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last tuesday i went to a book club meeting (very proud of myself, even spoke up in the group, despite the old panic attack reflex) and was debating between spending the day in köln before our evening class, or returning home and then going to class with james later. i decided to come back home as i had nothing to do, really, and it was threatening to rain and i was wearing my hippie-pants and flip-flops and didn’t have my very cute umbrella with me. so, i walked back to hbf and caught the train.

i was reading a book (one of those damn amelia peabody egyptian mysteries i’m embarrassed to say i read yet can’t ever put down) and suddenly looked up to find that i had been sitting in mülheim for some time now. of course, there are times when the train sits at a station or at some random point on the tracks for a few minutes longer than normal, but i realized that it had been even longer. there was a girl sitting behind me with her headphones in, who i believe realized the same thing at the same time. she leaned towards me and said, “entschuldigung…”, which is of course the only thing i understood. i made my apologetic face and said, “sorry, ich spreche kein deutsch”. she nodded and i went back to my book.

after a bit, i looked up, astonished that we still hadn’t moved and it dawned on me that someone had been speaking over the loudspeaker repeatedly for the past few minutes and i looked around to see that there was no one on the train anymore. sheepishly, i put my book away and got off. a man was walking quickly up and down the platform, checking each carriage to make sure there was no one inside. i asked him if he spoke english, to which he replied, of course, “a little”. he informed me (in very good english) that the train was turning around and going back to köln. so, i got off and sat down and waited.

after a bit, i checked the train times on my phone, only to discover that all the trains going my direction had been canceled. it was at this point that i remembered that i was starving. i had eaten a “muffin light” at starbucks at 9 o’clock that morning and it was coming up on 2 o’clock and i was getting concerned. i contemplated crossing the tracks, running down the hill and jumping the fence to get to the kaufland opposite the station, but i was sure that the instant i did that, a train would come. i checked the train times going back towards köln, only to discover that they were all canceled as well. i messaged james. his answer: take the bus.

the bus? i thought, i don’t even know where a bus would be around here, let alone which bus goes home or to the city center. sigh. completely unhelpful. of course, this whole time they are making announcements over the loudspeaker, telling me important information that i needed to know, but didn’t understand. and i’m getting hungrier and hungrier. and then i remembered that if i walked to the end of the platform and down the stairs and around, i’d come upon the u (metro). ha. new to this city indeed. i did just that, arriving very shortly in appelhofplatz and sitting down to lunch at a lovely thai café and resuming my book. i also discovered a gorgeous kitchen/household shop that had many hand-made, bespoke items. of course, i have no clue what it was called, but i think just maybe, i might even be able to find it again.

it started really raining on my walk to class, and i felt a little silly in flip-flops, but hey. what can you do. james said on his way to class, he saw a bunch of police at the mülheim station. still no clue what went on that afternoon.