Euro travels

Euro travels
Cologne, Germany

Cologne, Germany

“He did this like thing where he was like, running up the stairs and like doing loops.”

Sometimes conversation happens around you, sometimes you are subjected to it. The actual subject escapes me, because I am able to drown them out intermittently, though I know he has no picture because his phone was out of “battray”. I am reminded of the dangers of having kids-yours too may become posh 16 year olds, marvellously, if misplacedly, over confident, but irritating to an enormous degree. I suppose if the parents talk in the same voice then it might not seem too bad that your kids have such odd diction. Gemma, Chloe, Jasper and Purvis. Those are their (like) friends.

After a slightly panicked morning, packing, booking a train to Moscow and accommodation there, I am, I guess, ready. The Eurostar is on time, I’ve had lunch and there’s nothing much else to test me. Other than the, like, temptation to, like, add like to every half sentence. Plus, of course, that to reduce the population by up to three. Perhaps two would do-with only one left he’d have no one to talk to. Or talk at-one asked the other if he could get him into festivals, and he listed several that he couldn’t get him into, even after being told it was fine. I can’t get you into Glastonbury. That’s fine. I can get myself in, but not you. Almost as if much of what he said was for show.

The journey was uneventful. Posh youths left for their adventure-three weeks for which they’ve been told they’re a bit young, though perhaps someone was in a rush and couldn’t get the word annoying out in time. A French group joined there, creating the sense of being elsewhere, finally. I’ve an hour to wait at Bruxelles, and another at Cologne; reading time, I think, given the weight of my stuff. A ‘tourist’ baguette-ham and trimmings-was surprisingly good at Brussels, and I settled back to read about cycling. When in Belgium.

After sitting in a slightly dingy part of the station for a while I realised that others weren’t waiting there for long. Well of course, platforms are not out of bounds, and I went to join the crowds waiting for the 18:25 db service to Cologne. The train was clean and nicely upholstered. Really, that’s the most important bit to mention, and I settled in for a shortish trip, under two hours, seemingly surrounded mostly by English speaking voices, albeit with Australian adding more colour to the accents.

Arriving at Cologne all looks familiar. This may be because other stations look similar, but I have been here before, too. I grab some currywurst, all the better to be German when on a flying visit, and take probably the same picture of the cathedral, with an equal lack of camera skill, as before.

Looking at the list of departures, my train seems to be going to Warsaw. That worries me, because that was the other train-to-parkrun possibility, so it seems possible somehow that I looked at one whilst trying to book another, though that would be completely at odds with what’s on my ticket. Unless I’ve picked up Dr Who’s psychic paper and printed a ticket on it. I look and look, but can make no sense of it, mentally checking my geography to make sure there’s no way a train could sensibly take in Denmark and Poland. Looking at the timetable, there’s a train listed to Copenhagen on top of the Warsaw one. I decide not to queue for information, double and triple checking the date on my ticket, but head for the platform anyway. There, a helpful diagram-which has been a feature of my use of German trains so far-shows that some carriages go to Prague, some Warsaw, and some Copenhagen. Oh. It’s a little more important that you get this right than “passengers for x station please make sure you are in the front 4 cars” but with a variation on that theme I am reassured. The information board seems to me to imply my bit is arriving 15m later than the rest, but I’ve read it wrong and the whole train is late. The east European part is much newer, but as soon as I’m on board the slightly more creaky looking Dutch bound section I’m excited, with a grin spreading over my face involuntarily-and purely because I spot the sleeping compartments, not because I’ve lucked out and am sharing with two women and their three excited daughters.

Two people talk on the street in Brussels, shops and 10 storey buildings with glass frontage behind them
A bit of Brussels.

Excited by the journey, that is to say. Honestly, where did your mind go. But their energy is so much better than the heaving sweaty fat men, which all but the most optimistic surely expect to share with. The ticket check is quick so now, at 10pm, there’s nothing more needed than to fall asleep. Of course, having dozed on the Eurostar and got excited by the sleeping carriages (and already I feel I am protesting this as the sole reason, though it is probably easy to believe there, reading on screen, just seems it should be less so here, surrounded by brown flesh) I am wide awake, but the journey takes till 10am so there’s no 7am chuck out as with some British sleepers. We stopped near midnight. I assume to detach bits of train and send them on their way, though after a long while we were also joined by a noisy group. Their arrival explains the empty compartments-I had wondered why I was filling up a space with a group of 5, but it makes sense to have people who got on at the same stop in the same compartment, they’re more likely to fade out at the same time. The noisy group spent some time walking the corridors, taking, knocking, trying to get out at two in the morning. But eventually it was pretty quiet. Whether the arrival of the Bunsen polizei in the morning was related, I couldn’t say.

Gothic cathedral, upper half still lit by the sun
Dom, Cologne.

I caught: 11.47 St Margarets to Tottenham Hale, tube, 14.04 Eurostar to Brussels, arr 17.15, 18.25 Brussels to Cologne, arr 20.20, 21.25 to Copenhagen.

Summary: cool journey through the night. Reading: Summer at Villa Rosa, the oldie and cyclist.


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