|I once spent a Saturday
night in Cologne. In the evening I went for
a meal and had a knuckle of pork with dumplings.
If that was the size of its knuckle I would
not have wanted to argue with the pig. Afterwards
I got talking to some people in the bar and
we carried on drinking and talking until one
thirty in the morning. All I could remember
about the hotel was that it was beyond the
railway station, over a dual carriageway and
the end of the row of buildings was painted
in black and white checks.
|I walked through the precinct,
found the railway station and there in the
distance were the black and white checks.
I climbed over the railings in the middle
of the road. The hotel door was locked and
inside I could see an old man reading a paper.
I rang the bell, he looked up and then went
back to his paper. After a few more tries
I convinced him to come to the door. My next
task was to convince him I had a room. I knew
the number, it was fifty seven but what was
it in German? Finally the few brain cells
still awake got together and came up with
the answer. I got to my room, closed the door
and woke up at nine o'clock.
a much needed shower I went downstairs for
breakfast. All the other guests had eaten
and left long ago. Just one place was left,
the rest were being made ready for lunch.
Feeling very conspicuous I drank the orange
juice and all the coffee but left the rolls
uneaten. I would regret that later. After
breakfast I checked out and went to the station
to catch a train to Brussels.
| There was a ticket inspector
at the gates leading to the platforms. I produced
my ticket and it was clipped. On the train
another ticket inspector checked and clipped
the ticket. At Liège a Belgian ticket
inspector got on, looked at the ticket and
asked why I was travelling on a single from
Brussels to Cologne in the wrong direction.
I had asked for a return but had not checked
the ticket. An on-the-spot fine.
|What I needed now was something
to eat and drink, so I went along to the buffet
car. The train had started from Brno, then
in Czechoslovakia. The buffet car belonged
to the east European 'Mitropa' organization
and I discovered that the supplies which should
have been put on the train at Prague had not
been there. There was only hard boiled eggs
and black coffee. I had an interesting chat
with the East German woman working in the
buffet car. A great trip, but I was glad to
get back to Brussels and some food.