

German Pipe Fittings

On my trip back from Stockholm, between Osnabruck and Cologne, I sat next to a German electrical engineer.

He astounded me at one point, by saying that German pipe fittings on industrial plants were in Imperial units.

I have been unable to check on the Internet, but I assume it is true and is probably down to American influence.

July 1, 2013 Posted by | World | , , , | 4 Comments

From Osnabruck To Brussels By Train

On the Friday, I decided that I would go home the direct route, by taking a train to Brussels and then using the Eurostar.

By eight I was on the platform waiting for the 08:37 train to Cologne, for an onward connection to Brussels.

I waited and I waited! The only entertainment was several car carrying trains going through.

Car Carrying Trains At Osnabruck

Car Carrying Trains At Osnabruck

i could have sworn that the same train went through first one way and then the other.

I did meet a German lady, who was probably a lot older than me and she was on her way to Paris, after a change at Cologne.  Like me, she had a First Class ticket on the 08:37. Even with the advantage of her native tongue, she couldn’t even ascertain what was happening. We did get messages like this.



Google Translate says it means train passes.  Passes what? Wind? We were also treated to the site of trains going to Cologne that seemed to be running normally.

Hamburg Köln Express

Hamburg Köln Express

But as these were the Hamburg Köln Express or HKX, our tickets weren’t valid. The HKX has Internet-only ticketing and runs what the lady said were clapped-out ex East German carriages. So it would appear that HKX is something like a German version of Grand Central, running trains in competition to the incumbent operator. But looking at the rust-buckets running on HKX and listening to the lady, they appear to be about ten classes below, those of Grand Central.

In the end we sat and waited on some of the most uncomfortable seats I’ve found in a public place.

Uncomfortable Seats

Uncomfortable Seats

Seats are generally noticeable by their absence on German stations, as I suppose the operators assume that the trains turn up on time and you don’t need to sit down. Uncomfortable seats mean that stations don’t get cluttered with passengers. I suppose though, we could always have played hopscotch.



But then I never have and don’t know the rules. And anyway like baseball (i.e. rounders), it’s a girly game. The words are Dutch and mean that the train leaves in 40 mins? – no problem.

They should be so lucky!

We waited for well over an hour and a half, before a train arrived. I got in and found that as the corridors were so congested with bags, it was like crawling through a tunnel to get to a First Class carriage, where I did find a seat next to an amiable German electrical engineer, who spoke excellent English. The highlight of the run to Cologne was catching a glimpse of the amazing Schwebebahn at Wuppertal.

A Glimpse Of The Schwebebahn

A Glimpse Of The Schwebebahn

I think I might have done better to go to Wuppertal the previous day and ride up and down on this amazing train. I’ve ridden it before and there’s a video I made here.

At Cologne, I had to get my tickets endorsed for another train to Brussels, as my intended one was now probably on the way back from the Belgian capital. But I didn’t get the right endorsement, and for a moment, I thought, that I’d be thrown off the Thalys to Brussels.  But I found a seat and just sat put, although I did lose my temper with a Frenchman, who said the seat was his.  So he stood to Brussels!

For the last part, I decided to stand and moved to the end of the carriage, which like all trains of the past few days was full of luggage. But sitting on top of it, were a group of Canadians, who had ten minutes to catch the Eurostar out of Brussels.

At Brussels, I stood by, as cases went everywhere and just piled up on the platform.

But I’d made it back to civilisation from the hell of German railways. And for the first time since I took the Underground to Heathrow, reasonably on time too.

I’d also made it back from Osnabruck, without one word of apology from any of the staff I met.

All I expected now, was for Eurostar to get me to St. Pancras.


June 21, 2013 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

German Trains Don’t Have A Coach 13

German stations like a lot of continental ones, have a poster showing where your coach will be on the platform.


German Trains Don’t Have A Coach 13

It looks to be a good idea, but just imagine the system at somewhere like Clapham Junction or Crewe, where we seem to run many more trains than our European cousins.

Incidentally, I don’t think we have a coach 13, as we give coaches on long trains, like those out of Kings Cross and Euston, letters rather than numbers.  Several times though, I’ve travelled in coach M.  Is that unlucky?

June 20, 2013 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

The Floods In Central Europe

A few weeks ago I was in Budapest, Bratislava, Vienna and Southern Germany.

Now it seems that much of the area is under water, as the BBC reports.

I know it was only luck, but I certainly got my timing right.

I’ve never ever been flooded out in a house and I don’t ever want to be.

My hearts go out to all of those who are suffering.

June 3, 2013 Posted by | World | , , , , | Leave a comment


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