Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Das Gläserngürteltier

They've built a spectacular new Hauptbahnhof in Berlin. As a non-local, I'm not required to care if the cost and inconvenience of construction approached Big Dig proportions, or if Berliners think of its architecture the way Seattleites think of our EMP*+. I just love it.

But, I realized, I'm extremely lucky to have experienced both Berlin Zoo and Ostbahnhof stations when they were still in use. Starting this week, visitors to Berlin won't have any idea what those vestiges of West and East were like.

It was quite amazing that even in 2005, Deutsche Bahn schedules showed our train from Hamburg arriving at Berlin Zoo and our train to Prague departing from the Ostbahnhof. Even though they're only a few stations apart on the same tracks, we weren't totally confident that the train to or from one station would stop at the other one, and even if it did, the schedules were loath to tell us at what time such an event might occur. (I was travelling with a West German, though not a Berliner, and it wasn't clear to her, either.) Since we weren't making that connection on the same day, we never did find out whether a single transfer could have been done at one station or the other. We just got on and off at the DB-prescribed stations.

Definitely not an Iron Curtain, but you do get a feeling of separation from it. Kind of an Iron Sheer. Now replaced by glass. It's a great moment, really.

* I don't know whether Berliners actually feel this way, I'm just saying I don't have to care if they do.
+ I actually like Seattle's EMP.

Edit: Ostbahnhof != Alexanderplatz.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Glad I'm not a thoroughbred

Horses cannot convalesce; their internal organs shut down if they're kept off their feet for any significant length of time. Veterinary surgical techniques may produce state-of-the-art repairs, but the horse is so unlikely to survive the non-weight-bearing period of recovery that euthanasia is still the most humane option.

I, on the other hand, hit golf balls and bowled this weekend on my bionic knee. Life is good.