Posted on Dec 6, 2012 in Berlin | 0 comments

On the ICE Berlin-Cologne and back

I had plenty of time to sketch during my 4 hour ride on the ICE Berlin-Cologne.

Sketch on the ICE Berlin-Cologne

Sketched on the iPad with the Paper app, trying to capture not so much what I saw out of the window at 220 km/h, but an impression of a drifting landscape. The speed of the world moving outside is also a great metaphor for time passing, which it does for everyone, faster and faster, as you grow older.

I had promised my old best friend from grade 5 who lives outside the Cologne area, a separate 3-day visit before my stay with relatives at Christmas, which will make it a bit more difficult to see her. I left Berlin on Sunday, December 2 and returned on Wednesday, December 5. I had booked my 4-hour ICE Berlin-Cologne return trip when I was still back home in Vancouver. I also reserved my seat for peace of mind.

Train travel in Europe is always romantic to me, possibly because I get to travel that way so infrequently. I am sure the regular commuters look at it from a more practical angle. But even in B.C., I love riding the ferry to Vancouver Island, every time. Aren’t all of us artists hopeless romantics? If we did not believe in the intangible, we would never make art. Or, as I like to say, “Function is overrated.”

So I was thrilled to be on the ICE Berlin-Cologne for four hours, even though I had to get up at 5 a.m. and catch a U-Bahn to the Berlin Hauptbahnhof (main train station) at 6 a.m.

Painting of ICE Cologne-Berlin trip.

Painted on iPad with ProCreate app. This was done on the return trip Cologne-Berlin, in the on-board restaurant where I had a sausage + bun meal and a coffee. I have great memories of a wonderful breakfast in the on-board restaurant of a train through the Austrian Alps with Jeff: fresh buns with butter and jam, a great cup of coffee, your favourite person across from you, while that amazing world out there zips by.

At that early hour on a Sunday morning, I have never seen so many bedraggled, unsteady-on-their-feet 20-year-olds on the subway platforms. I just had to smile when I saw all those kids so worn out from a night of partying in Berlin, swaying slightly to and fro as they tried to hit the right buttons on their smartphones to text woozy post-mortems of the night to their friends.

I questioned myself whether I felt wistful that I am past the age of all-night clubbing, even though it’s something I only rarely did, and would not even be interested in doing now. But I have to admit I would like to feel that I have the option to do it. While I know that I have the energy to party all night, I don’t think my age group would be welcomed enthusiastically. As my cousin told me, a friend of his who tried to go clubbing overheard “Are they coming here to die now?”

I was not in much better shape than those 20-year-olds though, for an entirely different reason; I had been up working again until almost 2 a.m. to tie up some loose ends my clients asked for when they got to work back home in Vancouver, and I had a hard time falling asleep, so I barely racked up two hours of sleep myself. Oh yeah, I also like to say “Sleep is overrated.”

I had a meaningful, but also somewhat sad time with my friends and relatives. There are some age-related issues in the older generation in my family. I had to visit my favourite aunt not at home, but in the hospital. The images I drew and painted of the world I saw from the train, moving by at ever greater speed, took on a new meaning.

ICE Berlin-Cologne arriving at the Berlin Hauptbahnhof

My ICE Berlin-Cologne arriving at the Berlin Hauptbahnhof at 6:49 a.m. on Sunday morning, December 2, 2012. These trains are amazing machines with airplane-like conductor cockpits and top speeds over 300 km/h. I get a thrill when I see one entering the station, especially when I am about to get on it with my chocolate croissant and my morning coffee to go visit a good friend.

Photographed from the regional train Wuppertal-Remscheid

Photographed from the regional train I had to take during the last half hour of my trip to get from Wuppertal to Remscheid. Typical, blurry, on-the-train photo. As I was approaching Remscheid, the snow cover got heavier.

From the regional train Wuppertal-Remscheid

From the regional train Wuppertal-Remscheid. It had snowed a healthy amount the night before, but only in this hilly region where my friend lives with its slightly higher elevation.

My friend B. (right) and I (left)

My best friend from grade 5 in Germany, B. (right) and I (left). We have a special friendship that has lasted for many years. It helps that B. is probably the nicest person on the planet. Blurry photo, but blame it on the young photographer.

Landscape near Wermelskirchen

The landscape near Wermelskirchen, where my friend lives with her husband and three kids. It is called “Bergisches Land” which means “mountainous countryside”. All that snow from the previous photo had melted within a day after I got there.

On the ICE back to Berlin

On the ICE back to Berlin. Or I may have still been on that brief regional train ride at that point.

Germany from the train

Germany from the train.