I’m currently in Frankfurt Germany, the land of my ancestry, for training, and will be here for two weeks. For many years I kept a German 10 pfennig in my pocket to remind myself there are other places in the world than Pampa, Texas.  I don’t know what happened to that coin, but I have never forgotten what it represented.

I will gain about 5 pounds while here; no probably 10.  I’m talking schnitzel, bratwurst and German beer.  With a diet of pork every day, I would get very fat if I stayed too long.  One associate told me, when he was posted here he gained 30 pounds.  I believe it.  The Germans themselves are an interesting lot.  The adults don’t yell when they speak among themselves like the Italians and Russians, but the younger ones are arrogant and noisy.  The natives are tall and big boned compared to other parts of the world, and the older women are quite robust.

The other night I sat having a salad at the nearest schnitzel house, when a stern German sat down at the other end of the table.  His movements remind me of a robot.  In staccato movements, he cut the meat, stabbed it with a fork, and placed the meat in his mouth then placed the fork down on the table while he chewed X number of times.  Then repeated the process for ever bite.  What’s more, I sense they do this purposely, not just a habit.  If I asked him why he ate that way, … well, ….  no telling what he might have said.

My boss is here for training also, and Sunday we decided to go sight-seeing  along the Main river where there are several large churches.  We came across one with a tall steeple and bell tower that we could pay 3 Euros and climb the spiral staircase to the top.  So we did.  All 328 steps in a dizzying spiral.  Up and then down.  I had to stop a few times to suck air before continuing.

It was amazing to see the sculpture of the building up close.  If you look at the picture below, you will see one of the many gargoyles mounted on the building.  Generally, gargoyles are used to hide the drain spouts.

It was truly awesome to look up close to the tool marks from centuries ago, that the builders left on the edifice.  I could see places they repaired the building, adding strapping where cracks were starting to form.

When I first arrived in Frankfurt, from the moment the plane landed, it took 4 hours exactly to get to my hotel.  I had a specific set of instructions posted by the hotel, on how to arrive to the premises.  They really made sense, because I took the time to study the public transportation system before arriving.  But as I realized, not everything is in English.  It took about an hour wandering around the train station at the airport, to figure out how to buy a train ticket.  I knew what train I needed, but the vending machine wanted to know my destination.  And all the destinations are in German.  No way to convert German names to English.  Finally decided to get into a long line at a counter to see if the people behind the counter could help.  Once I finally got the front and showed the gentlemen the info from the hotel, he said, No problem.  He clicked here and there and then said, 4 Euros, 20, please, and handed me a ticket.  I got on the train he pointed to.  It traveled so many kilometers then stopped. I had to get off.  Turned out I did not board the correct train and only ended up part way.  Had to figure out which train I needed to take me the rest of the way.

Using the old reliable Nolte intuition, I finally found where I needed to go and got to the next point I needed.  Then I had to board either bus number 30, or tram number 18.  The Nolte intuition failed me and I boarded bus number 18.  Not bus 30.  Not tram 18, but bus 18.  By the time I realized something was wrong, I was about a half kilometer off the route I wanted.  Grabbed my suitcase and jumped off at the next stop and walked back to the beginning. I did eventually arrived at the hotel and have since learned the peculiarities of the German system.  I learned that tram 18, somehow turns to tram 12 while you are riding it.

But the system is superb.  You can get anywhere in the city without a vehicle.  And the ticketing is just as unique.  You buy a ticket for where you want to go at one of the many vending machines along the routes, then you board the bus/tram/train.  No one verifies your ticket.  It based on the honor system.  They do have people who wander through the system stopping people and checking to see if you have your ticket.  If not, its’ a 40 Euro fine.

I’m sitting outside in front of the hotel as I work on this piece with the traffic passing by.  Very different from Addis, as there is a smooth transition of the traffic.  Compared to Addis, even with the traffic out here, it’s serene.  No hordes of pedestrians and no beasts of burden.  No honking and no beggars.  There are two sidewalks.  One for pedestrians and the other for bicycles.  There are enough bicycle riders in the city, that it’s best not to walk on their path.  I have to keep watching over my shoulder to see if a cyclist is coming to avoid being in their way.  But that’s a good thing in my book.

Just now, a friendly looking gentleman shuffled by with his cane, carrying his morning newspaper under his arm.

Frankfurt does have its bizarre moments.  Saturday, my boss and I went down by one of the metro stations to go through some of the stores in the area.  When we arrived at the station, there was a gay pride parade passing through.  Now I have seen some strange things in my life, but nothing like this.  I have seen aspects of this on the Internet and the News, but never in person.  Some of you will say, How cool!  I’d love to be there!  Well, I beg to differ.  When you see grown men wearing makeup and dancing around wearing nothing but ballet tutus, it’s not awe inspiring.  To make it worse, they all had lipstick all over them and not just their faces.  Some of the women were dressed in very little, and some dressed like barbarians.  There was a couple that looked like two bulldogs.  These were just the tip of the iceberg of what was out there.  Luckily I did not have my camera with me.

I didn’t stay around and watch, but had to walk through the throng of these people and their supporters to get where we wanted to go.  If these people have their lifestyles, so be it, but to flaunt it in a grand array just adds fire to those who find it detestable.  And the gay community wonders why not everyone supports their way of life.

Well, now I have a bad taste in my mouth.  I’ll upload this and then head to the Consulate for lunch.  Today I do not have a class, so I have time to catch up on some writing.