Week before last, Terese and I went to Frankfurt for me to get a bit of training, so I will have some more smarts. When we returned home, I had to make a quick trip down to Adana for a project that is about to conclude. I’ll be making another trip in week or so, but this topic needs to be about Frankfurt, as there is much to tell and show.
Germany is the land of my ancestors. It pretty much typifies Europe with one exception, among others – the Germans are larger in size. Not large as in Wal-Mart large, but they are big boned. It must be where I got my broad shoulders. The natives also have the rough facial features that my brothers and I have. I can’t complain as it keeps the riff-raff away.
The youth pretty much reflect the youth of Europe with their strange haircuts, leather clothing and men with facial makeup. Many men carry something that resembles a purse, which most are not feminine looking.
On Saturday, we rode the tram up to a major rail station where there are booths set up selling food and drink. It was about 11:30 in the morning, when we stopped at a crowded booth and ordered up two glasses of white wine, and stood under a canopy out of the light rain and watched the people.
We noticed that people would go to a booth for wine or German beer and take it over to another booth and order food, then sit on one of the picnic tables under the awnings to enjoy a perfect German lunch. We continued along the walk paths between the booths and tents looking through some of the shops. Terese purchased a scarf to wrap around her neck to keep out the cool wet breeze that was lightly blowing. Then we stopped at a favorite restaurant of mine, which is an old building that reminds me of a small train station from a century ago. Had sausages that were long thin hotdogs by our account, along with applevine (apple wine). Applevine is a light wine from apples that does not seem to have the alcohol content of regular wine. (Gary, is there such a thing as regular wine?) My brother is the family expert on wine and perhaps other nefarious things … except box wine, which my brother Quenton is the expert.
After eating, we strode down the side street to a Starbucks for coffee. We had to sit outside due to all the people who go to Starbucks and park their butt for several hours watching movies on the free Wi-Fi, with an occasional drink. Now, I realize that many of you feel that no one in their right mind would pay those prices for coffee, but there are many of us who do. I never mind paying $2 for a fresh strong cup of coffee. You get what you pay for.
We also took advantage of being in Frankfurt to meet with Josie, a good friend of Terese who worked in Addis with her, when we were there last year. She has two vibrant young girls with an incredible potential in life. Naomi and Emmanuela.
Naomi is 11, and when I pressed her on what she wanted to do in life, she replied a rock star but would settle for a fashion icon. Emmanuela is 8 and wants to be a ballerina. If not that, then maybe a librarian. Both of these girls love reading, which made me happy to hear. I hope I also have them convinced to do some writing for me, telling me about the countries they visited and what they were like. Hopefully, I’ll have some words from them I can post on my site. Again, I used my 95 year old mother as an example for writing.
The traffic here is unlike that of Ankara or Addis Ababa. Addis traffic was hindered by pedestrians, livestock and drivers who are always in a hurry and expect you to let them cut in front, even if there is no room for them. Forget any lines on the road as they are just for decoration. In Ankara, the traffic is a bit more defined, but the lines on the road are just a suggestion. The drivers will weave in and out among the lanes, mostly straddling them. As an aside note – one of the good people here in Turkey told me, he went to the US a number of years ago but was afraid to drive because of the strict rules. He knew he would have to stay in the lines. In Frankfurt, the traffic is not only well defined, but also enforced. Traffic travels at the same speed, everyone stays in their lanes and if a pedestrian walks across the road that is not designated as a crosswalk, they are given a hefty fine. Also, there are designated paths for bicycles, and you do not walk on those paths. All in all, the traffic, though may have been crowded at times, was refreshing.
In Frankfurt, we see many of the Smart Cars® which look like a scrunched up Volkswagen. The emergency vehicles have the familiar European, He-Haw sounds, as they rush around the corner of the hotel we stayed at.
Another favorite restaurant of the thousands in Frankfurt is Albert Wagner, where I first discovered the wonderful pork knuckle. I had been to Frankfurt a few years ago and ate one. The inside is relaxing and most of the seating is just picnic tables. Terese and I took her friend Josie.
Before and after pics of the pork knuckle, with plenty of applevine.
Then there is the “tower” across from the hotel we stayed at. It was where I had my first sampling of true German schnitzel during the previous visit. It has a nice outdoor seating area in its small courtyard. In the warmer weather, it is crowded but very enjoyable. Many people from the hotel eat there. Below is a picture of the castle and our hotel from the tram stop.
In Germany, I see a lot of family interactions. It’s common to see families out riding bikes together, and kids either riding their own bikes or sitting behind mom or dad. As I type this, I watched a father and very young son ride by the hotel windows, with the little one’s bike a fraction of the size of dad’s. Many times we will see the little ones in a stroller pushed by one of the parents. The family unit, if you want to call it that, gets out and mingles in public instead of planting their butts in front of the damn TV.
As I am typing this part I am setting in the hotel lobby, and there is an old German fellow who is watching TV. Probably in his 70’s with thick spectacles and a fanny pack around his waist with a stack of newspapers sitting in his lap. He’s watching the soccer game with the sound muted, but every now and then, will turn his head slightly to look at me. Don’t let that fool you.
He could be a spy sent by Moscow to watch me. Yeah, I know, but it’s a cool thought. In reality, the two years we were in Moscow, we did have a few good men follow us when we first arrive. Until they realized I was just a peon electrician working at the Embassy.