Friday, 3 February 2012

To and Fro, Wax Man and "Down the Nile from Cairo!"

It probably seems as if I've been zigzagging around like a lost bumblebee, with posts on Germany, Egypt, Suffolk and (soon) Spain all in a couple of months.  Of course the purpose of these is to write articles, and there hasn't actually been much time to spare for that little task.     But I have FINALLY sent in my story about Germany, so I'm tidying my German pictures away for now and preparing to write about Egypt.  

Before I do, I thought I'd share a few random images from the last German trip.  First, on the flight into Munich, I saw a weather front moving across the land.  Clear skies, bright sunshine, but the horizon shrouded in heavy rain creeping forward - you can probably see the shadows in the clouds where it is falling.   The sun was setting and it looked dramatic, and reminded me of a JMW Turner painting.

Next, some suitcases on the train between Munich and Coburg.    Not very exciting, you'll agree, but I was interested that you could lock your bags to the racks with that coin-operated locking system - something I always wish I could do on English trains. 

But there is a little story attached to this photo.  Some little tip-up seats are attached to the wall opposite the luggage racks and the toilet, and since the train was crowded we decided to stay on the tip up seats rather than struggle to find a seat in a compartment. 

The ticket inspector marched past, took our tickets, looked a little strangely at us, (I thought), and said, "Don't you want to sit in the compartment?"

"Oh, no, no, we are very happy here," we replied. 

He then gave us a VERY funny look indeed, but said nothing, handed back the tickets, tossed his head and continued on his way.   His manner seemed so strange that I took another look at the tickets. Only then did I see that the good folk at Rail Europe (who had comped the tickets) had  provided me with first class tickets and seat reservations.   

 We hastily transferred to First Class, but the ticket inspector no doubt told his family that evening of the mad English people who had first class tickets but preferred to crouch on tip-up seats by the toilets!

The third and fourth pictures shows Prinz Friedrich Josias of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.  He lives in an amazing striped dining room in the hilltop fortress at Coburg.   This was about the most eerily lifelike wax bust I have ever seen. 

I've got very close to his face in this picture which makes him look rather bug eyed, so here is a side view 

  He lived from 1737  to 1815 and was a famous army commander.  Apparently a good bloke, effective and popular, but really this gave me the creeps because he was so real looking.  To me, he looks dutiful, conscientious, represssed, and well meaning, but not the sort of person I can imagine sitting down for a cosy chat with, even if my German was perfect enough to do so.  

So that's my German trip finally out of the way, and I am continuing with the Egypt piece for the paper.   The present demonstrations are part of the ongoing Egyptian revolution,  and I doubt that they affect most of Cairo  and I hope they won't escalate - but the Egyptian Museum is almost on Tahrir Square and if I were in Egypt  now, I'd be waiting to see what happens next before visiting it.   So I suppose I will write my piece mainly about Giza and Thebes, which are well out of the mainstream.  

We've been invited to stay in the future in Cairo by some American friends who are currently building a house near Heliopolis. I'd like to stay with them and also visit Heliopolis (City of the Sun) since it is one of the places where my ancestors lived, way back in the Agatha Christie days.

  Inspired by my trip, I've dug out some old photos of them all and they include one entitled "Down the Nile from Cairo! 1922".    

Hardly the Nile, shurely - it looks like a sort of railway to me. What on earth can they be doing? I wish they were still here to ask.  It would be so interesting to talk to them. 


  1. Oh my gosh...I laughed right out loud when you discovered you had first class tickets. :)

    That bust is amazingly life like! I can certainly understand why it creeped you out.

  2. Grin. I think your toilet seats would've baffled even the most frugally minded German disciplinarian!

    I noticed the bug-eyed prince's photo before I read the explanation. My first confused thought: "Did she take a photo of the baffled ticket inspector?"

    PS: I read about the soccer riots in Egypt. Despite my previous vote of confidence in the country, I wouldn't want to go there right now, either.

  3. Hello Jenny:
    Such a good idea the locking luggage racks. It is so difficult often to find anywhere on an English train to put luggage and then when one does it seems miles away from the nearest seat in order to be able to watch over it.

    We agree about the bust, far too lifelike for our taste too. We have never been to Madame Tussauds and do not intend to do so!

    The photograph is a gem!

