Lately, I’ve been moving house, saying goodbye to the lady with whom I used to live and pretty much just trying not to freak the fuck out. Today, I’ve got no appointments for the first time in eons…getting on a train and just going. No-one knows where. You know there’ll be a blogpost about it. You know that, right?
This is a blogpost I’ve been waiting to do until I had enough photos to make it make a bit of sense. Not that this blog always makes much sense. What’d be the point of that?
No point, I tell you.
Just like other major German cities, Hamburg has both an U-Bahn and S-Bahn system. Most of the time, the U-Bahn system is underground, but like Boston’s T or Chicago’s Elevated, Hamburg has what’s called a ‘Hochbahn‘. All over the city in the U-Bahn stations, there are auld photos of the 100-year old Hochbahn. I’ll include those in a future post.
Here’s my favourite train station in Hamburg:
This art deco train station is on the S-Bahn line, which as Wikipedia describes, is a, ‘…city centre and suburban metro like railway system in Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Denmark.’
This photo has nothing to do with the Hochbahn, but I liked it and I decided it was going in this blogpost. It’s my blog. If you don’t like it, get your own damned blog.
Arrived yesterday, and have already done quite a lot. As I travel through the city, I’m reminded of some of my favourite Berlin things, and even if I don’t do them on this trip, I’m going to talk about them here anyway. This is what you see first if you arrive by train. I’m a sucker for train stations, so this place always makes me smile. And the Welcome to Berlin sign doesn’t hurt.
You’ll notice as I show you more photos that I’ve got a weakness for Art Deco and Jugendstil. Architecture, furniture, Paris Metro Stations…all of it. And in Berlin, there’s all of it, aside from the Paris Metro Stations, and in addition these water pumps.
Then there are the castles. Most people would probably start with Schloß Sanssouci (it’s nearby in Potsdam), but I chose to go with Schloß Charlottenburg. I was nearby and decided to go for Baroque (bad puns don’t cost any extra hereabouts).
And a bit more about the palace that Sophie Charlotte had built you can find here.
Then I’ve included a few photos of the Gendarmenmarkt right near the centre of the city.
Roughly two thousand people showed up Saturday night to protest Munich’s new law that you can’t drink on the S-Bahn (Schnell-Bahn directly translated as fast trains, but I like to say suburban trains). The term *people* I use very loosely.
As the night wore on, ten trains had to be taken out of commission. Lights had been destroyed, windows broken or covered in unspecified nontransparent material, and seat cushions ripped into pieces. After the evening’s festivities, it was discovered that nearly fifty trains had been damaged.
At least ten people are being held responsible (based on closed-circuit camera evidence) for the worst of the damage.
Since 2009, it’s been against the law to drink on the U-Bahn (underground trains), or in the trams and busses. It was only a matter of time before the S-Bahn, which is owned by the formerly state-owned Deutsche Bahn, followed suit.
The protesters were informed about the event and given regular updates on Facebook (very little good comes from that website anymore, does it?) and what started as a relatively relaxed evening turned rowdy between ten-thirty and midnight. The new law went into effect as the clock struck twelve.
Tell me, does this surprise anyone? People protesting not being allowed to drink on public transportation by getting their drink on in that very venue? (exactly the same sort of protests happened in London and Hamburg when they instituted such new policies). What started out peacefully gets quickly and increasingly out of hand?
This is a dog bites man story. The real news would’ve been if the increasingly inebriated people had become reasonable and actually considered the other people in their general vicinity.
‘All in all, the trains were more than six thousand minutes late. That’s over a hundred hours, according to the head of the S-Bahn. The damages add up to more than €100,000. Despite all of that: there wasn’t a single injury.’ (source: Süddeutsche Zeitung Monday 12 December 2011 my translation!)
Do any of you understand the gravity of this? Trains should not be delayed. Not here. This is the beginning of the end of society. Or the end of the beginning.
That same head of the S-Bahn even indicated he had nothing against a goodbye party for drinking on the trains. Can you believe that? The person in charge of this organisation actually sounds reasonable. He insisted that he drew the line at aggressiveness and property damage.
Oh, and some train employees were spit on.
This isn’t mock outrage on my part. This is me trying to tone down what jerks I think these protesters were (and are).
Fine. You think the new law is inappropriate and repressive and whatever, but do you really spit on the people working overtime to make sure your blotto self and your friends don’t fall onto the tracks and get hit by a train?
Can you fathom how indignant these people would be if they were treated in the same manner? If they were spit on for being morons? If their right to protest were infringed upon in any way they’d be up in arms.
You know, there’s probably a better way to tie this up. A funnier approach to the whole account. A perspective that shows either the protesters or the story itself in a different light. But I’m not going to do that.
A group of people show their disgust that they could no longer, in a civilised way, drink alcohol on the trains in Munich by being thoroughly and indisputably disgusting. They really made their point, didn’t they?
I’m not opposed to drinking and more importantly, I like a bit of debauchery. Actually, I’m quite the fan of a lot of debauchery. But these folk are on my opposing team. They really are.