Northern Europe 2017

posted in: Europe, Photography, Railroads, Travel | 0

Its been a few weeks since the last post but for good reason. I have been travelling throughout Northern Europe half the time without internet access. Now I am in Hamburg for two weeks before setting off for India so I am slowly catching up on the updates. There will be more detailed posts later, for now here is a short summary of my journey. 


I traveled from Atlanta to Boston to fly to Amsterdam on WOW Air, a low cost carrier which only flys out of a few northeast cities. In Boston I was lucky enough to shoot a few trains including a well timed Pan Am OCS before catching my flight. 

To Europe the cheap way:

Since I had far more time this trip than in the past I decided to check out one of the low cost carriers to see if I could save money or if it would just be terrible. I chose WOW, an Icelandic carrier which flies to Europe via Reykjavik. It was quite different than my usual Delta flights, we flew a tiny A321 with no TV’s and even no food or beverage service. I had prepared for this and eaten beforehand so it was not a problem and everything went quite smoothly, if you are trying to save money I can recommend WOW. 

I’m not much of a AV Geek like many friends of mine but who doesn’t like a 747! After an all cloudy day the sun dropped under the cloud layer in the last moments of the day.


From Reykjavik we continued on to Amsterdam, my destination. Spent 4 days here and really enjoyed the city, more later but a quick recommendation is to take Sandeman New Europe tour, these free tours (paid on tips) are some of the best I’ve taken. Outside of the Red Light district check out the cities vast tram network, Line #2 has been ranked as one of the best tram lines in the world and takes you from central station across the cities outer canals to the Rijksmuseum and into the Amsterdam suburbs. 


The Hague

The Hague was really an unplanned stop due to being unable to get a room in Amsterdam due to a music festival on the last night of my trip. I did not get to see a whole lot of the city but bought a day ticket and explored its tram network which was quite interesting and used some older GTL-8 trams. In the summer the network also utilizes historic PCCs on a tourist loop but unfortunately they were not running during my visit. The Hague also has some nice beaches west of the city center at Schevenigen which are easily accessible by tram. I liked the Hague much more than I expected and think I will have to return one day. 


For the next few weeks I will be staying in Hamburg where I have rented an apartment from a friend, this port city has alot to offer both culturally and railway wise. I have just started to scratch the surface of both but you can expect more photos from here soon. 

Plandampf im Werratal

One of the main reasons for timing the trip for late October was to attend the Plandampf im Werratal event in Germany. Plandampf is a German railway event which started after the fall of the Berlin wall when there was suddenly a vast amount of operable steam and railway lines that retained their historic character (old stations, semaphores, etc). The idea was to replace regular passenger and freight trains with steam hauled ones, ie Scheduled Steam which is the rough translation. To fund the operation participants would pay a fee beforehand, if the threshold was met the trains would run, if not the event was cancelled and everyone got a refund. This was designed to prevent people from “freeloading” and has worked fairly well. Today the event is not quite what it used to be, it is more like an extended photo charter with most of the trains running purely for the photographers, this year the passenger trains could not even be ridden by the tour participants. The programs future has been in danger for some years so I wanted to experience incase it does not last. Even though the trains are no longer real it was still quite a spectacle seeing so much steam running on the mainlines in both freight and passenger service. A big thanks goes to Steven Brown for bringing me along, was great meeting another US railfan with an interest in international railways. 

Diesels in the east

After Plandampf I met up with Thomas Kalbisch who I had met on the FCCA in Peru, Thomas is living in Hannover so after a night there we headed east in search of sun, diesels and semaphores, we were very successful in all categories with some big help from a fellow railfan who offered to drive which let us capture even more diesel action than I thought would be remotely possible. 

The streetcar museum without streets

With the weather looking less favorable for serious rail photography we decided to visit the Hannover tram museum. The museum is in a strange location for a tram museum, far outside the city and not connected to Hannovers large network. The museum utilizes a former salt mine site which was later converted into a munitions depot during WWII. The museum has an extensive fleet of trams and two lines, one which runs in a circle around the property and the other along the old connection to the DB mainline which is now severed. Though a museum the line is packed with great photo opportunities that look more like far eastern Europe than west Germany. 

Hope to soon have detailed trip reports for each of these places but hope you enjoy this brief preview for now!