Away from Berlin with my backpack. To Prague. Grey mist hung and obscured visibility the entire journey. It snowed in Sächsische Schweiz along the Elbe in Elbsandsteingebirge. Prague arrived 5 hours later. I’m staying in the 5th district, the funicular up Petřín runs past my window across the park. In the evening I walked through the part of the old city.
Cleaning my camera out and found these from the day I left Vienna, catching the train from Wien-Meidling to Berlin it passed Arsenal where I’d been the day before returning my ImPulsTanz bike, and then trundled over the Danube. I decided to stop photographing after that, and just stare out the window.
Missing a day of workshops, which I shall catch up on once I’ve dealt with 400+ images from the photoshoot yesterday (shibari clown in tree!), however before arriving somewhere almost as far as a person can travel in Belgium without actually leaving or arriving in ocean, a document of getting there shall occur.
9am Gare du Midi arrival for departing 20 minutes later; Belgium this summer is performing an excellent version of Adelaide winter. Five of us plus cheese and baguettes, and suitcases and other implements of carrying filled with ropes and other necessities for a day in the trees, naïvely wagering our fortune on absence of dampness. It rains.
And oh, surprise! Town of Ath again. I was unaware we were heading in that direction. Having never expected to return there, and now greeted by my family name on a pole at a train station, I shouldn’t be surprised if I end up there again.
More rain and fields of wheat and bovine clumps, small brick towns with the very particular rear ends; the houses’ backyards not so much ending as petering out in a cavalcade of ever-decreasing sheds, lean-tos, roofs, and garden implements.
We arrive after some one and an half hours, to be collected and spend the day in a delightful village forest garden and perform the journey somewhat in reverse, arriving back here fifteen hours later.
I slept much of the way, or rather failed to stave off falling awake. It must have been not pretty for those close enough to endure watching me struggle so.
Having decided the difference between flying from Brussels to Berlin and catching a train was around the order of three hours (one and a bit hour flight means nothing when check-in is two before and airport is another one to get to), and with the extra pleasure of no baggage weight limit nor irritation of customs, I thought sitting staring at the fields being harvested, train stations, small towns I’d never visit, let alone remember a day later, would be a pretty way to spend an afternoon.
Ah, well, the air-conditioning breaking down, getting stuck in aforementioned small town for half an hour, thus missing the connection at Köln, so waiting there for over an hour, to find myself on a train going extremely slowly (which is to say not moving at all) somewhere east of Hannover while the entire contents of an unassembled railway line thudded past almost as slowly in the opposite direction … I was close to dehydration by the time Berlin hove into view, and decided unanimously that waiting for the U55 line to be finished was not as desirable as catching a taxi.
In Berlin again, after more than three weeks absence. So long that riding my bike caused suffering. Lucky Wednesday was the Wedding Markets behind the Rathaus, so I succumbed to the cries of, “Bitchin! Bitchin! Angebot!” (In truth, they are saying ‘Bitte Schön’, but it’s abbreviated in such a way as to annul resistance to buying 2 kilos of peaches for 1 euro).
Some books had arrived also, one of which I shall write on when I experience lucidity.
Along with all this, I have been subjected to getting up early. Rehearsals with Daniel Schlusser over Skype. Shall write of this also.
The train station at Liège is one of the most ‘smooth, cool lines of the future; arriving now’ cocoons of architecture I’ve seen. It says, “Please photograph me”. So I did.
An adventure yesterday, south-west of Bruxelles for around 30 minutes. A train with Gala, past a town called Silly. No, really. To a town called Ath.
d’Ath Death Ath. A choice. As curious as I am about the woman who was my grandmother and was Muslim and Turkish – from Turkey, via Turkey, left Turkey, what kind of Muslim? Questions that are deferred until I go to Istanbul… my family name d’Ath gives much entertainment, linguistic, etymological, historical.
A town called Ath. I thought of The Jam singing A Town Called Malice. I expected with my homecoming there would be a procession of some sort, perhaps some slaughter of locals, entrails and what have you, and glaciers would be most appreciated. Palm trees. At the station.
Walking down old streets, empty shops, many with posters for Ducasse d’Ath, and also… haha… oh… much amusement around the 11th Century castle… Institut Saint François Ath, the Ath Promenade de la Culture, the Ath Jardin des Artes et Lettres… A beautiful small town, reminding me a little of Vevey in places, or towns out of Adelaide, and…
Much cheese and sausage, apertifs drunk, and a quick shuffle back to civilisation. Bruxelles. Oh, a beautiful city, and yes, my choice of Berlin or Brussels I think were good first picks. I shall wander over again, especially when flights are €17, though unsure if another visit to Ath will ensue.
Somehow I have managed to avoid, during my decade in and out of Melbourne, from ever going down the stairs on Flinders St opposite the railway station and discovering the beautiful Art Deco Degraves St Mall. It was only because I’d been asked to take some photos of it that I even locked my bike up to the railing and went down those stairs at all. The delicate salmon pink tiles and contrasting imposing solid black pillars and skirting, curved corners and oil-slick glass and chrome are one of the wonders of Melbourne. And great shops too.