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Haunted by Isherwood?

On Monday my son and I returned from a short break in Berlin (Germany) to our home in Leicestershire (England). 

The first train took us from Berlin to Cologne. The journey was notable for keeping perfectly to time, arriving at exactly the right time in Cologne after a journey lasting more than four hours. We therefore had no problem with making the connection for the next leg of the trip, from Cologne to Brussels.

However, that was when things started to go awry. Shortly after starting out, the announcement was made that the train would make an additional stop at Duren, which is a town between Cologne and Aachen. A later announcement said that everyone would have to leave the train at Duren and get on  a train that would  be on the opposite platform. All the seat reservations would still apply on the other train.

As our train arrived at Duren another train was approaching at the adjoining platform from the opposite direction. The two trains stopped at almost exactly the same time. We all duly got off our train – as did the passengers who had just arrived on the other train.

We then swapped trains! When everyone was on board, the two trains set off back the way they had come, carrying a fresh set of passengers!

There was no explanation given as to why this took place, and there seemed to be no reason why two trainloads of passengers, travelling between Germany and Belgium, should have to do what they did.

Odder still, from my point of view, was the fact that I just finished reading Christopher Isherwood’s novel “Goodbye to Berlin” and had started on his other “Berlin” novel. The title? “Mr Norris Changes Trains”!

What do you think?

13 points

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  1. I love those serendipities of life! However I do hope you didn’t miss your ongoing connection. I had a terrible experience earlier this year of missing a connecting flight in Frankfurt, which cost me several hundred euros, but perhaps I’ll save the details for a separate post. No hint of serendipity on that occasion 🙂

    • The next train – the Eurostar from Brussels to London – was itself an hour late in leaving, and was delayed for a further hour and a half during the journey. That meant that we missed our final train (London to Leicester) and had to take a later one that stopped at several intervening stations. We should been home shortly after 10 pm – not 2 am!

  2. How strange. I wonder why they made everyone change trains. And quite odd that you should be reading that book too. Apart from the train journey though, I hope you and your son had a lovely weekend in Germany. It’s somewhere I’ve never had the pleasure of visiting. I would love to though. It’s such a beautiful country.

    • We had a great time in Berlin, and I would happily go back there tomorrow if I could! My son went to a 3-day games convention in Berlin, and I went along as his companion – he has a few “issues” and sometimes needs emotional support. I was free to explore Berlin for the whole three days, which were certainly not enough.

      I discovered on my return that during the three days I had walked more than 25 miles and taken more than 700 photographs! I intend to post at least some of these on Virily over the next few days, together with the stories of what they signify.

    • I had a theory about the reason why. This involved one of the train drivers not wanting to go all the way to Brussels or Cologne because his wife had heard about the new girlfriend and was waiting at home with a big stick!

      He therefore arranged with his colleague to swap trains – but of course that does not explain why all the passengers had to switch trains as well!

  3. Are you sure your son and you were not in the twilight zone for a moment? That is interesting indeed. I was in Cologne as a teen with my mom and had a wonderful cruise down the Rhine, I remember very little but photos remind me somewhat.

    • Maybe I was in the same zone when on a narrow-boat holiday some years ago, gliding along and reading a book about Elvis Presley. I had just read about his birth in the town of Tupelo, Mississippi, when another boat passed us going the other way. I looked up to say hello to the people on board when I noticed the name of the boat – Tupelo!

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