Friday, 29 August 2008

20 Years On - Part 8 of Account of Travelling by Train Around West Germany and Austria

When in my first year at university I had met a fourth year German language student (a British woman studying German as a subject; language degrees are four years rather than three as the students spend their third year in abroad) called Melissa and we had an ambivalent relationship. She used me at a party as a kind of shield against a very smarmy man called Tony and as a result I had my first real passionate kiss. However, as discussed before, I had no confidence in my abilities with women and did not know how to handle the situation. Melissa and her group of friends lived on the corridor in halls next to the one I lived on so they would often socialise with my friends as a group. I had not gone to university until I was almost 20, whereas most of my friends in my year were closer to 18, so in age I was not much younger than Melissa. She was a confusing character anyway, very flirtatious but then when you talked with her you realised she was very naive too and did not really realise what men expected from her given her flirtatious manner. Anyway, she had spent her year abroad in Freiburg-am-Breisgau in the South-West of West Germany and had mentioned she might be there in the Summer of 1988 and so I wandered around the town hoping that I would run into her and have some romantic encounter. It was wasted pining as when I met her at a party at her house in Herfordshire on the Saturday after I returned to the UK, it turned out she had never got to West Germany that year and instead had been in California. Anyway, she must be in her mid-40s now but I have not seen her for just under twenty years.

On the way to Freiburg-am-Breisgau in the Schwarzwald (Black Forest) I also remember meeting a strange young German man on the train who was obsessed with cows. He had a book of photographs of different breeds and travelled the country to see them. He spoke about slaughterhouses as one might concentration camps and he constantly extolled how beautiful cows were. The photograph with the bicycle by the tree was my attempt to replicate a similar arty poster I had of Oxford, but the light levels were really too low with all the rain to allow it to be successful.

Fabrikstraße means 'factory street'. The term 'yuppie' was very much in fad at the time and stemmed from the phrase 'young upwardly-mobile professionals' who seemed to be at the forefront of Thatcherite society. In Britain, München is better known as Munich, Wien as Vienna and Nürnberg as Nuremberg. In the end I did not get to Augsburg until the following Summer. At that time I returned to Freiburg-am-Breisgau too and found out that the rain on this visit had spared me the key problem of the youth hostel there, which is that it sits right next to a broad, shallow, fast moving stream and throughout the night (if the windows are open) you are kept awake by its noisy bubbling.

Monday 29th August 1988
Today I work early and caught the bus to the station. Then I caught the train to Freiburg. I looked around the cathedral and the old town, then wandered around a park in the foothills of the Schwarzwald. I walked through the rain to the youth hostel, through real yuppie areas of new houses and fancy schools, ironically called Fabrikstraße. At the youth hostel they did have [clothes] washing facilities but the dryer was out of order. I did the washing which was smelling terribly and also read "Newsweek" and "Time" lent to me by an American. I ate in the youth hostel for DM6,- and with no lunch saved me some cash. Tomorrow I think I will got to München probably via Karlsruhe. If there is no room I will go to Augsburg, and onto Wien and then back to Nürnberg.

Weather: Heavy rain, sunny and warm later.
Market Hall in Freiburg-am-Breisgau, August 1988

Decorated Doors in Freiburg-am-Breisgau, August 1988

Cobbled Street in Freiburg-am-Breisgau, August 1988

Note channels along road side to allow stream to flow through the city

Bicycle Leaning on Tree in Freiburg-am-Breisgau, August 1988

View across Freiburg-am-Breisgau from the Schwarzwald, August 1988

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