The long and winding road .....
..... from Poland to England - except of course that in our case it's a railroad!
We're now on our way to England for Christmas. We stopped off first in Berlin and then in Wuppertal. Why Wuppertal? Because there's a temporary exhibition of work by Monet, who's one of my favourite artists. They've managed to gather paintings from lots of different galleries around the world, and the result is a real feast for the eye.
Apart from that, Wuppertal is a significant place for me because it was the destination of my first-ever trip abroad. I went there on a school exchange visit when I was twelve. I'd only been learning German for a year, but I found that I could understand at least some things that people said, and they seemed to understand at least some things I said. So it was a key experience for me, and the start of a whole series of connections with Germany, still continuing today. Wuppertal is famed - if it's famed for anything at all - for its Schwebebahn, which is an overhead suspension railway dating from the early 20th century. I used to be able to recite the names of all the stations by heart (and in the correct order!) but not any more - it's ages since I've travelled on it and I was looking forward to doing it again. Unfortunately, though, it's closed for renovation work.
Now we're in Brussels, and we're supposed to be catching the train to London tomorrow. Well, trains through the Channel Tunnel have been cancelled for the past three days, since a number of trains got stuck in it on Friday, causing all kinds of chaos and, worst of all, trapping some passengers in the tunnel for hours. It seems that somehow the high technology that runs the trains broke down because it couldn't handle the temperature difference between the cold weather on the French side and the relatively warm conditions in the tunnel. It seems incredible that such a thing's possible or, if it is possible, that it hadn't been foreseen and provided for. No doubt more detailed explanations will gradually emerge. Meanwhile, the lastest news is that they intend to start running a limited service tomorrow, so maybe we'll be able to catch a train, maybe not. I'll tell you next time!
Thanks for all your comments about trains, languages and so on.
Kirsti, I've read 'The Adventure of English' - and lots of other books about this topic! As you say, if you speak both Germanic and Romance languages, you've got a pretty good basis for making connections with English. With Polish, it's not so easy, though there are connections if you dig down below the surface of the languages. I speak Polish but I don't think it influences my English - I could be wrong, though!
Taru, I know a bit of Finnish - you could say I started learning it but didn't 'finnish' - and I've always been very impressed by how it uses so many home-grown words instead of international ones, e.g. puhelin (telephone). So I was very interested by your examples.
Pary, yes I do remember you. I've never been to Iran but I've got a good friend from Iran and I know from her accounts what a huge and varied and interesting country it is.
Answers to the vocabulary quiz in my last blog:
a system where you only need one ticket for a journey involving different types of transport and/or different transport companies - through ticketing
very steep - precipitous
stop working, collapse, become useless - break down
say/write that you're worried about something - express concern
strange, unfamiliar - alien
become extinct - die out
a vote by the population of a country to make a decision on one specific issue - a referendum
completely, fundamentally - radically
frightening - hair-raising
a growing trend - an increasing tendency
holding on very tightly - clinging
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