It’s rapidly becoming apparent to me that the rest of the world regards Australians as a pretty uncouth lot. I did my little bit to polish the brand by starting the morning with a thunderous bowel evacuation in the ensuite of my 8 person (mixed) dorm at the Frankfurt Hostel. I think I picked up a little gastro somewhere along the way (probably Britain, nothing is beneath them). It turns out that ensuites are something of a mixed blessing…
Usually Australians can console themselves with the knowledge that at least we’re not American. Unfortunately, the lone American in our dorm is a philosophy student currently studying in Florence, extremely well mannered, quiet, and fluent in German. Absolutely no cover for me.
I spent the morning exploring the old city of Frankfurt, it’s an area called the Römer (presumably the Romans had something to do with it – if I could read the information boards I would know). You can check out my flicker album if you’re into pictures (scroll to the bottom). My highlight was the Paulskirche, which hasn’t been a Kirche since the end of WW2, and which isn’t particularly old. It’s just a beautiful building. If I ever had to look for inspiration for a modern church design, I would begin with the Paulskirche in Frankfurt.
After the Römer I took the pedestrian bridge over the river Main. On the other bank they’d shut off the street and given it over to a huge market – it felt a bit like Paddy’s market in China town (but with Turkish people). It had the coolest collection of junk I have ever seen. Heaps of stalls selling bicycle parts, lots of old Soviet weirdness, My favourite was a stall selling little busts of Lenin and icons of Jesus. One place was selling car tyres. Who buys car tyres at a street market?
Every block or so was a stall selling wurst (sausages). They set up a giant circular grill (3 metres diameter) that is suspended by chains from a central pivot. Underneath are hot coals. When you place your order, the sausagemeisters spin the wheel of wurst and grab yours as it goes by. I watched the crowds for a while trying to work out how to order something. After a while some Spaniards, whose german was only slightly better than mine, came along and had a crack at wurst-purchasing. Their success inspired me with confidence, so I tried the same routine and ended up with a Bratwurst. Tasty.
After a bit more wandering and buying a kebab in the Turkish quarter (Germany has the largest Turkish population outside Turkey and most of the Turks in Frankfurt go shopping on a street one block from the Hostel) I said auf wiedersehen to Frankfurt. I now have a German Rail Pass that entitles me to ride the rails as far as I like for 5 (non-consecutive) days. It will get me through all the rest of my journey.
As soon as I arrived in Heidelberg it began to rain. I made the extremely foolish decision to walk to the Hostel (2.4kms away). I think I was just too freaked out at the thought of trying to negotiate a bus. I was totally soak by the time I got to the Hostel and my pack had nearly succeeded in folding my shoulders into my pelvis. When I collapsed in the foyer I was so totally destroyed that I couldn’t even pronounce ‘Sorry’, the one German word with which I’m becoming intimately acquainted. So, today I’ve managed to convince the Germans that I am both uncouth and retarded. The girl at reception was sympathetic, she even gave me a towel to dry my face and hair before she checked me in.
On the positive side, there are bears living next door. The Hostel is right alongside the Zoo and the Bear enclosure opens out onto the street (presumably to give you a taste of the further delights inside if you pay your entrance fee). So as I’m stumbling through the rain, I look up and sight an actual german bear (who also looked unimpressed by the rain). There is also a bird that I can hear from the window in my dorm and which keeps calling out stuff in german. Yes, there are birds who know more german than me. I hope the bears eat it.
[The Flickr album works best if you turn on the titles and descriptions. You need to go into full screen and then click ‘options’.]