21
Nov
15

train junkies/23

P1180363

What a pity that all the marvellous British train experiences of this mid-November week had to finish….with a rather lousy one.

On Sunday November 15th I had to go back to Dusseldorf and this time round the decision was taken to do it via rail to Manchester and then by plane as usual from the highly unappealing local airport. The only one in the world which has got more slot machines than toilets. An atmosphere clearly reminiscent of gaming arcade rather than a shopping gallery. Odd place indeed!

Whatever. So, Leeds to Manchester airport, about an hour’s travel. I had books galore. I was already savouring the calm ahead the usual meat-grinder airport procedures.

Then the nightmare began…Floods were following gales in Northern England. Trains started being cancelled. The experience morphed into “A train to Darjeeling”, with multiple stop-overs, Indian Subcontinent-style over-crowded carriages. But I must admit: lots of British sense of humor. Everybody hunched on its own apps, but exchanging glances and giggling with fellow unhappy travellers, making bets on which connection would be delayed first…which platform should the sprint channelled to. A true logistic nightmare, made more bearable by a certain tongue-in-cheek attitude which to me seemed distinctively Northern.

There were the two 40-something buddies in stylish tracksuits and designer trainers heading to Orlando with their big trolleys. They were the most tech-savvy and the funniest. Easy, their flight would only go in the morning. But it took them 5 trains to bridge 150km distance between their homes and Manchester. There was the slightly over-weight, friendly-looking and soft-spoken lad with a giant mouse t-shirt and a trolley embossed with a skull. There was the dreamy blond young lady leaning on the door and was not getting the message that she should be ready to zoom thru – or let the others zoom thru – as soon as the door would open in Manchester Piccadilly.

I was already checking availability in hotels at Manchester airport. Those must for sure be equipped with slot machines, needless to say. Eventually, almost on heart-attack, I made it to the gate. And waited for one hour for my delayed flight, which until then had been stubbornly promising it would definitely be boarding on time…

Even when I was met with the 200-people long taxi rank queue at DUS – fair week, yes sir – I could not feel nothing different than pure bliss. Dusseldorf. Germany. Friendly glass & steel. No rubbish. No slot machines. Open, clean airport supermarket. Creamy Mercedes approaching the kerb bubbly and shiny like friendly dolphins, clapping open their car boot with a snap, eager to stomach yet another herring. Er, Rimowa.

Home.

PS
This trip reminded me of another cross-EU adventurous one…check it out here if you are curious….


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