The night train was not bad at all. There were two other guys in my couchette, and although one snored a bit much, I slept rather well, from about 11 pm till 5 am. The train left Budapest an hour late so I was concerned that I would miss my connection in Munich the next morning. But overnight the train caught up (usually it stops for an hour in Salzburg but it kept going to make up the time) and we arrived exactly on schedule in the morning. All I had to do was walk to my next train on the opposite platform and was soon off again to Frankfurt.
When I arrived there around lunchtime the place was jumping with World Cup fans. It was a bit chaotic, but even still, a DB customer service guy was very nice and helpful when I inquired about changing my connecting train to an earlier time. He quickly printed out two alternative options on how I could get to Essen quicker…and I jumped back on yet another train. Easy breezy…and I met lots of cool US football fans on the way to keep me company.
I’ve been really lucky with how smooth all the train travel has been going. Budapest to Essen, then Essen to Berlin…so far so good. Getting to and from the World Cup game at Gelsenkirchen was the most tedious part of my travels the last few days. National and regional transportation services in Germany seem to be operating well, but the city service before and after the big game was not as good as I thought it could be for a World Cup game. The buses were packed (and unfortunately stuffy and hot) and there just didn’t seem to be enough of them. But no major complaints — at least I made it on time and got to see my first World Cup game.