Archive for the ‘Terminals’ Category

Tandem Tour 2018 – Munich to Vienna – Part 1, Mühldorf to Marktl

Hunderwasser’s power station, Vienna

Regular readers will know that Vienna is one of my favourite cities in Europe. It is home to some great art, architecture and cafes (never underestimate the importance of the cafes). We have been twice so far this year, so the decision to cycle from Munich to Vienna for our summer tour this year was easy. There is that famous river, the Danube, to follow using largely dedicated cycle tracks. There’s sufficient – conveniently-located – campsites.

We’ve been off the tandem for a couple of years arising from various self-inflicted injuries on increasingly ageing bodies. Last year my back protested – though we salvaged the summer with a bit of trekking (not the most obvious response to a back injury, I know). The previous year we did our Tilman Riemenschneider odyssey.

So, having avoided injury, we checked our gear. I decided to upgrade my sleeping bag in line with my partner’s. I now have a Mountain Equipment Helium 250 – suitable for summer use. It is very light (254g) and packs very small. We also replaced our Salomon Goretex shoes – we were expecting some rain and wet feet are always unwelcome. I went for another pair of Salomon X-Ultra, whilst my partner tried a CMP trail shoe.  Other than that, all seemed in order.

We took the train from Munich to Mühldorf which is approximately 100km from Passau on the river Inn. That would give us a total ride distance of about 450km (for a couple unsure about fitness and stamina this year, that seemed far enough). The train on this route has space for a tandem, and travelling off-peak in the middle of the week, we managed to have the cycle carriage largely to ourselves. There are suitably-sized elevators at Mühldorf to get from the platform to the main street without unloading the tandem. So, in the first day arriving late afternoon, we made it to a working-farm campsite close to Marktl, the birthplace of former Pope, Josef Ratzinger. There is a museum in his “Geburtshaus”. Perhaps more importantly, there is one restaurant in the town, an Italian. The baked vegetables were interesting. We managed breakfast at the cafe in the marketplace, where the nearby pharmacy bears a mural eulogising back-breaking work in the fields (left).

The annual tour serves a number of purposes. It tests – and develops – our fitness. As people who work in a sedentary environment, keeping fit is not so easy. Being away from that environment with a machine that only works if one puts energy into to it, reminds us of our limitations – or our capabilities. It also helps to think about resources more generally. When I first started cycle touring back in the 1980s, there were no electronic gadgets that needed charging. I had a manual “mileometer” and a (camping gaz) cooking stove. This year I took my mobile phone, but did not turn it on (not least to avoid emails and other social media for 10 days).

Cycling along the River Inn – tracks are often rough but usable

We focused on keeping the Garmin Edge 800 navi charged using a now-ageing “Power Monkey” (charged where possible using sunshine, and if not a power socket at a campsite). Any spare charge went into my partner’s mobile which we used to find a posting box for our postcards, public toilets and to navigate to Vienna’s main station, Hauptbahnhof. We fuelled ourselves with a good breakfast (from local Bäckereien or Konditoreien); Apfelstrudel and some bizarre but good offerings from Gasthäusern or Restaurants. All vegetarian food seems to be open to interpretation.

 

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What to do with an old tram shed in Berlin

The new academic year starts in a few days’ time. The time immediately before is conference season for us journeyman academics. I’ve been to two.

DSCF0775One way of judging (or being judged, if one is an organiser) is the mid-conference dinner. Last week, at a conference in London, this was held on a cruiser on the Thames. It cost extra. A nice spectacle, particularly those unfamiliar to London. A great opportunity for photographs (left), especially in balmy weather.

The food was a bit…

I’m now in Berlin, one of my favourite European cities. This is an academic corporate-sponsored conference. The venue forDSCF0788 the dinner was inspired. The entrance to the Classic Remise on Wiebestrasse in the North West of the city is modest. Once inside, it seems like a museum, but in actual fact it is one huge second-hand car sales showroom. Everything is for sale, at a price. The VW camper (right) is so valuable, that one has to request the price. It has been beautifully restored.

Clearly, these being vintage cars, supply is limited. But it does seem that, within reason, one could buy – and presumably sell – anything here. Tucked away on a platform, I saw a Ford Capri MkI. Naturally, there are many BMWs, Porsches and Mercedes of various vintages. But American cars also feature. There were three Ford Mustangs as well as a lumping 1930s Lincoln. Magnificent and obscene in equal measure. The resource that went into building it, to meet with GM’s ‘cars as disposable fashion accessories’ industrial design and business approach, must have been huge.

DSCF0792Now I am a white van man (there were a few vintage Citroen vans in various stages of refurbishment), hence prioritising an image of a VW camper over a Porsche. More interesting, however, was the building. I would not have guessed its origin without a trip to the toilet. And, there, on the wall, were some pictures of the very same building with trams peeking out like horses in a stable (left). When first built in 1901, it was Europe’s largest tram shed ‘Wiebehallen’. It is the work of the Berlin architect, Joseph Fischer Dick, who seemingly specialised in these structures. The current owners have been faithfulDSCF0785 to the building. Whilst the tracks are no longer there, the entrance arches are all numbered. The roof glass and steel frame remain. As do the authentic lights (albeit with modern bulbs).

The food was also good.

Left luggage facilities – Rotterdam Centraal

20130815_191946Rotterdam Centraal Station is huge and new. It was very much a building site when we arrived (15 August 2013). The left luggage lockers (left) are located near to platform 17, come in two sizes (5-8 Euros for 24 hours) and require a credit or debit card – no cash. The key is a flimsy card a shade bigger than a credit card. The lockers open when it is inserted. Once open it cannot be relocked without payment.

Charging gadgets at Brussels Midi

Brussels_MidiYou know the scenario, battery low and nowhere to recharge. The three people pictured left are charging phones and laptops with their own kinetic energy at the Thalys terminal at Brussels Midi station. Essentially, pedal and you generate electricity that can be transferred to your device. Neat?

One wonders. First, this is discriminatory. I was surrounded by a lot of elderly people who, to be fair, would struggle to get on this contraption, let alone pedal. Likewise if one is in a wheelchair.

Second, how much energy went into making it relative to what it generates? I cannot help but think that it really would not cost that much to put in a bank of sockets that are attached to solar panels located on the roof for travellers who pay enough to ride the trains.

Gare du Nord, Paris

The Eurostar terminal in Gare du Nord does not befit the train service provided. Once one gets through the security and immigration (French and British), the cramped space undermines the simplicity of train travel vis-a-vis air travel. Too many shops, not enough tranquil space to sit and wait. And if the service is disrupted, as it was last weekend, the crampness really begins to generate disquiet. The terminal in London is dreamlike by comparison. Nicely designed, comfortable and easy to negotiate.