Last week, I went on a guided tour with a group of people I regularly organize outings for. We're all members of XING, a "social media" platform aimed at business people (comparable to LinkedIn), and I manage the Ludwigsburg group with 1.200 members. Most of these members never turn up and never say a word in our forum, but there is a nice core group of about 20 who meet more or less regularly to visit places of interest, have guided tours, listen to talks or just have a meal and some drinks together, plus a wider circle of every-now-and-thens of maybe 50.
The meeting last week took us to the freight container station situated next to Kornwestheim, the small town close to Ludwigsburg where I often get off the train to walk the rest of my way home from work.
Kornwestheim itself is small with less than 35.000 inhabitants (compared to Ludwigsburg's 90.000). All the more surprising is the fact that the freight container terminal is one of the - maybe even THE - largest one in Germany. Some facts about the terminal can be found here in English.
I had not brought my camera with me; for one thing, I had come directly from work and did not want to have my camera with me all day. Also, I trusted someone would take pictures anyway, and share them with me. And I was right :-) One of the group members took the pictures you can see here, except for the first one - that one I nicked from the official website.
We had a very interesting tour of about 1,5 hours, walking up and down the (considerable) length of the place. Our guide was the kind you want for such a tour: Enthusiastic and knowledgeable about his work, not boring you with endless facts, but answering all sorts of questions coming from the group.
Would you like the little glass cabin to the left to be your place of work for 8 hours every day? (There is no toilet up there. I've asked!)
The atmosphere of the place was fascinating. This was a busy work place for many people; the drivers delivering or picking up containers with their huge heavy lorries would spend anything from 15 minutes to two hours on the premises. The people running the place would be either out and about, manning the cranes and other devices, or at their desks, sorting out the paper work (there is still a surprising amount of papers to fill in, digital age or not).
And yet with all the business going on all the time (24/7 really), it did not feel hectic. The containers, lorries, trains and machinery involved are so big and heavy, nothing here happens at high speed. You can not swing tons of goods around high above the ground and do it fast! Instead, everything is happening at a steady, efficient pace.
We were all glad for having been allowed a glimpse into a world none of us was familiar with.