Across Continents

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Coming in from the cold

I’d a Red Cross parcel to pick up in Linz. I had the coordinates of the drop zone, and some good intelligence. Well, it was the post office, my Mum had sent me the address, and I’d a map. I just thought the first version sounded better. Winter was creeping in and the city had a hint of Cold War about it.

I’d done the usual stuff to help blend in. Bought a newspaper. Even filled in bits of the crossword. Did much better than when I actually understood the clues. Just hoped no one looked too closely. I’d thought my choice of place to stay had been good. A youth hostel. Full of students coming and going, wandering across borders with little or no scrutiny. My British passport I’d need to present to collect the parcel would be a bit of a giveaway, but that couldn’t be helped.

The post office was on the other side of town. At least that’s what I thought. I decided to walk. I needed the practice. Crossing the road that is. Easiest way to spot the English abroad – wait for them to cross – they always look the wrong way. It’s a rather curious thing – mastered riding on the wrong side in a matter of hours, but, as a pedestrian, still struggle to look the right way.

In the end I got a lot of practice. I’d found Posthof on the map – that’d be it. Sounded right. Bit out of town I thought, but being a main post office it’d be a sizeable affair, so that seemed to make sense. In actual fact the Posthof turned out to be some sort of arts venue. It looked quite nice. But it was closed. And in the wrong part of town, down by the docks.

I checked the address again. The Hautpostamt – main post office – was on Domgasse. Gasse sounded like a familiar ending for street names – quick check of the phrase book and it appeared Domgasse meant cathedral alley or lane. I’d seen the cathedral the previous day, back in the city centre. Simple. Actually no. Linz, I was to discover, has two cathedrals, but only one was on my map. The wrong one.

Eventually finding the Hautpostamt, my well rehearsed ’Ein paket Poste Restante fuer Ken Roberts, bitte’ drew blank looks. Not sure if it was my German or the question they didn’t understand. Did I want to send a package? Did I live in Austria? Did I have the dispatch note from England? The phrase book didn’t really equip me for explaining how Poste Restante works, but we got there in the end. And I got my parcel. I smiled a lot.

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3 responses to “Coming in from the cold”

  1. capt mainwaring says:

    Have been reading the blogs with some disbelief, i really thought the war had finished some years ago! never mind lets poke fun at our poor european ‘cousins’, thank god for the channel so we can laugh from our lofty english [superior} position. Looking forward to more observations on world culture.

  2. dentice says:

    Ken,
    can you give us some details of your cycle ride each day,we want to know what it is like cycling against head winds , how hard it is to go up hill, what you saw between A and B . Am I right in thinking that you feel Germany has more to offer than france ?,if so thats some obsevation for a few days on a bike.

  3. susiepoozey says:

    my goodness… go ken go

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