I would love to be able to tell you all manner of good things about my early weekend traveling, but I am not sure that this will work out since, sadly, things didn’t quite go the way that I had hoped. Such is life when you make spontaneous plans, you take a chance on everything going exactly as you wish, or even better, and sometimes that chance goes completely in the wrong direction. It all begins with me getting up with the birds first thing in the morning – which is hardly unusual – and then, since that was probably the best part, it goes downhill from there. Well, not quite, there were some good things, but they are overshadowed by things which didn’t work out.
As many will remember, I am the proud owner of a new cellphone after my old (in technology terms!) one decided to take a bath. The new one, with all the apps a young woman could ever need plus some, doesn’t include a navigation application any more. For some reason Google have decided to remove this wonderful aid and replace it with a beta version linked directly through Google Maps. That would be fine, if the maps were all accurate! It begins right outside my front door where, to my surprise, I discover that the street isn’t linked to any other – despite the next road having been built in about 1920! – and the system demands that I take a long detour to get to the first main road out of town. My mistake was taking the shorter route, direct to the street out, which completely threw Google Maps. After nearly fifteen minutes driving time the system still hadn’t broken out of Re-Routing, so I had to stop, turn it off, and begin from the beginning again. I’m not going to tell you about the problems I had getting the cellphone up-to-date from factory status to real life, that would blow this post right out of the water!
Photo Credit: samsungtomorrow – Creative Commons
Needless to say, the updates I needed completely exhausted my free, fast bandwidth after the second from five, and that is without any new apps and without bringing all the apps up-to-date. I did consider downloading one of the other navigation programs, until I saw that the few Megabytes of data for the app didn’t include the maps themselves, that it wouldn’t give me a direct link to a server to navigate, and that I had another Gigabyte of information to download. I also had a heart-stopping moment, driving towards the freeway, when the cell appeared to switch itself off, until I discovered that it was a power-saving addition, and the app automatically turns the cell back on again five kilometers from the next change in route.
Leaving all the technical things to one side, I made it to Wuppertal in one piece. Three hours driving according to the system – light traffic, no road works – nearly four in reality – light traffic, bad weather, three sets of road works. If the weather had been better I might have enjoyed the drive more, there are some wonderful views along the way, but that was not to be. It rained, sometimes intensely, all the way down and didn’t bother stopping once I arrived. In fact, for day one, it didn’t stop raining at all.
Photo Credit: musical photo man – Creative Commons
Plenty of things I wanted to do, plenty I wanted to see. Again, it didn’t quite work out that way. Today being a holiday in Germany, much of the city was closed – apart from restaurants and bars – including some of the cities best assets. The historical Town Hall, which I am told is a wonderful piece of architecture, had a private function and remained out-of-bounds for me.
I did get to ride the railway, which was an interesting experience to say the least. As you can see from the image (above), it hangs from rails above the river Wupper, and runs from the outskirts of the city (Barmen) through to the center (Elberfeld). The most notable feature, aside from the architecture of the railway itself, is the dilapidation of the city. The railway runs past rows of former factories which seem to be ready for demolition and have clearly not been in use for decades. The river itself is overgrown and, in many places, lined with debris and trash. The streets, viewed from above and on foot later, are broken and, in some places, plain dangerous. And, because of this special holiday (Father’s day) were enhanced – not in a good way – by groups of men pulling small wagons filled with beer and schnapps, singing loudly, drinking heavily and generally giving an impression of a society breaking up into chaos and lawlessness.
I spent my first day in Wuppertal wandering around the center of town – four thousand five hundred registered buildings of historical interest! – wrapped up in my bad weather coat wondering what on earth had induced me to come here. And that is probably unfair: had the weather been better I would undoubtedly have seen and done considerably more; had it not been a holiday; had the Town Hall not been closed to visitors.
My first impression? Sadly not a good one simply because of the state of the city. It is rundown, dirty, seems to be uncared for in so many ways. And, lying in a steep-sided valley, a bad weather trap.
Love & Kisses, Viki.