The carpet in my Ibis Altstadt hotel was beautiful—all poppies. Like it was designed by some absolute opium addict. A real German Thomas de Quincey. I was thrilled to discover they had a nice music channel as well! So unusual these days. Rather good one as well, Deluxe. Lot of songs I’ve never heard before, lots of German music. Excellent. I will certainly always stay at this hotel if I come to Nuremberg again. Next time I travel to Vienna I expect I will give Frankfurt another try. For the first time ever today I will be arriving at the new Wien Hauptbahnhof rather than my beloved Westbahnhof. It means getting a tram to my hotel, if I can work out which one I need to get.
Finally I arrive in Vienna, a febrile Westbahnhof, and already I wish I could stay longer than 3 days. I read about Austrian taxi drivers making a fortune ferrying refugees from the Hungarian border into Vienna, and sure enough walking to the hotel I saw a big people carrier disgorging what looked like a large Syrian family. Their suitcase had a massive hole in it (my bag has holes too). Amazingly, there is a music channel on my TV! GoTV which was a music channel but then became something else has reverted to music!
This Westbahnhof is a massively important station—every train from Western Europe, from England, from France, from Belgium, from Germany, arrives at Westbahnhof. And they arrive in this SHED. When you see pictures of how it used to look before April 1945, it breaks your heart. Yes, the old station was perhaps unnecessarily ornate, over the top, impractical—but it was better than this merely functional shed. And yet I love Westbahnhof. I love this bloody shed.
How unbelievably bland the new (post 1945) Westbahnhof station is; it is basically just a roof. A flat roof. And beneath that are the platforms and the trains. What a comedown from the former glorious massive structure that existed before; where Hitler used to hang around to carry passengers’ bags for a few pfennigs. And it was only ruined in the very very very last months of the second world war. And I say this not as a hater of Westbahnhof, but as an absolute lover. Westbahnhof means so much to me. When I die I want part of my body to be buried at Wien Westbahnhof, part in Berlin Zoo station, and part in Munich Hauptbahnhof. I want nothing of me to remain in London or England (except my life insurance for my wife). My heart and my mind exist so totally in Mitteleuropa that I want to remain here after my death.