Some business trips are straightforward, appointment near a major airport and in and out in a day without a problem. Others aren’t as easy. Two weeks ago was a prime example of that. I had a trip to the North East coast of Germany planned, which could have been done fairly easy with one overnight stay. Then a second meeting made it onto the agenda and what should have been a quick trip ended in a four-day spree across Germany.
So let’s start at the beginning (for those of you hoping for some useful travel information, sorry to disappoint, but this is not going to happen, this is me writing my diary instead. So don’t say I didn’t warn you).
Tuesday was spent travelling. I needed to get to Leipzig, one of those East German cities with an airport … yet no direct flights from London. Or at least no daily flights… Ryanair does have 2-3 flights a week, needless to say, never on the days I need and never to any convenient time.
Previous trips to Leipzig had usually resulted in me flying to Berlin or Frankfurt and taking a train to Leipzig.
This time I opted for a different approach. A connecting flight from Heathrow to Leipzig via Düsseldorf.
Connecting time was around 1 hour, so no rush and even the little delay occurred on flight number one didn’t cause any major issue.
But it obviously meant most of Tuesday was spent travelling and working on the go.
From Leipzig airport it was a quick train journey into Leipzig itself. There is a direct non-stop train, which takes around 20 minutes and costs 6 Euros for a single ticket.
And since I picked a hotel that was literally opposite the main train station, it was easy to get there.
I have been to Leipzig several times (always for work), but somehow I have never actually been to Leipzig City Center. So I spent the evening walking a little (well stopping at a shop first to buy gloves and a woolen hat, as I really wasn’t prepared for the freezing cold that day).
All across the center you could see stalls for the Christmas market being set up. But it was still too early, the market wasn’t opened yet (neither was it the following Monday, when I came back to Leipzig for yet another work trip).
Wednesday morning I was picked up by one of my clients and we made our way to Chemnitz for our morning meeting.
Meeting over I was dropped at Chemnitz main station for the next leg of my journey. A train ride to Berlin (via Leipzig again). In total a trip of around three hours.
Time to grab a quick bite, then into train number one, a regional train to Leipzig. Somehow it felt a little like stepping onto the Hogwarts Express (minus the steam though). A fairly old (read ancient) train with individual compartments and manual doors that are a nightmare to operate when dragging a suitcase along with you. Luckily the train wasn’t full and it was just two of us sharing a six-seat compartment.
As I had 45 minutes to kill in Leipzig I headed for a coffee.
The train from Leipzig to Berlin was an ICE (one of the German fast trains). Which usually means you can expect certain comfort and amenities (such as power sockets next to every other seat).
To be on the safe side, I had meanwhile booked myself a seat (nothing worse than having to stand in the aisle for two hours).
But when boarding the train, it turned out that said seat was (in yet another) compartment. And the train being packed meant five out of six seats occupied. Loads of luggage already scattered around, so my suitcase had to go under the seat (well half under the seat, it didn’t quite fit and somehow it was far too much hassle for anyone else to move one of their smaller bags down to allow for mine to go into the overhead space).
Usually I enjoy train journeys (well unless all goes wrong, but in general I mean) and most times I end up chatting to random strangers along the way (don’t tell my fellow Londoners. I might be thrown out of town for that). But this was a really weird bunch. All individual travellers and somehow all 100% fun free. They were giving me looks for typing too loudly and for blowing my nose. As I had already disturbed their sanctuary with my luggage, I was very much not welcome here. Great. Thank goodness I didn’t have any phone calls during that time. And no, I wasn’t sitting in a quiet zone, I did check. But for sure you are allowed more fun in a library or morgue that you were in that compartment.
Well so be it. Thankfully I ‚only‘ had to share the space with them for an hour and 15 before getting off at Berlin Südkreuz (the original plan of going all the way to Berlin Main Station had meanwhile been abandoned as Südkreuz appeared to be the better pick up location for my next client).
Off the train I was finally allowed to breath and sneeze and laugh again 😉
Berlin wasn’t our final destination, we still had an hour and a half drive ahead of us to get to our hotel for the night. And hitting rush hour in Berlin obviously trying to get out of town.
But it would be so worth it in the end. As we were heading for a really comfy spa hotel. I had been to this particular hotel before, so was really looking forward to coming back.
And we fully intended to make the most of it. Check in done, bags dumped and off we headed to swimming pool and sauna.
I won’t share details (or photos), just believe me when I say it was relaxing and the perfect way to shake off that day and long travel.
With the ‘exercise’ bit over (ok ok i can’t fool you, more floating in salt water and sweating in sauna than swimming lengths) we went for dinner and drinks at the hotel bar.
After breakfast the next morning (all healthy to make up for the burger the evening before) it was time for yet more driving.
We had to go up north for the next meeting. So another two hours drive it was to a dealership in the middle of nowhere in a town I had never heard of and am fairly confident I will never come past again.
Visit over we continued driving (have you spotted the theme of that week yet?), final destination for the day was Heiligenhafen (Holy Harbour in English). A small coastal town by the Baltic Sea, with the island Fehmarn sitting directly opposite (connected via a bridge).
I’ve never been here before, but since my client lives there, he promised me great things.
I did not actually see much of Heiligenhafen itself (we had a brief drive through so I caught a little glimpse), but I stayed in a pretty hotel right by the beach, the Beach Motel Heiligenhafen.
It only recently opened (in 2016) and is built in New England style, so lots of bright wooden beach houses and a modern clean design. An interior architects dream really. I had one of the Ocean Rooms, with a big panorama window and a balcony overlooking the beach. Picture perfect.
As we met in the hotel’s own restaurant Holy Harbour for dinner, I did not really venture out that day.
But with the first glimpses of day light out on Friday morning, I took the chance and went for a run along the promenade. I mean why wouldn’t you if it is right in front of you. A tad chilly (as in 3 degrees that morning), but greeted with an empty beach and a soothing sunrise. Great.
After breakfast (I completely forgot to take photos of the breakfast selection, so you will have to go and check it out yourself) I checked out, was picked up and headed towards Hamburg for my flight back. Finally.
All in all it was a good week. But travelling for four days for the sake of having two meetings and being away from home for three nights isn’t really ideal.
And yes, explaining to Mr T that I was busy working all week – whilst sharing photos of spa hotels and beach views – was a little tricky as well 😉
But I’d happily come back to Heiligenhafen for a holiday. Have you been?