Spotted outside a pharmacy in Leon/France. Love the look of shock and delight on the little boy’s face
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I don’t know how many times I’ve come across this bridge on the train. Many many times during my years at university! More times than my parents care to remember, I’m sure, as they spent way too much times at Hamburg-Dammtor, waiting for my train to arrive. It’s a cold, draughty station (aren’t they all?) and despite their reputation abroad, German trains are not always on time. So all too often my parents would venture into McDonald’s (something they would ordinarily NEVER do) for an apple pie and to warm up.
Meanwhile, I would have been on the train for many hours already, making my way north. Slowly the hills would disappear and the land would become flat (and I mean really flat)! A sure sign that I didn’t have far to go. That I was nearly home. Then the warehouses started appearing, the cranes that move containers, side arms of the River Elbe. The excitement grew!
Hauptbahnhof always felt like a bit of an annoying delay. Most passengers got off there, the train became very quiet. Then we set off again. I wanted to stay seated for as long as I could, to be able to really enjoy this view. The view that says “home” like few others do. Instead I collected my stuff and headed into the corridor, awkwardly crouching down because I really didn’t want to miss THE VIEW. And then I was home.
On the return journey, the view was the same, yet the feelings were very different. There was a quiet sadness at leaving, yet also an excitement that started to build as I got ready to return to my “other life”.
I haven’t come across this bridge in a long time. For many years, I was living abroad and arriving at the airport became the new normal. Now I’m back in the country and do often travel by train again. These days, though, I get off at Hauptbahnhof and therefore miss the view. Life changes.
Yet when this picture appeared on my Facebook feed, I was instantly back in that place and time. All those feelings were real again. The view that carries so many emotions.
The View That Says Home.
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It’s nearly midnight but still warm. It feels like the whole city is out on the streets, celebrating. Groups of people everywhere. Laughing, chatting, drinking. Kids running around. Sometimes I hear music, usually the sound of an accordion, and people would be dancing to it. Out on the street.
We came into town to watch the fireworks and now it’s time to head home. For us and for thousands of other people. Yet the city has not put on any additional trams or buses. After a brief moment of thinking “Isn’t that typical – why doesn’t anything ever work here?” (but not saying it, as I don’t want to offend my local friend) we decide that trying to walk home is preferable to waiting for hours for a tram. And so we start walking.
I have never seen the city like this! There is a sense of fun and enjoyment that you don’t normally see in public. The reserved, the suspicious people are showing their lighter side.
This is my last evening here before I leave the country and start building a life in a whole new place. It’s been a tough year. Many many times I’ve just wanted to pack up and leave. The language, the climate, the team dynamics – all seemed to conspire to make things difficult. All seemed to be bringing to the surface lots of things in my attitudes and in my character that I would have quite liked to stay buried. At times, it was only my stubbornness that stopped me packing my bags. Love at first sight it definitely was not.
But on this night, as we spend a couple of hours walking across town, I am genuinely enjoying it. It strikes me what an amazing gift that is.
To have this evening of seeing and enjoying so much of what is good about this country. The warmth that is so often hidden behind a harsh façade. The tremendous hospitality (my friend lets me stay over in her very small dorm room, as walking home by myself would not be a good idea). Their love for their country, even though it is not an easy place to live, at this time of great change and uncertainty.
It might not have been love at first sight but I know a part of my heart will forever be in this place.
first last sight
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,800 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 30 trips to carry that many people.
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