Wednesday, March 28, 2012

European Diaries - Frankfurt and Rhine Valley

Let’s start with the beginning. The beginnings are always fun, right! Brimming with enthusiasm and optimism about a new place. There is something very refreshing about leaving behind the routine that life tends to become on most days. And here we were. 17 days of no looking back. No work and nothing to differentiate between a weekend and a weekday. So, in spite of the crappy delayed flight, we hop-skip-jumped into Frankfurt at 3 pm. I know familiarity breeds comfort for most people, but I absolutely love everything new and different. 
Our first view of Frankfurt
And different it was! Instructions were in German everywhere. The place looked like a maze and we two kids looked around with big eyes for daddy dearest (you'll know what I mean when I write about Amsterdam :)). Even using the pay-phones seemed like a Herculean task, till our host of the city decided to play savior, to our utter relief.

Random shop at Frankfurt station
5 pm, 16th September, Frankfurt – Sunny day today. The city has bistros all around, just like I imagined any European city to be. Unlike India, no one seems to be in a rush to reach anywhere. Coffee, bier (beer) and cigarettes seem to be the norm here. Had Turkish food for lunch. Something called Doner kebabs! Really nice and cheap stuff!

Back home, water is the most undervalued commodity. You’ve got to travel here to realize otherwise. You got to pay for it everywhere! The coffee shop we went to after lunch, we kept looking around that someone will offer water. Beer is definitely much more easily sourced here.

While walking around town
Frankfurt's skyline
I had scribbled that and headed out to check Frankfurt’s nightlife. One of my worst decisions was an impulse shoe splurge in Hako. I kid you not; I spent 100 Euros on that pair of shoes! It’s been the butt of many a jokes till date. I had to buy it because we had just carried sneakers and well, clubbing and sneakers put together is not a good image apparently. Sunshine got her shoes for 10 Euros. Yes, TEN euros! You know why? Because the shop lady thought the left and the right pair were a slightly different colour of beige! I actually suggested not so subtly that I too am open to buying such footwear. But that didn’t go down so well with the German sense of humor (I wasn’t even kidding!). Anyway, to cut a long story short, I wore my ridiculously expensive shoes to watch drunk people dance to the usual music. You know the kind which sounds exactly the same when you hear it continuously! I think age caught up real quick that day. :D

Next day, the Rhine cruise was on the cards. We had booked our tour with the Primus Linie. Few times a year, there is a huge fireworks display called 'Rhine in Flames'. We had actually planned our trip around it. The cruise starts from Mainz, which in itself is a beautiful place to walk around. But, anyone who knows us even a little bit can predictably guess that we were running really late. So, the lazy walk in the sun that we had hoped for, turned into a jog in the bylanes of Mainz.


Mainz
3 pm, 17th September, Rhine Cruise – Started out as a grey chilly day. We are sitting on the top deck in spite of the weather. The landscape is unbelievably beautiful! There’s not much conversation. Content with the music, view and some beer named Binding.

German music is very chirpy. We almost seem like the oldies in the group! Everyone is singing and dancing to German music all around us. Affection is more openly expressed here. Heartwarming to see old couples dancing to Que Sera Sera. Don’t know why we are so reserved when it comes to simple things like a hug. J

Top deck of the Rhine cruise boat

Scenery during the Cruise
All the ships got together at St. Goar. The synchronized fireworks that followed took our mind completely off the freezing temperature! Castles after castles were lit up in every direction. The cruise was worth every penny!
Fireworks at St. Goar
9 am 18th September, on our way to Amsterdam – Travelling at 280 km/hr! Listening to music in a language I don’t understand, but I definitely like. Ordered Café Crème and started writing. Mental note – Café Crème is black coffee. Do not order henceforward!

Love German pronunciations. J Completely different from how the words are. Robin’s proficiency in German is a saving grace, considering everything around us including the menu is in German! Today’s breakfast was ‘Bunter Nudelsalat – mit Geflugelfleischkase’ (some dots on some alphabets are missing, just because am too lazy to note that down :D). Robin says that means – noodle salad with meat of flying things! I am amused, to say the least. J
The menu in Bahn -
 the German Railway
Been two days in Europe and I got to put this down – people dress to kill here! Matched to perfection..pink jackets with pink heels and sometimes hair to match! It is an absolute joy to just observe everyone. If only it wasn't an offence to click randomly, I would've been in a shooting frenzy! J

Completed Anne Frank’s Diary (again). Now, am all set to visit the Secret Annex in Amsterdam. Knowing very well that it is going to cause quite a few sleepless nights. Saw some guy actually peeing on some road in Frankfurt! To think that we curse Indian men! :D Here’s some random trivia. There’s some rule in Germany which says that your house should be similar to the houses in the neighbourhood. So, all houses in a locality look the same! Weird, right! J

Train travel in Europe is absolutely amazing. I went back to reading and enjoying my noodle salad. The trip had finally kickstarted…hostels, backpacks et al! J

More from Amsterdam. Signing off from Frankfurt!

3 comments:

  1. This is really interesting…
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  2. That photo of sunset on the Rhine is a great picture! We also did the Rhine cruise in September, but it was mostly castles and no firework!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Paul :) At the cost of being repetitive, your blog is amazing. The travel record is impressive to say the least. :)

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