Amsterdam, Berlin, Hamburg, & Copenhagen

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daybeers

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My girlfriend and I are traveling to Amsterdam, Berlin, Hamburg, and Copenhagen in March 2020. Below is our itinerary. Look good?

Is it worth paying the €4.50/person charge to reserve a seat? Will it be difficult to find seats together otherwise? I know this time is the break time for many U.S. and German universities.

March 13, 2020:
–Norwegian Air #DY7700 JFK–AMS 1:05 am–1:00 pm (inc. time change)

March 16:
–InterCity #149 Amsterdam Centraal–Hannover Hbf 3:00 pm–7:18 pm
–InterCity Express #643 7:31 pm–9:05 pm
Hannover Hbf–Berlin Hbf

March 19:
–InterCity Express #1604/1704 Berlin Hbf–Hamburg Hbf 9:40 am–11:24 am
–InterCity #392 Hamburg Hbf–Copenhagen 4:53 pm–9:33 pm

March 21:
–Norwegian Air #D82905 CPH-LGW 12:30 pm–1:25 pm
–Norwegian Air #DI7015 LGW–JFK 5:10 pm–9:30 pm


We've bought all the tickets except the Hamburg to Copenhagen. I bought the ICE ticket from Berlin to Hamburg a couple weeks ago because prices were going up and the Hamburg-Copenhagen section wasn't available for booking until the other day on the 19th. Now that it's available, it's much cheaper to buy a ticket with a stopover in Hamburg (~4 hours to see the Miniatur Wunderland museum), which is what I thought would happen. Is there a way to get that lower fare or did I mess up since I bought the "Supersparpries" fare and I have to buy both tickets?

Any other tips or recommendations are welcome!
 

jiml

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We've done a few ICE trips and seat assignments are a good idea. I'm presuming you've ruled out First Class, which can often be had for a very reasonable difference when booked in advance and includes assigned seats? We did see a few squabbles over seating on several legs last year - even in FC with "self-upgraders" on heavier routes. We found DB to have excellent customer service and check out www.seat61.com/Germany-trains.htm for answers to most questions, including seat maps, etc.
 

jis

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In my train travels in Europe, usually done on a Eurail Pass, I seldom get reservations unless it is obligatory or I plan on traveling on a specific train that is known to get overcrowded. I love the freedom to change my plans as I go along and sometimes experience local trains at the spur of the moment instead of a high class express, specially in very scenic areas like the Rhine Valley where the locals take the more scenic route than the fast expresses, for example.
 

daybeers

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In my train travels in Europe, usually done on a Eurail Pass, I seldom get reservations unless it is obligatory or I plan on traveling on a specific train that is known to get overcrowded. I love the freedom to change my plans as I go along and sometimes experience local trains at the spur of the moment instead of a high class express, specially in very scenic areas like the Rhine Valley where the locals take the more scenic route than the fast expresses, for example.
Gotcha. Well ICEs aren't included in those passes, right? We're budget travelers because we're college students, so we'd rather have our schedule set so we can save a little money with the super saver fares. How much is the time/$ savings for taking local trains?

There's something to be said about enjoying slower long-distance trains like those in the United States, but if I have the option to potentially pay a little more to take a train that takes a fraction of the time and even becomes cost and time-competitive with budget airlines, I'll do that. Plus, who doesn't wanna go fast? [emoji39] I'm gifted with living very close to the NEC (albeit some of the slowest parts), as well as the 110 mph running on the New Haven-Springfield Line, but none of that holds a candle to fancy smooth trainsets on well maintained track running at 260 km/h.
 

Just-Thinking-51

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If your Ok with seating solo, then skip the seat reservation. I would pay the fee, just to make sure that my partner, and I were sitting next to each other. Travel is stressful have your partner with you, and know where your sitting is a stress relief.

That simple.
 
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jiml

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Feb 27, 2019
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If your Ok with seating solo, then skip the seat reservation. I would pay the fee, just to make sure that my partner, and I were sitting next to each other. Travel is stressful have your partner with you, and know we’re your sitting is a stress relief.

That simple.
Good advice.
 

Willbridge

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Mar 30, 2019
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If your Ok with seating solo, then skip the seat reservation. I would pay the fee, just to make sure that my partner, and I were sitting next to each other. Travel is stressful have your partner with you, and know we’re your sitting is a stress relief.

