Friday, April 04, 2008

Frankfurt

It's never easy in Frankfurt, is it?

This time it was easier than last though. We flew out of Dublin on time after a short confusion about not boarding people traveling with children as they were still fueling the plane. I helped a young Chinese woman load her bag in the overhead and when she thanked me in English, I responded in Chinese. She asked about my language and we had a long talk about how I learned it, where I worked, where I'd been and where she was from. She was excited that I had been to Hangzhou, as her town is close to there. I plugged in my head phones and went off to reading, she sat there making origami swans, one after another. She asked for help from the flight attendant on some tax matter (VAT return) and when the attendant left she told me my English was much better, and easier to understand. Language aside, Lufthansa flight attendants are the best - their smiles are permanently fused on their faces, and they are eager to be of assistance.

A bit into the flight I asked my traveling companion about her English skills and it turned out she was studying it in Dublin. When I observed in Chinese that she had made quite a few origami birds, she gave me two and grilled me on the colors, being quite surprised that I knew the word for "pink." She made me count to 100 when I told her the time in Chinese and articulated the correct number for the gate.

Lunch was a slab of cheese on a hard brown roll (not unlike what they might have eaten in 14th century Wittenburg) and a chocolate rice bar in which the rice was more like that found in a rice cake than a Nestles Crunch. The effect was odd but not unpleasing, because the chocolate was good.

We arrived a bit early and disembarked onto buses, taking a drive around the airport. I had hoped we would be delivered directly to the Lufthansa "C" terminal, but no such luck. Rather we were dropped at B and I needed blaze a trail from there.

I was able to see a much nicer side of Frankfurt this time, riding the escaltor up into the Goethe Food Court. I considered the irony of the name at length but was unable to come up with any. A major watch store beckoned, but I resisted although the romance of buying a Swiss timepiece in Germany was inviting.

No futuristic train ride this time, it was a brief walk between terminals and now I sit in yet another faux art deco United Airlines Red Carpet lounge feeling good that I dropped $800 at the end of last year to buy up to my current frequent flyer level. That and the fact that I avoided the scrum at the Lufthansa gate this morning by being the one and only person in the "special" line at check-in.

The view out the window is quite cosmopolitan - Air Canada, Thomas Cook Tours, United, Qatar Air - planes picking up and dropping off people from everywhere. On the way over I passed a jet from Air Iran, making me realize that we Americans might be the only people that don't like the Iranians.

I find sitting in these lounges sort of disconcerting, which I suppose is the precise opposite of what they are trying to convey. Either it's because I think I'm going to miss something or perhaps I just prefer to be out among the proletariat. I don't know why, but I do know that I prefer it out on the concourse.

Last night we took the Dublin Literary Pub Crawl. It's pretty much what it sounds like - 2 actors took us around the city, reading a bit of literature from Dublin's best known authors and stopping a 4 pubs that loomed large in their careers. There were about 40 people on the walk. We started out across the street from heard about Joyce and how he chose to site various locations in Ulysses. We heard a part of the first act of Waiting for Godot and listened to the story of Samuel Beckett's withdraw from the writing team of Oh Calcutta! due to the nudity. We ambled through Trinity College and stopped to reflect on Oscar Wilde. We walked up a hill to St. Andrew's Church, home now to the Ireland Tourism Board and formerly the site of a Viking meeting place and a Norman Church. We stopped at The Stand, Irish freedom fighter Michael Collins' favorite pub and ended at Davy Byrnes, Brendan Behan and Joyce's favorite spot. It was a great time, and I highly recommend it to anyone planning on spending some time in Dublin city.

That's it for now, it's time to head down to the gate for my leg to Shanghai. Back out among the proletariat!













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