Hamburg and Copenhagen: A trip on rail, road, sea and air

Hamburg and Copenhagen: A trip on rail, road, sea and air

Covering 600+ kilometers in Germany in a spacious, comfortable private railway cabin at just 30 Euros and arriving perfectly on time at the destination requires luck. Favorable turn of events made this experience a reality when I took the NightJet NJ40470 train operated by the Austrian Railways (ÖBB - Österreichische Bundesbahnen) from Karlsruhe to Hamburg (https://rail.cc/en/night-train/zurich-hamburg-nj-40470/500). The 6-seater cabin I was allotted had hardly any occupants and I could stretch my legs on the recliner seats for a comfortable nap in the climate-controlled cabin. A sleeper cabin (incl. breakfast) in these NightJet trains readily costs around 100 Euros, even if booked 3-4 months in advance.   Starting the trip with the usual free walking tour (https://www.neweuropetours.eu/), I got to know that Hamburg (supposedly deriving its name from  'Hammaburg' roughly meaning 'Castle on the rivers', as the Elbe and Alster rivers flow here) has a long history of tax-free sea trade, culminating in its today's status of being a gateway to Germany. More Vegan/Vegetarian options at Restaurants and cheaper public transport options are noteworthy. The city...
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From Deutschland to the capital of the Dutch Land

From Deutschland to the capital of the Dutch Land

One of the many benefits of a public holiday falling on a Wednesday is that the week ends as soon as it begins. The German Reunification Day on October 3rd this year was one such instance allowing a 5-day weekend (of course only after taking 2 days off at work). Planning one's own vacation Taking cue from past experiences of friends, my friend and I did our travel and stay bookings 3-4 months in advance. A bit conservative, but was worth the efforts for an economical yet relaxing vacation. At under 70 Euros/person, the room was cozy with the amenities adequate for the short stay (https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/20822949). The super organized host made the stay that much more pleasant. The Flixbus round trip too was a reasonable 70-80 Euros, with direct connections & travel duration of 8-9 hours in each direction with minimal or no delays (One should always thank one's lucky stars if the Flixbus connections are punctual !) First Impressions Shortly after crossing the borders, 6/8/10-lane highway roads with green fields on either side welcomed us...
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Pursuing a Masters in Hochschule Esslingen (Part 2)

Here I attempt to address the question 'How much German is required?' from a varied perspective of mine. Read http://thelanguedge.com/2017/01/02/b1-or-not-a-b1/ and other articles from The Languedge's blog which offer the valuable insights of many others. It is valid to also say that the contents of these apply more than to just applicants of Hochschule Esslingen. To know about the admission process at Esslingen, read part 1 of the article from the blog. Self-interrogation should be step one - always Firstly, try asking yourself the following questions. How long do you plan to live in Germany? After graduation, do you intend to work for a German organization? Do you intend to do Internships or apply for jobs here? Do you dislike being a mute participant in conversations/discussions with German speakers? What are your constraints (family, financial, age)? Some of your answers might not be very well formulated. But assuming, things work out. What then? Take a sheet of paper and try drawing a timeline for yourself 5 to 10 years down the line. This important...
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Pursuing a Masters in Hochschule Esslingen (Part 3)

In this article, I make an attempt to compile a few frequently asked questions (FAQs) that I have received from applicants in the past (and are likely to remain frequent in years to come as well). Part 1 on admission process and part 2 on German language skills can be found in the blog. Q from applicant : Which course should I choose ? ASM or DDM ? A: Ask yourself what you want to pursue. ASM is more along the lines of Control Engineering while DDM is extensively on physical structures and materials. Write on a piece of paper your skills, interests, career plan 5-10 years ahead. Read course module information from the University website or get in touch with students to know about what is taught in a subject if needed (It is fine if much of these seem threatening and unfamiliar. That's the reason you are applying. To learn them). Explore and gather as much information yourself before seeking help...
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Pursuing a Masters at Hochschule Esslingen (Part 1)

Pursuing a Masters at Hochschule Esslingen (Part 1)

Winter is coming. Oh no, this has nothing to do with the Starks of Winterfell. It is that time of the year when tens of thousands of students are investing time, effort and money for GRE, TOEFL, IELTS, Language classes, University applications, Courier services and lots more. Or probably they are in the process of planning (thinking) these and wondering if they should invest. Like the year before. And the year before that. And the several years gone by in the past decades. And among them are a few hundreds who maybe interested in studying at Germany, a subset of which likely has their eyes set on Esslingen. As a former student of the Hochschule Esslingen  University of Applied Sciences, I intend to offer a glimpse into what you are getting into. If your aspirations are sincere, you might as well be patient and invest a few minutes here. For those of who who started reading this without concrete information about the English-taught study programs at Hochschule Esslingen, I recommend doing so before reading on...
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Walking Tour – An experience for free and a glimpse of my three