That simple.
I second the motion. There are reasons for crowding that can't easily be anticipated. Depending on the route, you may want facing seats by the window or to sit side by side. In a crowding scenario neither option may be open.
 

jis

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ICEs are of course included in Eurailpass. I have traveled extensively by ICE on Eurailpass. TGVs are also included but the obligatory reservation fee is not.
 

slasher-fun

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Jan 17, 2016
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Given your itinerary :
- *Don't* buy a Eurail pass. It will be much cheaper to buy advance tickets from DB.
- Consider 1st class, usually about €10 to €20 more that 2nd class, and seat reservation is included. Note that unless you have a full fare 1st class ticket, you don't have access to the DB Lounge
- Use the stopover option on DB website. For example, instead of buying two tickets for Berlin - Hamburg - Copenhagen, buy a Berlin - Copenhagen with a 5 hr transfer in Hamburg. That will be much cheaper (for example on that particular trip when booking now: €44.90 in 2nd class with a single ticket with stopover, instead of €29.90 + €39.90 with two separate tickets)
- Uncheck the "show fastest connections" box, it sometimes pay to go a little bit slower if you're on a budget (you can cross Germany for only €44 + €8 per additional traveller if you only use regional trains for example, even at the last minute ;))
- Wait until January 1st, 2020 to buy your tickets, as the VAT rate on long-distance train in Germany will drop from 19% to 7% from that day.
 
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jis

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If you have a planned fixed itinerary with relatively few rail legs it is better to buy individual tickets in general. Eurailpass is good for a lot of unplanned spur of the moment rail riding. I tend to do the latter more. Haven’t done a planned itinerary in Europe in at least a decade [emoji57]
 

daybeers

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Jan 6, 2016
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Given your itinerary :
- *Don't* buy a Eurail pass. It will be much cheaper to buy advance tickets from DB.
- Consider 1st class, usually about €10 to €20 more that 2nd class, and seat reservation is included. Note that unless you have a full fare 1st class ticket, you don't have access to the DB Lounge
- Use the stopover option on DB website. For example, instead of buying two tickets for Berlin - Hamburg - Copenhagen, buy a Berlin - Copenhagen with a 5 hr transfer in Hamburg. That will be much cheaper (for example on that particular trip when booking now: €44.90 in 2nd class with a single ticket with stopover, instead of €29.90 + €39.90 with two separate tickets)
- Uncheck the "show fastest connections" box, it sometimes pay to go a little bit slower if you're on a budget (you can cross Germany for only €44 + €8 per additional traveller if you only use regional trains for example, even at the last minute ;))
- Wait until January 1st, 2020 to buy your tickets, as the VAT rate on long-distance train in Germany will drop from 19% to 7% from that day.
Thanks for the advice! The stopover issue is what I'm asking about: I already bought the Berlin-Hamburg ICE #1604/1704 ticket because I saw the prices were going up and it was a Super Sparpries fare, so did I mess up and now have to pay €69.80 for the whole trip or can I do something to only pay the €44.90? I just used the online form to contact them about it, so I'll see what they say.
 

slasher-fun

Train Attendant
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Jan 17, 2016
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48
Unfortunately yes you'll have to pay €69.80, the Super Sparpreis fare is non exchangeable / non refundable. But again, if you haven't bought yet the last leg, wait until January 1st @ 5:00am (GMT +1), the prices will drop of about ~10% due to the VAT rate reduction.
 

Seaboard92

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Dec 31, 2014
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As far as ICE trains and seat reservations there are a few corridors that are really bad for standees.

1. Berlin-Leipzig especially during the rush hour times. I’ve been in first class and been standing body on body in the vestibules for that run.

2. Berlin-Hamburg. Again it’s a rush hour thing more so.

3. Frankfurt-Köln on the high speed route.

4. München-Nürnberg
 

daybeers

OBS Chief
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Jan 6, 2016
Messages
685
Almost ready for our trip next week, so excited! I'm purchasing seat reservations for each reservation and see the fee may have been reduced from €4.50 to €4, so that's nice, but wanted to know if there were specific sides or coaches to sit in each train that are better for scenery or ride quality. The itinerary is in the first post: Amsterdam-Hannover-Berlin, Berlin-Hamburg, Hamburg-Copenhagen. We don't really want to be in either a mobile phone or quiet zone, but that seems to only be on the ICE trains. Some of the cars have fewer seats because of bike storage, would those be preferable due to less traffic?
 
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