  4. I've never traveled by train. Guess it's because it's not a popular form of transportation in the states....

  5. A thoroughly enjoyable trip. I, for one, am happy to follow wherever you care to go for you are one of those special travel writers who makes me want to visit the places you have visited (tip-up seat or not)

  6. What an interesting post that stirred up memories including childhood reading of Agatha Christie.

    I last visited Germany in 1989 and first as a teenager of 17 and while there visiting a penfriend – I can remember his name but not where he lived. On the return journey to St. Goarshausen I realised the train was on the wrong side of the Rhine and having little knowledge of the German language became meekly concerned – “What to do! What to do!”

    The ticket inspector found me out and had no English; luckily a kindly fellow passenger took me under her wing and upon disembarking arranged with her father to drive me to my hotel, a kind deed to an innocent traveller.

    (I also had my first holiday romance here!)

    I do love the story of the first class tickets and too have no doubt that the inspector related the tale of the mad English people!

    The waxwork is incredibly lifelike – if only those at Madame Tussauds had the same pride in their work.

    With regards to Egypt – you might find some of Chez Sam’s posts of interest – she can be found here:

    Kind regards

    Anna :o]

  7. What brilliant photos - very Agatha Christie the Nile one!
    I had to laugh at you mad English people - a stroke of luck you realised before the journey started x

  8. ROFL on the seats things. Imagine - sitting near the loo instead of the luxury of a first class seat! ;)

    The was sure is lifelike. Would be kinda scary to see the wax figure at night, alone. ;p

  9. Great post. I also love Turner's paintings and can see the strong similarity in this picture to his work. Our trip to Egypt was cancelled by the State Department last May so I'll be moping over your pictures when you post them.

  10. Good morning Jenny

    The wax figure's face, I admit it creeps me out so much I scrolled it off the screen after a glance.
    Your photo really captures the wax spirit of the statue.

  11. Perhaps the ticket inspector thought you might be ill and needing quick access to the loo?

    The Egypt situation is worrying. We would like to have a short break from Exile and were thinking of NOT going to London for a change, but still the political situation in this part of the world is hardly inviting, nor the weather, frankly, in your part of the world.

    I look forward to the next travel installment.

    Best wishes Isabel

  12. Friedrich Josias does look a little distant but then I don't suppose many of us would look good cast in wax;-)

    I laughed at the tip-up seats - you don't get much for your money these days . . .

  13. The wax bust is uncannily lifelike, and very offputting. I agree, not the sort of person you could have a nice chat with. More like the sort of person who would sneer at your vulgar table manners and your sartorial deficiencies.

  14. Your story about the tickets made me smile!No doubt the man will remember you!:o)
    The old picture is very beautyful and interesting. People seem to be on a "dresine", (I don't know the english name, sorry..). I like to see the way people were dressed in old times.Times in Egypt were surely quieter then that today...

  15. A fascinating post with so many facets. The face is amazingly lifelike - particularly side on. Despite what you'd convinced me of in the previous post about visiting Egypt, after seeing the scenes on NZ TV last night I think I'll wait a while before thinking about it again. Like everyone else I was amused by the ticket incident and intrigued by the photo on the apparently un-powered bogie.

  16. Thanks to everyone for the comments. Rurousha, had to laugh at the idea of the Prinz as an astonished ticket inspector - perfect!!

    @Mamma has spoken, Never thought about not ever going on trains, they are part of life for me and I enjoy not having to drive.

    Alan, I really appreciate your nice comment, thank you, it made my day.

    Anna, thanks for your interesting post, and for the Chez Sam link - very interesting blog. I thought you were going to write about your romance ! :)

    Stephen, I hope you can get to Egypt. I wouldn't downplay the riots or the troubles but I really don't think there's been any trouble in the main tourist areas. Our foreign office gives Egypt a green light for travelling (no restrictions) but I have noticed other countries tend to be more jumpy, Australia is very cautious at present.
    Isabel, if I could go anywhere for a break I'd presently try the Winter Palace at Luxor, ideal for an overdose of the Agatha Christies, lovely weather Not cheap, though. Believe the Cataract at Aswan is also fab. But then, we are into ancient Egypt at present. Alternatively, northern Tenerife is just lovely at this time of year.
    Oh, Malyss, I don't know what the thing is called in English either, but I have an idea they were worked by a handle, or something. I don't know what they were used for though.

  17. Ah! that's right! it's called a Bogie. Still don't know what it is for or why on earth they would be sitting on it. Yes, not sure I would be making my way to Tahrir Square at this very moment. I hope the Cairo Museum is okay, it's so near.

  18. Loved reading about the episode with the tickets! I imagine the guard muttered 'crazy English' as he walked away.

    I wouldn't fancy going to Egypt right now... the mood isn't good. Still, I guess it doesn't apply everywhere.

