This morning i headed to Halle (Saale), one of those mysterious end stations you always jump on the train towards but never actually reach. I had no idea what to expect, but as we rolled out of the picturesque hills of Thüringen and into the flat-ass farmland of Sachsen-Anhalt i already liked it. I mean, just south of Halle there are two train stops in the same goddamn factory. Epic Industriegebiet. Walking out of the train station didn't take me straight to the Altstadt like most German towns, but under a swooping overpass and into a wall of highrises. Apparently over the other side of town there is a complete planned city of DDR highrises; i wish i had the energy to visit. The old town is shabby and covered in graffiti - the best kind of old town. And the people just felt a lot more relaxed than down south.
I sat down at a kneipe for a few hours and had a proper German meal of white asparagus and schnitzel. I kinda want to stay, or maybe just head over to Leipzig. But there's nothing going on in Leipzig tonight, and honestly it'll be good to get back to Berlin today so i can still do some grocery shopping and laundry.
So yeah... Thüringen is nice with the hills and the forests and whatnot... But this feels like a real town. Opposite me is a guy in blue overalls and his friend with a leather jacket and ponytail. My bar tender is wearing polka dot pants and the most fabulous sparkly boots. It feels like Friedrichshain, or my Friedrichshain, at least. Although i prefer clubbing in hippie/gay/bohemian Germany, i like to drink in blue collar Germany. They're solid types.
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And we're back. I really enjoyed the Regionalbahn up to Lutherstadt Wittenburg. Just the typical flat north/central European countryside with some poppies and solar farms and wind farms and abandoned factories and graffiti all over barns in the middle of nowhere. I dozed off for a bit, then switched to the much more boring (and busy) ICE back to the city. As i traveled around the Ringbahn all squished in with a million hipsters and kids, i looked out the windows and realized i've never really gone out to take photos of Berlin. The graffiti is a million times better, there are a million more abandoned buildings, it's a million times more easy-going, and a million times more multi-cultural... but, you know, it's home, so it's not really as interesting :-)
I do love to take those country trains, though. It costs a fucking fortune - i spent over 200€ in 4 days (twice what i did on hotels) - but there is something really relaxing about sitting on a near-empty Regionalbahn, just staring out the window and thinking. Every time i wish i could just jump out and bike along the narrow pathways to God-knows-where that criss-cross the countryside. Maybe i should just take a week off and do it.