Saturday, June 29, 2013

Saturday 29 June - Dresden to Koln

DB threw a new curve at us today. There is a board showing the train by car number and the location on the platform. Passengers can then wait at the right place to board. Quite frequently the train comes in back to front and there is a frantic dash by everyone to get to the other end of the train. Today we were waiting at the front of the train which turned out to be reversed but the front portion only. So instead of being in the front of the train we were not at the back but in the middle. Good job we had made reservations.
In France the SNCF is using electronic departure information so this does not pose a problem.
The recent heavy rains have caused extensive crop damage, particularly to the winter wheat and crops sown early in the spring. Some fields are pretty much a write off.
One feature of the former East Germany is the ugly massive square buildings, especially apartments, that look like barracks. There has been an attempt to improve these monstrosities with a coat of paint but they are still a blot on the landscape. I think the architects who worked on these ugly buildings have now found the opportunity to exercise such skills as they have in Ottawa.
An attractive feature we found was the way the gables of many houses were rounded out from the roofs giving the impression that the houses had eyes.
There are many areas of allotments where city dwellers can grow fruit and vegetables. Many of these have small sheds for tools etc.  but some have curtains at the windows and chimneys. I wonder if they are permanent houses?
The actual journey from Dresden to Köln went off quite well. There was a delay getting into Leipzig and we left there 10 minutes late. However, we ran directly through the single line working, where there is about 10 miles of track work and arrived at Frankfurt Hbf. four minutes early. We changed trains at Frankfurt Flughavn and arrived at Köln a couple of minutes late. The Frankfurt-Köln section was the only part where we ran at high speed and unfortunately the driver blanked the screen so I couldn't see out.
Köln was popping when we arrived (Saturday afternoon). The plaza around the cathedral was full of young people. There may have been a demonstration but it was mostly groups of about a dozen, many wearing the same uniforms or with distinguishing sashes or ties. There was a lot of drinking and the bars and cafes were overflowing on to the sidewalks.
We ate this evening at a local place that is close but tucked away so the tourists don't frequent it much. The red-headed serving wench was not there.  People were drinking beer in small .2l glasses. Walking around later we saw some tables had long wooden carriers that would take about 12 of these small glasses.
The bells of the cathedral are quite intrusive. They make a low mournful moaning rather than a happy peal. At least they didn't ring them at night.

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