I should preface this post with “I’ve never flown internationally.”
The checkin and customs procedures were smooth at Sydney Airport — I expected to see some Arabs crash-tackled or at least some belligerent Brits kicking up a stink. The only amusing incident involved the aptly named V. Malaka missing their flight.
The 200.000 hour flight was comfortable, even during the 6 hours of turbulence from India to the Middle East, and again over the Black Sea until we hit the European mainland.
When we arrived in Frankfurt, it was a balmy -5 and snowing lightly. Once again, no problems getting through “super-strict” German customs and collecting my luggage. Finding my way through the underground city that is Frankfurt Flughafen, however…
I followed the signs to “taxistand,” as by this stage I had no desire to wrangle with the ticket machines for the Deutsche Bahn (trains). The bastards have an infinite number of options, and it was coming onto German peak hour during a Frankfurt business convention. So I walked maybe 25km the airport, following “taxistand” the whole time. Once the signage stopped, I looked around. I saw toilets, businessmen, fire extinguishers… no taxis. Damn.
Looking around, I saw the train network maps. I found my station, and momentarily considered using the ticket machines. I thought about it a second time and decided to visit the DB ticket office instead. I was greeted with “How can I help you in German” and quickly asked for English. Unimpressed, she sold me a ticket to my train station, and I went down to the platform to wait.
On first impression, the train system seems tightly organised. Every train stops at every station (from what I can tell), but if you aren’t familiar with the train lines, it can be a little confusing. Hopping on the train, I found a seat quickly, even with 30kg of luggage.
I kept an eye out for the station “Frankfurt”, and not long into the trip saw “Frankfurt am Main Stadion”, so I jumped out. As it turns out, every station along this particular train line was “Frankfurt (something-or-other).” I got off at the wrong station.
I waited in the snow and the cold for another 20mins for the next train along the S8 to Frankfurt central, where I changed over to the S6 train line to my stop.
The trip to Groß Karben made me feel like I was travelling through Soviet Russia. Most of the area to the North of Frankfurt is old industrial or farmland, so the buildings are run down. The snow just added to the dreariness. I was a little depressed when I saw my station… run down (for a German station) and in the middle of nowhere. My comparison is: visiting Sydney as a tourist and then staying in Camden housing commission.
I wandered about the station for 20 mins looking for a map to point me in the direction of my hotel. Eventually finding it, I trekked like a damn Sherpa through the snow with my luggage to the hotel.
Despite the relatively bad scenery, the hotel staff were super-friendly and helpful, and (thank God) spoke 4 different languages.
I got my key, relaxed a little, and tried to get my phone to work. (PS Aldi here has its own phone network for anyone interested.)
I’ll be seeing Frankfurt city today amongst the business travellers, and then it’s off to Mainz to meet with friends.
Until then, feel free to email me or FB PM me. I’ll post my German number once I find a Vodafone SIM card.
Edit: I finally rigged my laptop to mount the SD Card from my camera properly. Meaning? Pictures!