Stories of this Canadian girl's adventures exploring Europe & beyond...join me!

Friday, July 13, 2012

train stop

This morning, I got off the train at the second stop.  I had never been here before, but in my quest to experience something new each week, I decided to venture out and see a new town.  My first impressions, looking through the window as the train comes to a stop, lots of grafitti (not uncommon) and a completely deserted platform (uncommon).  I step down from the train, look around and see the train station to my left…all boarded up, dilapidated and immediately I fight the urge to turn around, start running and to fling myself back onto the train as it’s pulling I've seen people in movies do a million times.  No luck, the train is gone, and I am here to stay, at least until the next one comes.  Ok, no problem, I'm sure this place isn't that bad.  Let's explore.  

I head out onto the street, past the once-upon-a-time train station and looking up and down I see just rows of dull, faded houses.  In search of a main street I start walking. I really need a coffee and something to eat.  The yogurt I ate about five hours ago, before my business English class in the city seems like a distant memory.   I walk and walk, turning corners, seeing more and more houses.  Man, where is a bakery when you desperately need one?  Normally, there are about 5 on each block, in every little German town.  But, not here.  I haven't even seen a person...I think only houses live here.  I see street names like 'Klosterstrasse' and 'Goethestrasse' and, forgetting my grumbling stomach, am filled with hope that getting off here wasn't a huge waste of time.  I walk and walk, but not a convent or statue or cathedral or park in sight.  Nothing.  Just houses.  I'm beginning to think that I should've at least told someone of my plan to get off here.  They probably would've said, “You’re going where? Budenheim?”

I keep walking.  There has got to be a post office or store or bank here somewhere. I turn another grey corner and across the street, in front of me, is a massive chemical plant.  Super.  Why isn't this in my guidebook?  If I actually had a guidebook, it would most likely say, 'do not stop in Budenheim, unless you unfortunately have to work at the big, fume-spewing chemical plant with thousands of other poor souls".  But, I will say that the grounds surrounding the plant are very clean and manicured...I am still in Germany of course.

Then I feel the first raindrop.  Thinking that I should find the umbrella which is somewhere in my giant bag, the heavens open up and it starts to pour.  I quickly struggle to open my cheap umbrella which I have learned to carry with me now that I live in Germany.  I don't even think I owned an umbrella when I lived in Canada.  I had a sleeping bag, a flashlight, a bottle of water and some granola bars in my car at all times, in case I got stuck in a snowstorm, but an umbrella?  We usually just waited five minutes and the weather would change…to snow.

(Writer's interruption:  a train just flew by the platform, going so fast my heart almost stopped.  I'm writing this, while sitting on a beaten-up, old bench on the station platform and apparently so few people want to get off here that it’s a rare train which makes the effort to stop.  So, I wait and I write.  Luckily, I have nowhere important to be at the moment.  Great guy and the romanian are working day and night on the baustelle, trying to get the last flat in the big haus finished by August.  I have the good fortune of seeing them only when I call them in for supper, which also happens to be when I feel most like Caroline Ingalls...especially if I happen to be wearing my apron and bonnet.)

After passing the chemical plant I see a small hill and decide to go high and get a lay of the land.  I stubbornly think that there must be something redeeming about this town and I'm hoping that from above I will finally see all the pretty, cultural things.  All of a sudden, the wind picks up and tries to rip the umbrella out of my hands.  The spokes flip up and as I struggle to get them back down I'm pelted with rain.  Now I'm drenched.  I think I'm close to giving up.  At the top of the hill, all I see is a distant church tower, the fuming chimneys of the plant, and houses.  I can't even see the Rhein from here, and I thought this was a river town.

Oh, thank the good lord, a train just stopped.  I'm getting on it and I don't even care where it's going.  This was 25 minutes of my life which I'm never getting back, but at least I did what I set out to do...see something new.  Why, again, did I want to do that?

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