Monday, November 05, 2012

Walking, Lederhosen, and Sunday in Frankfurt

The walk was gorgeous. We walked through a very touristy plaza that had building facades that looked like they were historical, but in reality were refurbished to give tourists somewhere to go. There were lots of German hofs with German-style food, but we were not heading out for that at all. We got to the river as the sun slipped lower, and were crossing over the river Main when the sun finally winked out and daylight slowly wound down.

The city began to sparkle and there were twinkling lights. It was very beautiful and very pretty to watch it all sparkle and light up. The Engineer walked us down some streets toward an older area of town.

"This part of town, back in the days when there was a military base here, is where all the GI's would go on payday. It had all the bars and restaurants, and now it's still a good place for bars and restaurants."

"Yeah, we have someplace like that in Korea. We call it Itaewon, sort of the same thing."

"The food here is very good. Do you like Turkish food?"

"I do."

"Well, I haven't been here in a few years but if the place I want to go to is still here, I think it will be perfect."

"Excellent."

Where we were headed was a quiet, busy, but somehow still quiet, little Turkish restaurant. When we walked in there was an old grandmother sitting in the front of the shop rolling out flatbreads and cooking them in the nearby stove. Each bread was kneaded and rolled out by hand, I took a quick picture while we asked if there would be a wait. We got lucky; as long as we didn't mind sitting by the window there was no wait. With some nice window seats we settled in for a nice meal. The wine was good and the food was amazing. We had a nice Turkish yogurt and cheese with the breadwhich was piping hot and tasted as good as it looked. The main course was just as good as the starters, with me having grilled chicken stuffed with spinach and light tomato sauce.

The Engineer had a great lamb roast that just fell off the bone and smelled and looked fantastic. I tasted a little bit and had to admit, throughout all my lamb-tasting adventures it was the best lamb I had eaten in quite some time, even beating out the lamb at Santorini's in Chicago. From there the night wound down a bit more...

My guide brought us back across the river, where the city sparkled off the water and finally to the train station. And, in less than three seconds managed to clear up all my confusion about the German subway, pointing out what the lines meant, and how to figure out where to get. He politely walked me back to my line and we said our good-nights and parted ways.

Since the area I was heading back to shut down around 8 (and it was 9:30) I decided to get off the train at the main station and grab a final bottle of wine to celebrate my last night in Germany and see if there might be anything else I wanted. My plan was (on Sunday) to do a bit more sightseeing and shopping now that I understood the city a bit more, but since I was on my own for the night I couldn't see any good reason why not to enjoy some wine.

Back at the shop from my first night, where my happy German clerk had opened the bottle for me, I found myself a nice red, and stood in line to get it opened once more. To my amusement, and to the amusement of the clerk who was assisting them, in front of me were two very, very drunk Germans.

It took me a second to realize this because I was a little focused on their clothes. And it took me about six more seconds to realize that they were not drunk German hipsters, they were in fact drunk Germans, celebrating Oktoberfest and wearing traditional lederhosen. Honest to goodness, made of old suede leather lederhosen, with stitched-in embroidered decorations. It looked for all the world like something a hipster would absolutely love. The Germans men were also holding two pilsner glasses that where sloshing back and forth and just barely managing not to hit the floor. As they staggered back out laughing and slapping each other on the back, I put my bottle of wine on the counter.

"Oh, this is a very good wine."

It was too: a Baron von Roscthchilde from 2009. Good wine, I was happy.

"You know with this, how about I open it for you and we have two glasses and just have it together?"

"Well if you have time." He smiled and opened the wine and said thank you and I went on my merry way.

As I was walking back into the station to look for the train, I noticed once again the staggering German festival goers, and they were really quite very much beyond drunk. So drunk, in fact, that they were having a little trouble figuring out how to use the ticket machine to get tickets for the train. I suspected it might have been easier if they had put down their pilsner glasses, but that didn't seem to be a priority. Instead they were working together to try to get tickets.

Apparently the drunkness was not helping with the reading, so friend number one was standing behind friend number two, who was bent half backward to get just far enough away from the ticket machine to make the words appear more clearly. Friend number one kept from number two from falling over, and friend number to held his outstretched hand trying to figure out how to punch the button for the ticket. It was something to see. So much so that I wanted to take a picture, but upon holding up my camera discovered to my great sadness that the phone battery was too low to activate the camera for a picture.

I would just have to enjoy the mental image of two staggering drunk Germans in lederhosen holding each other up while they tried to get tickets for the train, giggling, and sloshing about the whole time.

I could live with that.

The next day was my last in Germany and what I discovered was that, on Sundays, Germany was closed. I walked about a bit, saw the big church of St. Bartholomew that was build in the 1400's, snapped a few pictures and with that headed back to the restaurant to chill out and wait for my trip to the airport.

As I waited for my plane I had a nice dinner, some good wine, and bought a key chain. I slept fairly well on the thirteen-hour flight back. It was a good trip. Hopefully I'll get a chance to do it again!

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