Getting from Stuttgart to Nuremberg: A Sweaty Near-Miss

Having been in Germany for over a week, I thought I had a pretty good grip on this whole train situation. But getting from Stuttgart to Nuremberg made me reconsider my life choices.

Pretty key to success on any train journey was that, in the event of any confusion, go to the Deutsche Bahn ticket office and speak to a real human, in English. Don’t rely on the little red ticket machine. This was a great strategy – foolproof everytime.

I also had a pretty good grip on the fact that Germany – that is, the entire country – was under construction. Every part of it. All the time.

Error #1: I had not, apparently, got a grip on the fact that combining the need to get to a DB ticket office, plus the constant construction would result in a major issue.

From my hotel, I could see the train station. But it was like being in some bad video game: just because you can see the thing you need, doesn’t mean you can reach it.

Google Maps had told me there was only one good train to Nuremberg, so this wasn’t a leisurely stroll. I had my rolling suitcase, my little backpack and the ‘spare bag’ as we say – the little cloth bag full of all the stuff you can no longer fit in your suitcase.

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Error #2: It seemed like a good idea to take the underground tunnel, which clearly stated it led to the train station.

Reader: it did not lead to the train station. Got trapped on an S Bahn platform instead, and had to backtrack.

All the while, the clock is ticking, and the temperature is literally rising.

Got back into the out of doors, and can still see the train station, but I continue to be on the wrong side of the road. Finally I got to the station, using regular old sidewalks. In the Nuremberg station, there are helpful wayfinding signs for any number of things: The S Bahn, the Ukrainian Arrival Centre, the bakery (duh). Not the ticket office though!

At the far end of the station, hidden in the corner, is the ticket ‘info centre’. This is not a ticket office. I can’t read more than 6 words in German, but I know those big red signs say “We do not sell train tickets”.

Nonetheless, the German DB worker prints me a page indicating how to get to Nuremberg. “It is a problem” he says, “there is work on the tracks. You have to make a stop.” That’s fine, I think, a stop is not a problem.

He then directs me to the ticket office “Just behind” he says, unhelpfully.

Error #3: Believing the man at the info office.

The ticket office was not “just behind” and the “one stop” was in fact a four minute change, which prompted the woman at the ticket office to raise one eyebrow at me. “Wellll,” she says “four minutes. It is very fast for a change.”

“Yes,” I say. “Is that reasonable?”

“Hm.” (She seems to be turning more German every second, if that’s possible). “You could try. 39 Euro.”

No indication of what I do with my paid for, 39 Euro ticket if I miss the train; this is not the moment to ask questions.

“You must first take the S Bahn” (NOOOOO says my brain. I was just ON the S Bahn platform and that is not near here).

“Sure.” I say.

“Follow the yellow line until the line stops. Then follow green signs for S Bahn.”

Great. Back outside. 27 degrees Celsius. Sweat everywhere. In a grand moment of deja vu, I find myself back at the S Bahn terminal. I have no idea whether my 39 Euro ticket includes the S Bahn ticket (that seems unlikely somehow, but what do I know) so I use the machine to purchase an S Bahn ticket. The Germans are scary about their tickets – you rarely get checked, but if you did I wouldn’t want to be part of that discussion in the absence of a ticket.

A nice young woman, looking not at all sweaty, tells me where the platform is. It is, of course, where I was a half hour ago.

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Predictably, the train is not there. I have run through the station, not asked pertinent questions, and soaked through my one clean shirt – and it’s not arrived yet.

Cool cool.

But there’s still the four minute changeover to think about. The S Bahn comes – smooth as anything, slick and red and clean and basically the exact opposite of the Toronto subway – and ticks along calmly to the next stop. I’m staring at the map, which looks like there are three stops between where I am and where I want to go. It does not seem reasonable at the leisurely pace the train is traveling that we can possibly arrive in time. But no one else looks stressed. Indeed, no one even looks sweaty!

The train pulls in at the relevant station – something starting with U involving several umlauts – and I can see the Nuremberg train on the opposite platform.

Now people are moving. Several women my age hop off the train, and power down the stairs with heavy bags. Men – predictably – meander slowly down the steps, blocking our path.

Arriving on the correct platform, the train still hasn’t moved, and one of the other women launches herself at the button to open the doors. We all pile on, some of us looking rather more disheveled than others. I anticipate the train gliding away just as I set my bag on the floor.

But it doesn’t. It just sits there. For another 15 minutes!

It’s fine. I’ll get over it soon.

The whole rest of the journey was completely uneventful. The train arrived when it should.

I went to a cute coffee shop called Pockets.

I killed time in the hotel lobby because self-check in means there is no human to talk to about when your room might be ready, you just have to keep trying the machine.

The darn check in machine.

And then I taught English online to my three private language students in Canada.

Between students, I ran over to a little Japanese place and got “Vegi Anti Corona” ramen (the name alone was really the reason for this choice) and ate it in my room whilst watching Taskmaster.

Ramen and TaskMaster

My only potentially useful takeaway from this story is: do not be tempted by underground tunnels EVEN when they indicate they will take you where you need to go. Getting from Stuttgart to Nuremberg did not need to be this hard.

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