Doing life right, at home and away

Tag: trains

Walking off the ferry

Of leaving the island (and crossing back to the continent)

Every adventure will eventually come to an end: from the Scotland back to Germany via Brighton and Dieppe, and whatever other places, again. Took trains, more trains and even more trains.

Went on the ferry, only got a little sea sick, traumatised the dog – the usual overland/water travel experience!

Dealing with more trains ahead, trains on trains, because we like trains so much, we got some trains in our trains.

Xhibit - yo dawg trains in trains

Feels weird going back, but it’s definitely time. I’m missing the cats like crazy.

Inverness near the castle

Of taking trains north (to Inverness)

We left Portsmouth with a Southwest train heading to London King’s Cross, with Inverness as our final destination.

We had gotten a fabulous deal with an early booking and travelled first class from London to Inverness. Though it’s perfectly okay travel in the standard class with a dog, we thought that investing in both our and other passenger’s comfort was well worth the extra 20 quid and it turned out to be an excellent decision when travelling with a woofer.

It also turned out to be generally the best and the smartest thing ever, as Network Rail had been working on the tracks over Christmas (when the railway is closed) but had not gotten it done on time. All trains from London to Scotland were cancelled on the 27th, meaning that nobody who had to go north that day was able to go north that day.

These rail work delays were actually anticipated beforehand, so for two days we stalked some wonderfully, painstakingly detailed train discussion forums to get some insight on whether we should even bother going to London. I mean, if there was a chance that our reservation wouldn’t be valid due to the cancellation.

seat reservation ticket

Well, everything turned out just fine, reservations were valid and all – though even first class was fully booked. I don’t want to know how it would have been in the standard class with a dog. Someone probably would’ve punched us in the face.

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The snow-covered Austrian Alps

Of the natural geography of cities

I’ve been thinking about the natural geography of cities quite a bit. Especially having lived in three different cities and visited many more, you start to notice things and see what you’ve always taken for granted.

Being from Helsinki, I grew up near the sea. The sea was a given, a basic birth right that held no special significance until I moved away. I’ve come to realise what kind of a privilege I had had for my whole life.

In Paris, the Seine provided a little air hole, some sense of space and distance, a view – if not to the horizon, the unknown, then at least further than the end of the street.

In Karlsruhe, for a long time I felt something was a little “off”: an unidentifiable feeling, an anxiety, sometimes a bit like I was suffocating. One day, while on a quick day trip to Heidelberg, I realised what was causing it.

Karlsruhe is the ultimate landlocked city, with no water or changes of altitude. I realised that I had never lived in a city like that before and that I was not adapting very well. In Karlsruhe, you never get the possibility to disconnect from the city, to see out into the distance. You never get to see the landscape, the bigger picture, the horizon. You’re not prodded to marvel at nature, the humanity of it all. You don’t get to feel small, or to disconnect from your life and your position in it. Maybe this is an escapist viewpoint, but I cherish it none the less.

You know that part in Amélie, when she is looking over Paris from Montmartre, wondering how many couples are having an orgasm at the same time? That. In Karlsruhe, you never get to do that.

Amelie thinks orgasms

I’m writing this from the train back to Germany from Zagreb, and a big portion of the journey is through the Alps of Austria. Quite breath taking, really – endless, massive, several-kilometers-high mountains with a white snow coating and a fog curtain gently resting near the peak. Deep, long valleys with alpine towns, one after another. At one point we were so high, that the whole scenery, houses, everything – was covered in a bright white snow blanket, glimmering in the sunshine of the early morning.

The Austrian Alps, seen from the train

Sarajevo is also surrounded by mountains, the Dinaric Alpes (though they also have the Milijacka river), and it got me thinking if maybe mountains are even better? In sea shore cities, you have to go to the sea in order to appreciate its wonders. However, in many cities surrounded by mountains, you can see them from most places in the city. I can’t really describe the feeling it gives me, seeing the rolling hills, the forest, vineyards or houses on the hill, from everywhere you are.

Anyway, wherever I decide to settle, there had better be mountains or sea, or at least a big river. Or both. Or all of the above.

Leftover Balkan food for breakfast

(I also had some leftover pita for breakfast.)

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