A whole week, and the jetlag doesn’t seem to want to go. I collapse at 7 or 8pm, sleep (with a little trizolam) like a branch, with horrid dreams, and with barely a bathroom-break, and I am awake at 6am. Bother! Today I forced myself to stay in bed till eight, but I could see the proto-day shining between the curtains … so I gave in, got up, had a soakish bath and opened the window on … the most perfect spring day.
And a message from Wendy saying, hurrah! At last it had rained on Gerolstein. Each to his/her own!
Now, just because the day outside is promising, doesn’t mean I have the day off. The morning had to be spent on investigating Miss Ellen Fitton of Kirkburton (soprano), but, come 1pm, it was time to feel some of that sunshine. Over the courtyard, Paul was still writing, so I put on my hoodie (his, actually, naturally I don’t own such a thing) and my Turkish beanie and set out to Humboltdhain Park. Fifteen minutes stroll would clear my head and brisken my stride nicely.
Unfortunately, between Hochstrasse 13 and the inviting park, there is a railway line. The railway line which at present out of order. I saw four men, leaning on one welder. Anyway, you have to go ‘round’ to get ‘in’. And when you do, it’s a different world. Natural parkland stretching as for as the eye can see … a beautiful crocus lawn
Flocks of daffodils
Slowly greening trees and hills
Children and dogs playing, couples sitting on benches, romatically glued to their iphones. Just a little touch of formality: a classically set-out rose garden, with red shoots waiting, soon, to bud into blossom.
I wandered for half an hour, peeped through the trees at number 13, and headed home. ‘Ready for a walk soon’? said Paul.
So I girded my loin (the right one is still a bit iffy) and we sallied forth, heading from Wedding to Mitte. Let’s see how far it is to Nordbahnhof. So off we set. Scarcely as salubrious as the Park. Wherever there is a railway there is a filthy pile of rubble and mess: if they spend so much care and money on the Park, why don’t they clean the streets, lines and empty lots?
We came on a dead railway bridge, rusting slowly away, next it a dirty chunk of wall, befouled with that talentless, unimaginative graffiti common to all countries. Why don’t they knock it down for landfill? It’s what? It’s THE Wall? That skimpy little thing? Knock it down anyway. It's past its use by date.
Along what seems to have been some kind of rail embankment (or a gun emplacement) and suddenly the Green ‘S’ of Nordbahnhof appears. I’ll be living there again in a fortnight. Maybe all the street repairs are, after two and a half years, at last finished.
Shock and horror. What have they been doing the last six months? The works haven’t progressed fifty metres! And its an obstacle course to get from my flat to the station. I don’t understand. Why are the Germans so wonderfully efficient at some things, and so utterly hopeless at others?
We didn’t pause for a beer by the Baustelle. We headed home. 8km walk in one afternoon is enough for an elderly handicapped gentleman. I am thoroughly disappointed in Invalidenstrasse. Thank goodness for the beauties of Humboldthain.