Walking Tour – An experience for free and a glimpse of my three

The cost of public transportation in many major European cities, can very quickly empty one's pockets. So, if you are someone looking to explore the cities of Europe, and keen to do so with minimal expenses (typically students), then Free walking tours can be very handy. Usually an extensive narration of the city's history along with a tour of the key landmarks, these walking tours save one the trouble of having to plan quite extensively yet explore a lot. My first experience of a free walking tour was at Strassbourg, a city in the eastern part of France (called the Alsace Region). Located not far from the Rhine river which separates the German-French border, one can arrive here from Germany by train (typically French high-speed TGVs or the German ICEs/ICs) as well as by intercity bus services from operators such as FlixBus. The city has repeatedly come under German rule in the past and the effects of this is quite noticeable. Owing to this and the European Union's relaxed border controls, it would be no surprise if one momentarily forgets being...
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A Saturday Trek at Schwarzwald

A Saturday Trek at Schwarzwald

The Schwarzwald (English: Black Forest) located in Baden-Wuerttemberg, the south-western state of Germany, is a name constantly repeated by travel and nature enthusiasts. Even by food lovers, who love to occasionally enjoy a Black Forest cake. The onset of warmer days from May to August/September is a welcome call for Trekkers in Germany. While having never really trekked in the past myself, the ad I spotted accidentally in the local newspaper (benefits of reading German) sparked a thought to sign up for one. The ad spoke of a local club organizing a one-day Trek starting at Durmersheim, a town located 8-10 kms south-west of Karlsruhe, and invited even non-members to join if interested. Couple of weeks later, we were all boarded on the local train (called 'Murgtalbahn' informally, meaning the train that runs in the valley of the river Murg. Hint: Geographical features and City/town names are very closely linked). In a group of 30 odd people, I was the only Indian and perhaps the youngest at 26 years of age,...
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Fahrzeug, Feast and Friends at Frankfurt

Fahrzeug, Feast and Friends at Frankfurt

In the Land that's renowned for it's invention of the motorized transportation and Automobile brands, it was exciting to personally visit, along with friends, the International Motor Show (German: IAA - Internationale Automobil Ausstellung) at Frankfurt in September this year. It was a 2-day trip with the major chunk of Day 1 at the Motor Show. For those of you who have heard/read little about it, the Motor Show puts on display the Passenger vehicles in the odd years at Frankfurt while the even years focus on Commercial vehicles (at Hannover). With personal mobility seemingly at crossroads with the buzz about 'self-driving vehicles' and 'alternate energy sources' stronger than ever before, the Motor Show this year was much different than in the past decades. I leave the task of enlightening the reader more about the IAA to Google. Just for the record, my friends and I personally participated as passengers in a free demo from Bosch for the Automated Emergency Braking that work's on stereo camera based setup (related clip below). There was another demo from Continental...
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Being Vegetarian in Germany

Being Vegetarian in Germany

Fear of the unknown can be tough to handle. And being a vegetarian myself, who has relished the tasty treats of a Vegetarian tradition, coming to Germany for my education sounded challenging. The million dollar question “Will I still be able to eat the customary handful of curd rice after a meal?” You have had the same thought didn't you? Feel like a King. Try Cooking Except for a few vegetables (like Ladies’ finger and Drumsticks), most vegetables such as Carrot, Potato, Onion, Capsicum, Cabbage, etc. are available in every Supermarket. Even the exceptions are available at Indian food stores in Stuttgart. So, cooking vegetarian specialties is doable. Constraints are usually what limit one’s choices. Identify what are your constraints. While eating out requires more money, cooking by oneself needs patience and time. Sharing your cooking chores with friends can be a great plus! Makes it more fun too. In my experience, this is among the best things that makes one feel at...
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The best of my trip to Berlin

The best of my trip to Berlin

After reunification of East and West, Berlin is surely one among the best. Located approximately 650 kms to the northeast of Esslingen, it surely is a long journey in European standards. But in comparison to the Indian sub-continent, the journey can appear quite small as it only covers as much distance as in a Chennai-Kochi or a Chennai-Hyderabad drive. After a 3-day vacation at Ingolstadt and Munich, February’s last weekend was a trip planned to Germany’s capital city Berlin. (To read about my first vacation trip to Munich and Ingolstadt, follow the link http://thelanguedge.com/2017/02/21/my-first-vacatio…en-to-ingolstadt/) Since direct trains from Stuttgart to Berlin were expensive for a student budget and anything cheaper required changing trains more than once, FlixBus was chosen for the trip (FlixBus is a private Omnibus services and among the cheapest options, especially preferred by students). Economical one-way tickets cost 20 €/person Exploring Berlin by foot or bike The beauty of Berlin is in the fact that so much history lies buried at the heart...
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