Travelling by train seems to be good for my mind, as those precious few people who read this blog may have noticed, at least as long as I am not stuck for 1 3/4 hours in Fulda and lose my reservation along with the connection or some other such minor hiccup, courtesy of Deutsche Bahn.
My last train trip was to Cologne and back, where I spent the week working at a fair.
The ICE stops, among other places, in Mannheim, and so it was already slowing down when we came through the Handelshafen area there on our way in; otherwise, I would never have come across the unexpected beauty this blog entry is about.
Like all freight harbours (this one being the Rhine/Neckar harbour), it is far from picturesque.
It is surrounded by industrial zones and some rather shabby living quarters; the actual harbour area itself is dotted with dilapidated warehouses and rusty iron structures that once certainly served their purpose well but have long gone out of use.
Amidst all those boarded-up doors and smashed-in windows, sooty brick walls and crumbling concrete pillars, suddenly a tiny enclave of life and colour comes into view.
Someone has created a small garden on top of the flat roof of one of the more stable-looking buildings, complete with white-washed walls and potted plants.
There is even a deckchair, waiting for its owner to sit down and have a rest.
And the plants are not just put there and left to their own devices; they look well cared for and have been placed carefully so that they provide a little oasis of green in middle of all the dusty greys and browns.
Whoever lives in that house has probably, at some stage, taken the decision to stay instead of moving to some nicer quarters, but instead of resigning themselves to the surrounding shabbiness and neglect, they have claimed this their very own corner of the earth, and have done well at that.
Sometimes there is beauty to be found in the most unexpected places.
Thinking of Pripyat now and wishing I could go there and see it for myself.