Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Train Station

When I first moved to Frankfurt, I was very intimidated by, well, just about everything in the city.  Buildings, cars, people, trains, stores, pigeons, restaurants - all the time! - ....there were just so many things!  I never had a simple, clear place to be alone!

The main train station (Hauptbahnhof) was the most overwhelming place for me.  At this time, Igor worked near the Hauptbahnhof, so often we would arrange to meet there.
Frankfurt's main train station has 3 levels: the upper level has trains that travel longer distances (in the region and also to other countries); the middle level has the "schnellbahn" - fast trains for the Rhein-Main area; the lower level is where Frankfurt's subway trains run; outside are 3 tram stations.  On the upper and lower levels are food courts and shops.  With over 600 trains and 350,000 passengers per day, it's big, really big.
In 2004, trying to meet Igor at Hauptbahnhof typically ended up with a cell phone call ("where are you???!!!) and me being reminded how out of place in a city I felt.  Then, a few months after I moved to Frankfurt, Igor and I met at Hauptbahnhof to go out to lunch.  A new external collegue of Igor's came along.  This man lived in London and was in Frankfurt just for a work project.  As we walked through the Bahnhof, this collegue was in awe of the size of the train station.  Wait, someone from London (the largest city in Europe - almost 8 million people) finds this train station big?

Ok, maybe I am allowed to be overwhelmed by some of the aspects of city living, even if Frankfurt is a small (pop. 650,000) city.

Learning how to navigate Hauptbahnhof was one of the small steps towards me feeling more secure and at home in Frankfurt.  Being aware of such victories in city living helped me during the times where I (still!) felt out of place or didn't understand the language or took the train in the wrong direction.

When have you experienced small victories making a big difference in your life?

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