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I have a ticket, but there’s no boat!

Day Nine: Longest Post Ever!

December 16th, 2008 at 11:59 pm

Tuesday had arrived. The last day for me in Frankfurt, and in fact, all of Europe. The thought made me a little sad as I woke up, freezing on the floor of Philipp’s apartment. What a night.

Of course I owe Philipp a great deal of gratitude, so I hope that if he’s reading this he takes no offense. But the floor was cold, and as Philipp left for work in the morning, I realized that I had spent more time in the night trying to stay warm than actually sleeping. And then I realized I was lying on - and not in - a sleeping bag Philipp had left out for me. Ha!

Well I still owe you many thanks, Philipp, for your hospitality.

Following an extra hour of sleep under the warmth of the other sleep sack, I got the day started at the early hour of 11:00. I felt guilty for having slept in the extra time, but I couldn’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be, so I just enjoyed it. I’m on vacation, after all.

I have to admit, though, that I was a bit stumped by the shower. Jessy’s shower had only one wall and no curtain, but at least the shower head was mounted high on the wall. Here, there were no walls, and the hand held sprayer only reached about shoulder height. So I guess I’ll be squatting for my shower? How do Germans usually do this?!?

My first order of business was to get things packed up and stowed away. In doing so, I discovered an extra set of.. “essentials” stashed in my back pack (in the event of lost luggage). Great! That would save me the trouble of washing clothes.

So on to my second task instead - the grocery. I needed some food stuffs to bring home to the states, and there was a REWE just across the street, and since Philipp had left me a key, I made for it. I picked up as much candy, chocolate, wine, and whatever else I thought I could carry home and pack into my luggage.

Next, I was hungry. I reasoned that this might be my last chance at a real, authentic Döner Kebab, and this was probably the best place to get it, so I headed for the international cuisines of the Hauptbahnhof. There I found “Max & Moritz” and had myself a Kebob. Sorry you missed that one, Brian, but I’m sure you’re enjoying your €70 company lunch in Göttingen, too.

I had read on wikitravel.org that Bornheim and especially Sachsenhausen were particularly interesting parts of town, especially for their medieval architecture. So when I finished eating, I decided to see if I could find out what the fuss was about.

On the way there, I made note of two things to myself. First, the public transit here was much more difficult that I had previously thought. Trams and trains do not runs in a particular direction, like north/south, but rather to a destination, via some intermediate location. So if you want to get somewhere, you just have to know where it is. Which I did not.

Naturally, the locations I wanted were not exactly “on the map,” so I had to do a bit of guess work to reason out the right path. I came up a hair shy of where I thought I wanted to be, but no matter, the extra three block walk would be good for me.

It was during that three block walk that I made my second note: it was cold. Although the temperature was actually one or two degrees higher than what it had been in Munich, this was a foggy, think, moist, penetrating cold. It had chilled me right to the bone, even through my down coat, sweater, button shirt and undershirt. This cold knew know barriers.

Then I found Sachsenhausen. Or at least what I figured it should be. What I’d actually found was Schweizerstraße - a fine shopping district, lined with small boutiques and specialty shops. The experience was nice, but like the shops in downtown Athens, this all looked terribly expensive. I decided to go search for my trinkets at the Christkindlmarkt. I had been to a market everyday since arriving in Europe, so why stop now? Besides, I had liked what I had seen the day before, and this was my last chance to do my trinket shopping.

I described the markets in a previous post, but the sensory overload in Frankfurt’s market was unbelievable. Smells on incense, bratwurst, Glühwein, powdered sugar on waffles, candies nuts, candles, chocolate, and everything else Christmas-esque filled the air and your nostrils. Lights and trees on three sides of you, shop keepers hocking their wares all vied for the eye’s attention. The sounds of popcorn popping, people chattering over many a mug of Glühwein and the dull roar of a huge crowd imposed endlessly on your ears. And the thousands of people packed into the market made every step a bump into someone else’s shoulder. This was certainly an experience unlike any that we have in the U.S.A. - except maybe tailgating in Athens on a warm fall afternoon… that would come close.

By the time I was ready to leave (which was not actually that long, given the cold), I had spent more money that I intended to and was carrying quite a large bag of stuff. The one thing I hadn’t picked up was a bag of candied nuts. Some Mandeln or something would be good, and I made an attempt. Sadly, negotiations with the sweet old ladies in the nut stand did not go well. She did not understand a lick of English, and I couldn’t understand her dialect of German, not could I find the right words to speak. So I moved on without getting any nuts.

By now, the cold was seriously getting to me. I was tired of walking (the GPS reported about 7.9 miles thus far) and I was tired of freezing. There was something else, too. Having been tossed into the culture, My German was slowly improving, and so some people I was able to understand. Others I could not. My brain was beginning to tire of the translating. Always thinking back about the meaning of words, processing on delay the things people around me had said. I was ready to speak English again.

Back at Philipp’s apartment, I re-packed my luggage with my new goods. I wasn’t flying yet, so perfect packing wasn’t necessary, but I wanted to be ready. It didn’t take long, and soon Philipp was home. By now, I’d heard from Brian as well. Work was running late (”well that’s not gone well…”) and he would not be leaving Göttingen until about 20:00. So Philipp and I went back one last time to the Christkindlmarkt. Yes, one last return.

Holy lord this place was packed! What I had previously thought of as “busy” was just incomparable! Our mission was simple: get in, get a Bratwurst and Glühwein, and get out. It took 90 minutes.

It was surprising to me that Philipp insisted on driving. I’d had no problems with the trams (when I knew where I was going), but he persisted. I didn’t argue, but as you might expect, we spent some time looking for a place to park.

Finally, at about 21:20, I left for Dreieich-Buchslag. Philipp dropped me off at the Hauptbahnhof, and I went searching for the right train. As a testament to the efficiency and effectiveness of the rail system, (although it took a few minutes to read the maps) I had to wait less than one minute for the S3 Darmstädt train to arrive. Twenty minutes later, I deboarded at Dreieich-Buchslag. There was nothing here. Absolutely nothing.

Having no idea when or where Brian would arrive, I made a guess at the bus loop on the far side of the station. No sooner that I’d reached it, I heard a diesel engine turn the corner and the unmistakable glow of Bimmer headlamps illuminated the road ahead of me. It was Brian, and our timing could not have been better! This was like the end of a great race in Top Gear with both competitors reaching their destinations spot on.

From there we drove to Jan Adler’s house, or his mother’s house, to be exact. Jan took us to a local Italian kitchen (where is apparently quite regular) and we feasted. Oh did we feast! I splurged and even went for the Tiramisu - which was especially good, I thought.

Finally, we had a few more drinks in Jan’s loft at home and called it a night. It would be an early morning, and I was truthfully looking forward to getting home to Atlanta.

KML log of last day in Frankfurt

Written by jarrod.carlson

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