Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Can We Please Jaywalk?

July 30-31,  2012
Radisson Blu Frankfurt

I made it to Frankfurt, Europe's financial hub and home to the 3rd busiest airport in Europe (behind London and Paris).  My hope was to move my flight to South Africa up a day (flying on the 30th instead of the 31st), but unfortunately there was no space available so I was afforded 24 hours in Frankfurt... .not a bad compromise I guess.

Part of me was feeling adventurous so I even considered hopping on a flight or an overnight train to London to at least say I'd been to an Olympics, but due to the tight schedule on the 31st and no other flight options I thought better of it.  Might have to wait for Rio.

So Frankfurt it was and the only reason it ever became so was because my original flight to Johannesburg on Iberia (from Madrid) was cancelled as Iberia stopped flying the route back in March.  Thus American Airlines was forced to find me another option and Frankfurt and South African Airways was the winner.

The Germans are efficient.  There is a reason why their economy is still going strong and they are ready to help on the bailout of other European nations.  Their trains run on time, everyone speaks English and plain and simple... Things Get Done!

Upon arrival at Frankfurt's massive airport I took a combination of train and tram and arrived at my hotel, the Radisson Blu which they claim is the only round hotel in Europe.  The Radisson considers this hotel a "design" hotel and thus it is very quirky with lots of interesting "design" touches.  Industrial looking in some places, futuristic in others and just weird in others you wonder where the inspiration came from.   

I finally got to my room around 9pm and I wasn't too hungry but I was road weary and thus made a trip up to the 18th floor pool and spa area.  Now I've seen some cool pools on this trip but this was one of the best.  The pool was small but it had a current that you could swim agains, but for swimmers like me and Michael Phelps since we swim too fast, the current didn't do much.  However the pool has a huge window that you can see the entire Frankfurt skyline out of... pretty cool when you are floating on your back and looking out into the Frankfurt night.   The spa area also had showers and saunas with windows looking outward... a first for me.   I was now free of the travel grime, relaxed and ready for bed.

Like many European hotels, the Radisson does not believe in the King or Queen being part of the family... instead the put two twin beds together with a connector in the middle and they think their customers will be happy.  It wasn't too bad, but still not the best as I tossed and turned not knowing what twin I should be sleeping on.

Morning came and the breakfast buffet called my name.  Included in my friends and family rate of $93 was the normally $30 breakfast buffet.  It was probably the worst buffet breakfast of the trip... but then again I've been to some amazing spreads.   It filled the void left in my stomach from no dinner the night before though and I had a couple hours of Olympics to watch before my 1pm checkout.

With my flight not scheduled until 8:45pm I had some time to kill so I stored my bags at the hotel and boarded the tram for a ride into the old city center.   This was typical Germany.   Tons of sidewalk cafes, pigeons, churches and street performers... an easy way to kill 3 hours.  I wasn't hungry so I instead opted for a $6 Starbucks Java Chip Frap and watched a musician do his thing.

I returned to the hotel, got my bags and headed to the train station for the 15 minute ride to the airport... my 24 hours in Frankfurt were about to come to an end.

Thoughts on Germany... 

The Germans all speak English however NONE of their signage is in English, not in the subways, trams or many tourist sites.  Thus it was a bit hard to figure things out.   

They don't check tickets on the tram, subway or airport train.  There are no turnstiles to put your ticket in nor any conductors checking, so maybe I wasted the $15 or so that I spent on tickets.  Must be a very honest society.

The Germans don't jaywalk.   Honest to God, the first night walking to the hotel there were 5 of us waiting for a light to turn green for at least 3 minutes without a car in sight.  I wanted to just go, but I didn't want them making a citizen's arrest on me or anything.  

That's all I learned in 24 hours... it's time to head south of the Equator... Cape Town here I come!

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