Day 0 part 2. The Sleeper train.
On the platform we found the usual clump of cyclists and also the board showing the train carriages. We had to walk around two hundred metres up the platform to where our compartment would be. At the other end of the train there was another bike carriage as the train would split at some point in the night our section heading up to Copenhagen and the other to Poland and the Czech Republic.
We heard from the couple from Amsterdam that the night train was scheduled to stop for only three minutes in Duisburg. So four of us with bikes and bags shouldn't be too much of a rush? It didn't turn out like that. Another couple decided that although they had tickets for the other bike compartment and were indeed going to the Czech Republic that they were going to put their bikes in our compartment. Thus six bikes and sets of bags had to go into the compartment in three minutes.
When the train arrived we saw to our amazement that the bike compartment had a standard width door and the floor was three steps up from the platform. To make matters worse a trail of around ten (American) backpackers decided that the bike compartment was 'the place' to get in and clustered around our door. So six bikes, with bags and cyclists plus ten backpackers in three minutes. Mayhem!!!
We did all make it into the train on time, however sorting out the bags and bikes took around fifteen minutes. The arrangement of the bike stands in the carriage was very different to the first train we had taken. The hooks were against the wall between around a metre from the ground but with very little space between them. The compartments was around a third of the size of the one on the train to Duisburg and it was rather difficult with all the bike bags and two extra bikes and people to get the bikes in their correct places. In the end we hung one bike up and parked the second one next to it as it was simply not possible to get it into position.
We then had to walk four carriages down the train with sets of panniers hanging off us. Once again our fellow travellers surprised us. Around five fellow travellers refused to move from the corridor as we approached them. I gave up trying to politely ask them to move after the first two and just pushed past them.
We found our sleeper compartment with no trouble and were greeted by the carriage attendant who checked our tickets and asked what we wanted for breakfast and when we wanted to be woken up. A few minutes and we had all our panniers stowed in the compartment and were ready for bed.
The night passed a little fitfully as usual, I am getting more used to sleeping in trains but it is still a little strange. The beds were big enough and the climate control kept the cabin at a nice temperature. The facilities on the train were good, a large toilet at one end of the carriage and a shower at the other end and a basin in the cabin itself.