August 8, 2013

Journey with hindrances

Do you read your morning paper, occasionally shaking your head over some tornados or flooding or other catastrophies? I do. Just a fleeing tought about the poor people involved, but that's it.

I suppose it's normal if some journeys don't go as smoothly as expected, but still you somehow hope it will never happen to you. Well it did happen to me, not once but twice in less than 24 hours. This is not going to be a very spectacular story I'm afraid, but I'd like to share it with you. Somehow it took a bit of my joy of travelling away.

Two weeks ago I booked a flight to Helsinki on a normal Thursday night. I'd planned to stay at work until 2 o'clock, with plenty of time to grab my bag and get to the airport. But somehow I was very nervous the whole morning, so I got home at twelve and did some odd jobs around the house. Still my nervousness would not go away, so I decided to get to the airport three hours early. A good thing I did!

The first part did go smoothly. I got to the trainstation on the subway and waited for my train to take me directly to the airport in Düsseldorf. But at the trainstation the unexpected happened - an IC train got in on time and we were informed it was 25 minutes late? Then the next train got in on time and the same happened, only this time it was 40 minutes late. Then we were told it would not go further. Very suspicious. Now my train was due, but they said there was some trouble along the track to Cologne, so we should get on a tram instead; my train wasn't going anywhere.

Now, the tram to Cologne takes about one hour and I was afraid I'd miss a lot of time and that the same fate would happen to the trams as to the trains. So I decided to cross the Rhine and get to Cologne on the other side of the river. Usually easy piecy. But after a while we were told on the subway, that the subway could not proceed because of flooding. Flooding? I didn't see any rain!

Ok, so for the third timeI got on the subway, this time in the other direction, going home again. I was thinking of taking the car to the airport. Clearly there were difficulties getting to Cologne on both sides of the river.
While I was talking to DD2 on my phone as I sensed someone was looking through my bag behind my back. I kindly asked (ok, more like yelling like a maniac at the top of my lungs) the three ladies leave my things alone. They got away and stood laughing outside the subway. I picked my valuables from the floor, rather upset I must confess.

At home again I had a another idea and asked a friendly neighbour if she could drive me to Cologne as it is not that far from where I live. I reckoned the trains would be all right east of Cologne.
We got into the car and she told me the motorways were blocked because of falling trees and flooding. Still she drove me where I needed to go and I set out running with my 20 kg bag behind me.

On the train station the next train to Düsseldorf airport got away without me. They closed the doors in front of my nose. Now I had to look for the next one and there was one going in just a couple of minutes time. As it came there was an anouncement, but I didn't hear it properly so I asked some other passengers if it really was the right train to the airport. They assured me it was.

No, it wasn't. It was the train to Düren, not to Düsseldorf. Wrong direction. At the next station, the main train station in Cologne I had only three minutes to get the next fast train to Düsseldorf from track two. I ran like a olympiac with my 20 kg bag up the stairs to track two, only to read the train was leaving from track four today. So off I went with my bag, down the stairs and up the next ones. This time I was informed the train was 40 minutes late. Still no big problem, because another one was leaving shortly from track five.
Ok, we were informed after a while the train on track five wasn't leaving anywhere.

By now I was getting rather desperate and saw a fast train leaving for Hamburg and I jumped on it, hoping it would pass Düsseldorf on its way.  I had nothing to loose, it was this train, or I'd have to go home again. Lucky for me it did go to Düsseldorf. But my ticket wasn't valid on this train, so I had to buy a new one. Grrrr....

In Düsseldorf I had to change trains for one going to the airport. Once again I was running with my bag behind me stairs up and down, looking for the right track. I finally found a train leaving for the airport in 5 minutes and waited for it, hoping all my troubles would be over now. Then my train just disappeared from the information board and another train got in instead. Once again I asked the other passenger if this was the right train to the airport and was assured it was. I didn't believe it, so I checked the front of the train just in case and there stood Wuppertal, not Düsseldorf airport!

There I stood with train no. x once again just disappearing into thin air right in front of my eyes. I looked around me and saw a train leaving for the airport from another track and I got busy running again, hoping for the best. The good news is; it was the right train and it did go to Düsseldorf airport, but it wasn't to be hurried. It was slow, very slow. By this time I was chewing my fingernails, but everything was finally ok. I was able to drop my bag at the right place with a couple of minutes to spare and I passed the security in time to get on my plane. But it was a very near shave.

We had a stop over in Berlin and I met DD2 there. She tried to calm me down, by now I was crying and she gave me lots to eat, but I had to run for the next security in just 15 minutes, so it we had a very short time together. The security took forever and once again I got to my plane just in time. It was already boarding as I got there.

In Helsinki my friend Asa and her husband Mara came to get me from the airport and I was really relieved to see their friendly faces! Nightmare over, or so I thought.

But perhaps you noticed I told you something bad happened twice in 24 hours, so my story is still not completely told. After sleeping like a stone I went to another friends place, by train. No biggie. Just the same train I've been taking occasionally all my life. This time it started raining shortly before my stop and the train didn't go any further. After a while the ticket collectors opened the doors and went out in the pouring rain and after a couple of minutes got back in again, dripping with water. The train slowly got moving and we were told it had rammed a tree, but it looked like we'd be able to get to the next train station. We did. The ticket collectors had pulled the tree out of the way in front of the train.

By now the rain was pouring down and I grabbed my bag and ran for the next roof like everyone else. I managed to get under the roof and didn't get hit by the small stone sized hail.

My friend met me with a big smile and no shoes on his feet. He asked me to get my shoes off as well, but I didn't really see that much water in the underpass and didn't understand why I should.

Water pouring down the bridge like a waterfall

The reason soon got very clear; there was water everywhere. Deep, ice cold water. We couldn't get to the car, it stood just 5 meters away, but rain was pouring down like waterfall. 90 ml in 15 minutes. The cars got stuck and the stores hadn't any electricity. Sometimes the people couldn't get out of their cars, the water was too deep. Other people helped them from the outside and pushed the cars away from the deep places.

We found a shop with electricity and were able to find something to eat in the evening, so everything ended well after all. But that is a story for another day :-)

Here only buses were able to pass


  1. Oh dear May, that sounds like a real nightmare, hope your visit was good in all other respects.

  2. Oh, dreadful journey, you poor old thing. And the rain!

    Never mind, home safe now..

  3. Oh May, it is you? Are you causing these problems, mind you everything seemed to be ok when you were here!!!!!

  4. you have so many adventures! you really should write a travel blog too

  5. Ich glaube, ich werde niemals mit dir Reisen. Ich muss aber gestehen, ich konnte mir das schmunzeln nicht verkneifen!