Posted January 31st, 2014, 06:12 PM
Our preference when traveling in Europe is to go by train, unless the trip is 6 hours or more. We travel as early as possible so as to maximize our time in the cities we visit.
We purchase tickets well in advance on http://www.bahn.de/i/view/USA/en/index.shtml. I do recommend first class for a longer trip and make sure you are there and ready to board at least 15 minutes prior to departure. Storage is limited to pack accordingly. Huge suitcases are not practical.
Good advice and worth trying, although I don't know if you will be able to buy these tickets online.
For a 2012 river cruise from Budapest to 'Prague' (we ended in Regensburg and got ourselves to Prague via rail), we bought tickets through the Deutsche Bahn or OBB (Austrian Rail) websites for all the legs of a pre-cruise rail trip from Munich to Budapest (Munich to Salzburg, Salzburg to Vienna and Vienna to Budapest), and tried to buy tix for Regensburg to Prague as well. We found that we could not purchase the leg from Regensburg to Prague online; we got an error message whenever we tried.
Perhaps for a rail trip originating in Prague and ending inside Germany you will have better luck. In the end, we went to a DB rail ticket office in Munich and purchased the Regensburg to Prague tickets in person at the window in the station. We already knew which train we wanted so it was quite easy to buy the tickets from the station agent despite our atrocious German.
The funniest part of that whole trip was that our 'direct' (same train beginning to end) rail journey from Regensburg to Prague left as planned, but once we were inside the Czech Republic the train rambled to a stop at the town of Pilzen and we were all put off the train by workers yelling in Czech. Apparently the operators had decided they just didn't want it to go any further, and someone came out and started washing the train cars while we stood around.
There wasn't any info in the station about when the next train to Prague would come along. We just ended up going 'with the herd' and watching the same people who had been put off the train with us, to see what train they reboarded. Eventually a few trains later everyone seemed to 'mobilize' and clambered onto the next arrival...so we did too. At some point we could tell by the GPS on our cell phone map that we were once again headed toward Prague.
The trains wholly within Germany and Austria, OTOH, were all quite prompt and operated as planned. The advice about not bringing a lot of baggage is a good one too; it can be unwieldy although on the DB cars there were luggage racks mid-car as well as overhead (at least in first class).
I envy your getting to go to Berlin; it's on my bucket list. Enjoy!