Hiking report

Hiking at Wuppertal and street and music festival!


SEV. What is SEV?

When Onno spoke of SEV in the WhatsApp group yesterday, I was vaguely thinking about new sport cars or novel electronic techniques. SEV. Without thinking deeply about it, its morphology makes a somewhat modern and cool sound. I didn’t think much about it. After all, it must be related to Onno’s circumstances, I thought.

It was only this morning that I understood the gravity of my error: SEV stands for Schienenersatzverkehr, which is the generic term for the replacement transport system when the trains are not working. Yes. Today, there was no train between Düsseldorf and Wuppertal, for reasons we’ll never know. And this was only the beginning of the disaster.

I was really looking forward to today’s hike. Not only because it was taking place in Wuppertal, which is a relatively hilly region, for the first time after quite some time, but also because there were more than 80 people signing up on couch surfing. Even though I was sure there’d be less people, I was looking forward to knowing new people.

It was only a few minutes before the meeting time that I finally realized that there was no train to Wuppertal. They were saying they suspended all the trains due to construction work. Whatever the reason is, the connection was shown on their website when I looked for it. No idea when they decided to do so, but it’s almost like a wonder that they simply cancel all the trains with no further notice and it’s obviously a normal thing to everyone. Anyway, I might have known that it was cancelled if I had double checked it yesterday or day before. So far, probably it was my fault. But this was not the end of this story.

So they prepared buses between Düsseldorf and Wuppertal, which should replace all the trains. The one that we were planning to take was the one that would come from Venlo, and it’s a particularly important one that carries quite a lot of passengers every time. And what does the German railway do? They prepare a small bus. This hopeless box was overly overfilled, and just physically speaking, it was not possible to carry all the people waiting at the bus stop. We were all reassured when the bus driver told to those who were still outside that there was a second bus following. And of course, there was no second bus. Those who had to wait at the bus stop had to wait for the next one for almost an hour.

In the meantime, I was inside this overfilled bus which looked like the subway in the rush hour in Tokyo 20 years ago. And of course, this bus did not go where it was supposed to go. So instead of arriving at Wuppertal Vohwinkel, we arrived at Wuppertal central (which is farther away), from where we had to take a train to go back to Wuppertal Vohwinkel. By the way, this bus driver told us we should wait at the bus stop, because there was another bus arriving to take us to Wuppertal Vohwinkel. No one waited.

The trains between Wuppertal central and Vohwinkel did work. This one train that took us one station looked like a miracle train to us. Maybe for the German railway, this isn’t so exaggerated.

Anyway, at Vohwinkel, we had to wait for those who were still at Düsseldorf. There were also those who came from Bochum, Essen or Cologne, for whom it worked without a problem this morning. They had already waited for one hour by the time we arrived. And at this tasteless station, Wuppertal-Vohwinkel, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some of them who were regretting the decision to join us today. I don’t think many of them would come back in the future knowing that the transportation system is often like this in Germany.

Luckily for us, the bus that the rest of the people took did arrive at Vohwinkel. So in the end, we had a delay of only 2 hours or so when we started.

It’s a great honour to tell you that this was not the end of this story, but the other problems arose after the hike, so we can finally start talking about this hike here.

So Wuppertal. The starting point was the same as the one that we did more than a year ago, the very first one for which I created the trail myself. At that time, I thought I was extremely lucky to find that trail just by chance. It didn’t take much time after that to realize it doesn’t really matter where you go in Wuppertal. It is simply always great.

And this was also quite the case today. After leaving this path that I already knew, we were walking through a forest. Even though I don’t understand why there are so useless paths, I’m really grateful for their existence, whoever made them.

After so many sessions without up and down, it was fairly tough to continue walking until the break at Königshöhe. The very reason that we had a break there was because there was a restaurant there. Not more than that. But it turned out to be a beautiful grass field with a great view over Wuppertal. I’m pretty sure that I could impress the newcomers with this great place, even though I had no idea about it when I chose it beforehand. Some people took beer at this restaurant and brought where we were having a break. This restaurant was run by Italians and they didn’t mind their glasses/cups being taken away outside from their property. Nice to see Italians here again.

Right next to this place, there was a nice German flag, where we had a group picture. I still have no idea why people put their national flags, but they do it in many countries. Now in the meantime I did understand that it doesn’t mean to exclude foreigners, but it still appears to me like a very significant thing take photos in front of German flags with a lot of foreigners.

I must say, the original path that I had prepared was just boring and dangerous today, as there were many cars and bikes passing by. And like before the break, Jan flexibly changed the route and we were on a forest path again.

Going down the hill, we arrived at Wuppertal. I chose Wuppertal this week because of the street food and music festival of this week there. And just as Wuppertal is simply not the most exciting German city, this was probably the emptiest street food and music festival I’ve seen so far and the only one without music. Anyway, since we usually have to fight for a place to sit together, and since this was not the main focus of today’s hike, it might have been actually better for us this way. I don’t even mind the fact that they started even closing the vans while it was still bright outside and we were still there.

So, here comes the final twist of the day: after this festival, we went back to Wuppertal Hbf, where we took this floating train to go back to Wuppertal Vohwinkel. Usually there are direct trains to Düsseldorf from this station, but for the same reason (i.e. for unknown reasons), there was no direct train to Düsseldorf. According to the German railway app, there were still replacement buses going directly to Düsseldorf from Wuppertal Vohwinkel every 10 or 15 minutes or so. We waited outside. No bus came. At some point, we asked the driver of a local bus. He said there wouldn’t be any replacement bus.

And now, there were two possibilities. One, we go over Essen and Duisburg, which is like as if flying from New York to Los Angeles with a layover at Vancouver and Montreal. Two, we go over Solingen, which is like flying from New York to Los Angeles with a layover at Mexico city. Both possibilities sounded like the worst ones, but by this time we were starting to wonder whether it’s ever possible to go back to Düsseldorf. Having one possibility was already good enough.

And so we decided to go over Solingen. The train was supposed to arrive in 20 min. Then came the announcement that the train would have a 10 min delay. In the app it was said to be a 30 min delay. And not quite surprisingly, the app was right. With a platform change, we had to wait almost for an hour in total for this one particular train, in which the train driver started to insult other trains using the announcement system. At least we caught the connection at Solingen, the only one train that went properly today. It was almost 10pm when we came back. It was nice to be back in Düsseldorf again, which seemed so far away at some point this afternoon.

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