I only use a german-polish dictionary, and though they have many translations for "to arrive", they don't translate dotrzec as arriving exactly (but as "gelangen"). So to me, there's the idea of it being difficult, "they finally made it through to germany (after many trials)", sort of. Is there that kind of connotation in the polish term?
No, not after many trials. Maybe it would be easier if we had a specific city, because "do Niemiec" may be a bit confusing (does it imply the Polish-German border, or just the destination which happens to be in Germany?)
So "Pociąg dotarł do Berlina" just means that the train reached Berlin. Actually it doesn't have to be the final destination of the train.
Thanks Jellei for explanation. But there is something else that throws me off here... There are so many words for going (by foot/vehicle) or arriving/leaving... Can someone explain the differences shortly and when to use them (+ the corresponding English translations)
Hard to figure out by searching...
- iść / pójść
- chodzić / pochodzić
- jechać / przyjechać / odjechać
- jeżdżąc / przyjeżdżać / odjeżdżać
iść - the general notion of "to go", technically on foot, although often also 'the vehicle is irrelevant' (Idę do kina = I'm going to the cinema, doesn't matter that I'm taking a bus).
pójść - the perfective variant, which makes it used mostly in Past Tense/Future Simple (On poszedł do kina = He went to the cinema, Ona pójdzie do kina = She'll go to the cinema), although sometimes in the infinitive as well - we can say that in the infinitive it's interchangeable with "iść" (Chcesz [iść/pójść] ze mną do sklepu? = Do you want to go to the store with me?). In such a sentence "iść" doesn't really focus on the duration (it's not like "Do you want to be going..."), although in a way we could perhaps call that usage colloquial.
"chodzić" - the 'habitual' variant of going on foot, as in "Ona chodzi do szkoły" (She goes to school = She is a pupil/student), or "Rzadko chodzimy do muzeum" (We rarely go to the museum). Same 'vehicle is irrelevant' notion is applied both here and to "pójść".
"pochodzić" - it may theoretically mean "to walk for a bit" (Chcę sobie pochodzić po parku = I want to walk around the park for some time, no direction, no destination, just walk - note that 'sobie' which doesn't really translate and is hard to explain, it's kinda like "I just wanna take a walk for myself"), but mostly it means "to come", as in "to originate" ("Moi rodzice pochodzą z Francji" = "My parents come from France") or "To wino pochodzi z Włoch" = "This wine comes from Italy").
"jechać" - it's like "iść" but with a wheeled vehicle. So "Jadę do kina" also translates to "I'm going to the cinema" but this time it is sure that I'm using some vehicle.
"przyjechać" - to come somewhere by car, perfective. "Kiedy chcesz przyjechać?" (When do you want to come? - for example when inviting someone for a visit, and it's sure that this someone won't manage to come to my place on foot).
"odjechać" - rather "to depart" (perfective), for a wheeled vehicle (okay now... do trains have wheels? maybe I'm oversimplifying it, cause this one works very well with trains :D). "Pociąg odjechał o siódmej" = "The train has departed at seven". Another translation could probably be "to leave", perhaps something else... well, you get the idea, a vehicle leaves to go somewhere else.
"jeżdżąc" is a participle (Chudnę, jeżdżąc na rowerze = I lose weight while/by riding a bike), so I guess it's a mistake and you meant "jeździć", which is the vehicle equivalent of "chodzić". "Adam często jeździ do Niemiec" = Adam often goes to Germany. While most probably he drives or at least is a passenger in a car/bus, this also allows for an interpretation that he flies there, if you consider the plane irrelevant.
"przyjeżdżać" and "odjeżdżać" are basically habitual variants of "przyjechać" i "odjechać". So for example they make a lot of sense with the train schedule: "Pociąg z Krakowa przyjeżdża o dziesiątej" (The train from Kraków comes at ten) or "Pociąg do Warszawy odjeżdża o ósmej" (The train to Warsaw departs at eight).
Hope it makes things clearer for you and anyone who reads it :)