Our ICE train flew up the tracks from Munich to Hamburg, traveling over 900 km in 6 hours. We hit 250 km per hour on the high speed track between Wurzburg and Hannover; soon the entire route will be high speed track, and the trip will be down to 5 hours. At top speed, cars on the nearby freeways seem to plod along, and the little villages and farms next to the track just flash by. The ride is extremely smooth, except sometimes when going over switches between tracks.

We are developing an image of train reservations agents that is something like that green devil in the painting in Munich; today we found that when we had reserved two seats, first class, non-smoking, on ICE 880, from Munich, to Hamburg Altona, 9.47 hours, Friday, 13 October, window seats, we had forgotten to say "adjoining" . . . (Sigh!) Fortunately, there were plenty of empty seats and we swapped around.

But we have learned that reservations are sometimes necessary; there are only three cars on the boat-train to Copenhagen, and our first choice train was already fully reserved. Our train from Munich, which started out nearly empty, was nearly full by the time we reached Hannover.

We treated ourselves to lunch on the dining car; good food, nicely served, slightly more expensive than a restaurant. The afternoon passed quickly, and we arrived in Hamburg feeling fresh. It was much nicer than a plane trip.

The Hamburg train station is another engineering marvel; the huge steel-and-glass arched roof is the length of a football field in both directions. When we arrived, it was teeming with a mix of backpackers, commuters, large families, older couples, shiftless young men, and immigrants. Everyone, the slow, the frail and the sprinters, seems to catch the right train.

In Hamburg a demonstration relating to the Middle East fighting was due to begin. Efficient German police were busily closing streets and re-directing traffic, but our cabbie got permission to take us through the barricades to our hotel. The demonstration never seemed to materialize, though, and we found ourselves in a lovely neighborhood a couple blocks from the Alster, a man made lake.