Greetings from Frankfurt

We had the usual uninspiring choice of movies for in flight entertainment. Mixed in with all the new releases was the Rocky Horror Picture Show. I was surrounded by kids, and opted to not watch it past the first song, since it wasn't clear that it had been cleaned up, but it was fun to know it was there.

Just the day before my folks were reminiscing about the days when you deplaned on the tarmac. Well, the good old days are back. Once we landed they had us take stairs down to the tarmac and waiting busses. I made it through customs in great time. In fact, when I asked a airline employee for directions to the train into town she was surprised I'd already collected all of my luggage. I pointed at my full pack and told her it was all I could carry, which she could certainly appreciate!

The plan was for me to go into town and meet a friend of my host at his office between 11:00 and noon. I'd already plotted my route on maps and Google Earth (which is playing a major roll in this trip). I wasn't worried about finding him, and I was relieved to be running early. The receptionist was expecting me. Apparently they don't get a lot of American backpackers there. I caught the bus to where I am staying. Again, thanks to Google Earth I not only knew the roads, but also the landmarks.

I dropped my bags and headed back out to grab some food and keep moving to keep my jetlag under control. Frankfurt was the first city I traveled independently in back in 2000. Back then I was intimidated to stray too far from my hostel. Now I am amazed how small the area I moved around in was, and I am much more comfortable moving about. I stumbled upon their Modern Art museum and took in the exhibits. The exhibit that drew me to the museum was a modern art installation on touring. They had a fake X-Ray machine that you passe' through to enter the exhibit and various comments on modern travel: boring airports, tourist traps, luggage, etc. It was fun, but describing it won't do it justice.

In the evening we went dancing which was a lot of fun. The dancers here are very friendly and much to my pleasure, they don't have enough leads! We stayed until 1:00 AM and the last hour was a struggle for me to keep my eyes open. It was a well attended dance as it was celebrating "Dancing in the May" which is a tradition in these parts. I'm looking forward to dancing with the group on Saturday.

Thursday, May 1
Thursday was May Day and a major bicycle race terminates a few blocks from where I'm staying. The car was pretty much blocked in so we walked around and checked out the festivities. It looked to me that they were prepared for more crowds than were gathering, but our leisurely lunch went right through when the races ended, so it's very possible the crowds appeared and promptly dissipated. There's been a big doping scandal and this is the last year (after 47 years) that the sponsor is going to be involved. It is not certain if another sponsor will step up or if the race will no longer occur.

We had lunch in a historic guest house with a big tower that dates back about 400-500 years. There is an outdoor courtyard and a live band was playing swing music. We agreed that it was a fairly uninspired band, but swing music is swing music and we still got a couple dances in. I tried a local delicacy: Grüne Soss . Green Sauce is apparently off putting because of its color, but it was delicious and I suspect owes something to cucumbers. They have free Wi-Fi there, so I've been back a couple times.

That evening I went back into town and took some fun night shots. My new digital camera is paying for itself now! The power to immediately see if slow exposures are blurred or not is liberating!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

As I was walking along I could see in the distance a "Hammering Man" sculpture! I knew there were others, but hadn't realized one was going to be here. Ever the tourist, I dutifully photographed it. I think it may have fit better in the large plaza it was in. In hindsight, Seattle's seems to be in too small a space.

After lunch I tracked down the abandoned prison is that is open for tours. I toured the prison top to bottom, taking LOTS of pictures in the process. It turns out I had walked right by it the day before without knowing it. Afterwards I ducked into C&A to try and find a sun hat. Turns out everything in the store was 20% off thanks to the holiday weekend, so I fought the bargain hunters and landed myself a deal. With that accomplished I headed home to have a snack before the dance.

The holiday hurt the attendance at the dance and the energy dropped steadily. The DJs had trouble playing danceable tempos. Still, I had some good dances and met a fun dancer who loved to practice her English so we hit it off.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

We took a day trip to wine country along the Rhein, joined by the dancer I'd met last night, which added to the treat. There were tourists everywhere, not a big surprise. The weather was perfect and the holiday had brought everyone out. We walked around and I grabbed pictures where I could. After a bite (and ice cream!) we took the ferry across the river and explored that town a bit. There was a gondola ride up the hill, over the vines to the statue of Germania. We made a stop in one last town to sample some wine, and as it turned out, hear Beatles songs performed acapella. Aside from the rush, it was very pleasant and I got more pictures. I tried their Pinot Noir, which was far lighter than I would expected, but on such warm day, when I probably should have been ordering white anyway, it was very pleasant.

To get back in time we hit 200mph on the Autobahn. I've yet to calculate how fast that is in mph, but I have no doubt it is the fastest I've ever gone in a car.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Per the travel agent's instructions, I reached the train station an hour early to activate my Eurrail pass. That took all of five minutes, so I had some time to kill. Better than being an hour late, of course. After initially getting on the train before mine, I made to my seat, paid for some WiFi and got caught up on my logs and website.