    I often wonder how word verification is derived. The one on this comment box is monerial. Could writing about a train (monorail) have influenced it?

  19. that bust is really, really creepy.

    Great photos and thanks for popping by and commenting on my blog.

    Gill in Canada

  20. Hi Jenny, Thank you for stopping by this morning :) The Prinz is indeed lifelike - in fact, I thought he was until I started reading!! Enjoyed your tale about the tickets - he certainly must have thought it was all a bit odd... but he said nothing, lol!

  21. The good prince is a tiny bit creepy. I love this and all your photos. Thanks for stopping by my blog today.

  22. That realism is amazing that wax figure looked like a real person, incredible!. A beautiful journey. Greetings and good weekend.

  23. Greetings Jenny,
    My oh my, what a wondrous tale you tell. And your adventures on the train remind me of the misadventures I had whilst riding the wrong train in the wrong part of Belgium and ending up in the north in the wrong town with a similar name to a town in the south.
    What a fascinating article and your accompanying captions to the wonderful photos are superb.
    Have a lovely weekend.
    With respect, Gary

  24. As I thumbed my way down you post and came to the picture of Prinz Friedrich, I had the same reaction as you - lifelike and indeed creepy.

    That is a great picture of your ancestors. I wonder if that was considered first class travel.

  25. Strange that they didn't tell you your tickets was first class and you had a seat reservation when you bought them; they should really have told you, especially since they cost more than a standard ticket with no seat reservation.
    As for the lockable luggage rail, I've never seen one, and I am on trains a lot, so that must have been a really posh, modern train :-)
    The wax bust is scary enough to make me NOT want to spend the night in that room! First time ever I heard of the man.

  26. @librarian, yes it was a beautiful modern train and when we got into first class there was a hostess who gave us chocolates! The tickets were comped by Rail Europe so I had not paid otherwise I would not have made that mistake! Luckily I was amused rather than annoyed

    @Starting over- haha first class on the bogie ! :) good observation!

    @Gary now I find myself wondering what you did next!. Wrong town, oh my! !

    Nice to meet you Carol Gill and Jane thanks for your comments. Valerie I fear you are right as far as Cairo is concerned at present.

  27. The Turner impression is good. And I loved the ticket inspector story.

  28. A really interesting post, thoroughly enjoyable read. (You sure he doesn't look bug-eyed because he's been dead so long?)

  29. I like the idea of being able to lock the bags onto the racks. I can't remember how it is here, though... I haven't been on a train in ages.

  30. great story; good idea to be able to lock the bags! even in Germany then. love the ticket inspector. those wax models are so creepy. Egypt sounds fascinating too, especially combined with your personal historic connections.

  31. A lovely amusing informative post. I like the header photo very much.

  32. Locking the luggage in the rack? I know I would lose the key!

  33. Hi, Jenny! Fabulous blog you created :o) Love your pictures! Already your follower!
    Thanks for your sweet comment on my blog :o)
    P.S. Please, came to enter my giveaway (if you like, of course :o)
    Warmest wishes from Russia

  34. Thanks for stopping by. I have thoroughly enjoyed visiting here, a wonderful read and great photos.

  35. Your train adventure sounds like something that might happen to me. The wax sculptures fascinate me for some reason. They are eerily life like.

    Thank you for visiting over at Living Life. The Hellebores are among my favorite blooms. I anxiously await the first bud each year.

  36. i adore travel entries...seeing places i would probably not see otherwise!!

    i like the idea of "locking luggage"....i have always had separation anxiety when i leave my luggage!!

    thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving such a sweet comment. your header photo is so pretty also, they look like crocus. mine are confused and are blooming already!!

  37. Great train seat story, glad you had the upgrade and didn't have to sit next to the toilets all the way tho.

    The wax figure is spooky!


  38. I like the idea of being able to lock your luggage onto the rack. What a good thing you discovered your First Class seats in time:) The bust of Prince Friedrich is amazing, I've never seen one as lifelike as that.
    I love that family photograph - it looks remarkably like one of those railway trucks that you see in the silent movies! I wonder what they were doing? Fascinating!

  39. Mad English people ... that was such a funny story. And how terrific to have dug up your Agatha Christie era photos from your ancestors.

    I know what you mean -- I've taken to talking to all the old people (grandparents, aunts, uncles, parents and their friends) in order to catalog their stories and memories. I especially love to get different versions of the same events, sometimes colored passionately, based on the person's perspective!

    - Jenny

  40. Freidrich has a very patrician face


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