Monday, August 4, 2008

One night in Frankfurt - Summer heat and no sleep

The Lufthansa strike forced me to overnight in Frankfurt yesterday. I left India one day early in order to ensure I arrived home by August 5th and avoid further delays. I surely would have missed my connection otherwise.

What a break! I was put in a hotel in town. The Euro is twice as expensive as the not so mighty dollar now. My last experience with spending money in Germany was in 1991, when we had a fair advantage. No More! Frankfurt is a small city with one of the biggest and busiest airports in the world. I didnt realize how small it was and how dead it was. Its a financial hub of Europe - the downtown is simply full of banks.

The hotel called "Victoria Hotel" was at average the best. For the same rate not only did I enjoy a very modern and airconditioned room in Pune, but a free ride to work every day and service to my beck and call. This hotel had no concept of service. I was asked to come down to get a US style plug - which turned out they didnt have. Yesterday was one of the warmest days in Frankfurt. The concept of airconditioning is quite different here. Its just a gentle buzzing sound of the vent, with no cool air. The heat was unbearable. When I called to complain I was told - "this is not America sir, we don't require much airconditioning". Aha... Incredible Germany! I should remember.

The hotel was located in a cultural hub. Bars, restaurants, food stores, cafes representing every culture. Indian, Turkish, Lebanese, Chinese, Japanese - you name it and it was there all around the block. That was the saving grace but at the same time the death knell for peace and tranquility - not to mention several Beer Pubs. I have never seen so many BMWs and Mercedes parked in one spot. I walked around to the center of town. The only place where I could see some crowds. All you can hear is the noise of speeding cars - people drive aggressive here. A city very different from Munich.

I tried to find a yoga studio but none to be found - what I found instead was a row of Indian restaurants and grocery stores. I skiped Indian and tried Turkish and Thai food instead. So for a change I simply spent the day walking. The train station was amazing and you could just walk into the center of the universe for every European city. This is where you experience the culture. Cafes, stores, people and yes - Starbucks and McDonalds. I needed that! Interestingly enough other than the noise of cars whizing by, you couldn't really get a sense of the crowds, everyone relatively quiet.

The real action started after 10 pm, when the bars opened. I must have dozed off at 10 pm, with windows open to let the breeze in. And then around 2 am I was woken up by violent screaming and yelling. I thouht I heard Indian, but no it was either Turkish or German. A male was screaming bloody murder which could be heard accross the block and then wailing and screaming of a famale. It was non spot. I was frightened, but at the same time I wasn't sure if I should call the front desk. Sounded like a drunken brawl. It must have continued for an hour. I lost track of the time and the room felt like an oven.

I dozed off at 5 am and then the alarm woke me up at 6 am. It was time to get going to the airport and home. At check out the front desk person asked how my stay was - I said fine except for this fighting and noise last night. He responded "don't have the same problems where you come from"? I wasn't sure if he was refering to my country of birth or my country of domicile. I said well - depends but I am not used to such noise in the middle of the night. Breakfast was not ready as promised at 630 am. The waitress rolled in around 645 am, but promptly brought coffee and the cold breakfast was great. I took the whole experience in a stride. I didn't get much sleep, but it was a nice short break.

This will not be my last trip to Frankfurt, as it is where I usually change flights, but am not sure I will voluntarily spend another day outside the airport. Maybe Zurich, Berlin, Munich or Cologne or Stuttgart. I have a long list of cities I want to visit.

I am on my way back home finally and can't wait to see my two munchkins who I dearly miss. Yoga in Pune did me really good.


The Yogi

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