I love travelling everyday of the week except Sunday.
I am not following that rule today. I am back on the ‘road.’ I’ve escaped through a hidden portal in time and find myself back in the city I lived in for almost 9 years. Yet, having been away from Edinburgh for so long, I feel like I am in the uncomfortable embrace of a stranger. It’s a cloudy and misty- what you would call a dreich morning. I am missing the warmth of home. Madeira. I don’t feel like getting out of bed.
My mind wanders back into another gap in time. A similar lazy, Sunday morning almost a year back. I had been travelling through Germany for 3 weeks. I had just arrived in Dusseldorf. It had been an eventful trip, blighted by bitterly cold weather. It was the end of March. Germany was firmly still in the jaws of winter. Despite the sub-zero temperatures, I tried to make the most of my trip indoors. From the sweet buttery cinnamon flavoured goodness of Franzbrotchen in Hamburg to the deliciously fruity ‘Klaben’ of Bremen, my mornings had fallen into a waist busting routine of discovering some of Germany’s finest regional pastries.
Afternoons were spent in some of Germany’s finest museums. The Kunsthalle in Hamburg and Bremen followed by the Sprengel in Hannover: Germany is blessed with some of the finest contemporary art museums. By the time I arrived in Dusseldorf, the weather patterns had started to shift. A band of high pressure had brought clear skies. Cold, frosty nights gave way to crystal clear, cold blue sunny mornings. The snow had melted, leaving behind a mixture of dead yellow and lush green grass. Craning my neck from my bedroom window of my stylish double room of my Jugendherberge hostel in Dusseldorf, I could see the iconic Rheinknie bridge towering in the distance , while the Rhine flowed serenely beneath, sparkling in the spring sunshine. It was almost 10am. I was in danger of missing the hostel breakfast. Still, I lie dazed and lethargic. I usually can’t stay in bed longer than 9am. I spent a few minutes reading a ton of literature I had amassed the evening before from the local tourist office.
I had a choice of activities to choose from. Maybe a stroll down the Rhinuferpromenade. I can watch the Rhine cruise boats sail by . I can check out some of the city’s iconic architecture in the Mediahafen district. Later in the afternoon I could continue my binge of contemporary art in the world famous K-20 + K-21 museums. Still, I found myself blighted by some sort of malaise. I spent another good hour under the covers, checking Facebook updates. Then I spot a picture from a friend in Edinburgh enjoying a traditional full Scottish at one of my old favourite haunts, the Holyrood 9A. I felt an instant pang of jealousy. There are a few better places in the world to start your Sunday morning than the Holyrood 9A. The staff are cheerful. There is a faint dash of morning light in this pub. It’s dark and cavernous. You’ll find a cosy log fire crackling away in the corner. When I lived in Edinburgh, my sunday mornings would be spent here reading their full selection of morning papers. I had a pang of nostalgia. I wanted to be far away from Dusseldorf. I wanted to be home. But where was home? Edinburgh was my home for 9 years but now no longer home. I had been living out of a backpack for almost a year now. Home was everywhere and nowhere.
It’s 12pm by the time I dragged my sorry ass out of the hostel.Sun was now high on the sky. After a 30 minute vigorous long walk to the city that included a very windy interlude on the bridge, I could feel a tickle of sweat forming on my back. The city’s main thoroughfare had a steady trickle of locals. I walk past wide gaping empty shop entrances adorned with confetti and balloons announcing mega spring savings. The eeriness and desolation reminds me of Sunday afternoons before in another world and space. Everywhere I looked, people looked disconsolate and slow in their step.
It’s only when I reach the banks of the Rhine river, there are suddenly signs of life. Tourists, mainly stag groups had congregated at the riverside bars gulping generous amounts of the quite dark and bitter local Altbier. I sit at the steps of the embankment and join the steady growing crowd of sun worshippers. It’s quite peaceful and orderly with the exception of a gaggle of homeless people with Lidl shopping bags, listening to music on a radio with a cracked speaker. They were a vision of happiness, drowsing themselves in cheap beer.
Pleasure boats drift by, crammed with over excited tourists waving their arms madly at the sun worshippers. The gaggle of beggars are the only people to respond. They start waving enthusiastically and like a terrible afterthought, the stag party group from the riverside bars stagger to their feet and join the impromptu rave. I sip on my lukewarm bottled water and wish it could turn into beer.
I get up and start walking. There is a wave of happiness along the Rhine river. Picture postcard scenes -couples walking by arms interlocked, the young family with cute baby and obligatory cute puppy in tow. I see all these scenes with a strange mixture of fascination and disengagement.
This could be my life. This cafeteria with great wifi, so nice and cosy. I could have my Sunday morning cup of coffee here. This could be the park I go running in the mornings.
I soon find myself walking by beautiful houses with broad bay windows that invite the outsider to gaze in. I see people gathered around the TV. The biggest plasma widescreen TV you can imagine. It’s a scene that looks very inviting. Cosy leather sofa. I see a dude lying slothenly with the remote about to drop from his hands. He looks bored as hell. I imagine he could be watching something utterly tripe. I remember Sunday tv schedules from the past . Probably the sunday matinee movie. Or he could be numbed watching a very one sided football game from the Bundesliga involving Bayern Munich.
I walked back to the hostel with a nagging feeling. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be like to that dude. Watching the dullest TV programmes you can imagine. However the idea of waking up at home, in your own bed and not feeling the need not to go anywhere…. is a nice feeling. Maybe I am showing my age here. Maybe it’s good to watch utter tripe on TV and be numbed into a deep slumber on the sofa.
Maybe there is no place like home on a Sunday.
Since I am not home, I am going to make the most of now. The sun seems to be making a comeback in Scotland…peeking through those dark grey clouds. I might just drag my ass out now and have that full Scottish at Holyrood 9A….
Have a great Sunday, wherever you are in the world.
Do you love travelling everyday of the week, especially Sundays? Love to hear your thoughts on my post.
More stories from the road? Have a peek at the archives.