Monday, May 19, 2008

The Way to Karlsruhe

Although I'd have hoped for an exciting journey, it was pretty uneventful (that is, the rest of this can be skipped safely without disrupting the plot, if there is any). The flight with British Airway to London was a pleasant one, which is a welcoming change from the drive to DC and all the security checking with long, long lines in the airport. For some reason the flight was much shorter than I thought it would be, and my impression is that dinner, sleep and breakfast were compressed into less than 6 hours as if I almost gained time. I did not sleep and entertained myself with movie, doing nothing, and rebooting my laptop. [For those who know me, the movie (Godfather II) was probably the first movie I watched in the past year or so.]

The London Heathrow airport was quite a nice looking place, but I busied myself mainly with falling asleep while I was there… And a few hours later I was at Frankfurt, after falling asleep and consuming coffee on the flight from London.

Compared to Heathrow, the Frankfurt International Airport was not impressive at all, and the passport checking part was strangely reminiscent of the Chinese border, which I’ve been though two years ago; maybe it’s because of the uniforms of the German officers/police. Carrying two suitcases plus one heavy backpack is not fun at all, especially as I need to take a local train then the ICE train and carrying everything with me all the time.

Growing up in a city where no birds can survive the people’s appetite, I found the American birds, especially pigeons, unashamedly brazen, since they get so close to people and it takes so much to get them scared and fly away, but the American pigeons are nothing compared to the ones at the Frankfurt Haupfbahnhof. Those little brats walk leisurely in a indoor place, among people running and rushing to the departing trains, and they walks as if they are the legitimate customers of the train station; how dare them!

I was perennially wary of communication from airports, and it is no exception this time. I also reconfirmed my distrust for telephone in general: an operator told me that it costs about $21 for 3 minutes talk time back to the US, and the telephone booth ate up a few Euros before I gave up calling a local German number, while in contrast, 1 Euro worth of internet time (10 minutes) is enough for me to send a few necessary emails and even to browse around a bit.

While I was using the internet booth (at the Frankfurt Haupfbahnhof), a women came up to me and started talking German. Of course my panic mode immediately kicked in, and only after a few “Langsamer” and “Ich weiƟ nicht” did I grasp the keywords “Kleingeld” and “essen”. As my panic mode is still on, I quickly dismissed the women with the smallest cash I had with me, a 2 Euro coin. Immediately after the women left, I started regretting that I even responded to the women, let alone giving her money; one would think that since I lived in Baltimore, I would have known better about giving out money! Well, I guess I learned something, but sadly this was my first German conversation in Germany….

--at Haupfbahnhof Frankfurt.

No comments: