Last week I went to Fulda in Germany to attend the OpenNMS European User Conference. OpenNMS is an open source network management system which we make fairly heavy use of at work. The conference was an opportunity to catch up on developments in the project and get a sense of how it was being used. It was also an chance to make personal contact with a number of the developers. While open source development is typically conducted via faceless email and IRC it does help to put a face to the name every now and again.
Mindful of my experiences last year when my work trip to South Africa was affected by a certain Icelandic volcano I opted for an entirely overland trip this time. I left my house at around 10.30 in the morning and arrived in Frankfurt by 21.30. The journey was lengthened somewhat by a 2 hour wait at Brussels for the Deutsche Bhan train to Frankfurt. However I was able to find a suitably WiFi enabled place to sit down and continue work.
So while being a long journey it was considerably less hassle than going via plane. The amount of interruption to stuff I needed to do was limited to walking between platforms. As soon as I boarded the train I was able to open up my laptop and get on with some work. In fact I probably had one of the most productive days of hacking for some time as I was mercifully free of the distractions a typical day on the office throws at me.
There is a difference between the EuroStar and the DB trains though. The EuroStar trains are getting on a bit and the upholstery is a little tatty although the ride is still very smooth. In contrast the German trains are very well cared for, clean and with a silky smooth ride. I'm certainly looking forward to when DB over direct services to Holland and Germany from St Pancras. When those services start running I'll be able to the same journey door to door in around 6 and half hours which will be much more competitive time wise with those ash-prone planes.