Romping in Frankfurt, days II & III

March 9, 2011 § 3 Comments

Saturday morning, we got up and took a walk along the Main River. Beth had a spot she called “Duck Bridge” because of all the ducks around, so we made it a plan to walk there. On the way there, we saw a duck that had somehow crossed this very busy street and was just wandering around. Beth had brought some bread to feed the ducks, so we tried to lead this one (who was a bit lacking in the intelligence quotient department) back to the river. After leading it safely across two streets, the duck refused to go any further, so we resigned ourselves to failure. We walked a block or so more and looked back at our struggling friend, and he took flight (presumably back to the river). Success?

The walk along the river was very nice, and we did see a lot of ducks (but no swans). There were these two ducks sitting by the side of the river and there was this cute little boy who went up to them and said, “go back in the Main, go back.” (That was Beth’s translation; I don’t know German.) We didn’t see any swans but the weather was great (much warmer than Københagn) and it was a very nice morning.

Apparently Frankfurt has the nickname Mainhattan because it is a large financial center with some skyscrapers (and it is along the Main River, obviously). As Mike (Beth’s boyfriend) said, the only people who would call Frankfurt Mainhattan have never been to Manhattan.

We then took the tram back to Hauptbahnhof (the main train station), to meet Beth’s boyfriend Mike who lives about an hour away. On the way we stopped and got me a “Frankfurt Card,” which let me ride the trams for two days without paying again. While there, Beth and I each got a groovy Frankfurt tote bag for under 2 euros.

We then walked to a restaurant called Urban Kitchen for lunch. This restaurant, like the one we went to yesterday, was a different experience than restaurants in the US. Like in Danmark, water costs money (ug). You are also responsible for seating yourself and the waiter is very hands off. You have to ask for your check at the end of the meal instead of it being given to you. An impression that I also got was that, like in Danmark, eating out is not that popular. All of the restaurants we went to while I was in Germany were relatively empty. It was lunch time at the Urban Kitchen and there was one other table with people, and the place was pretty big.

(Excuse the bad picture of me. Keeping my eyes open in photos is not my strong point)

We then walked along this shopping street and went inside this cool mall that had a hole through it. Yes, a hole was built into the building. I can’t imagine how much that costs to build, but it did get us into the mall to look around (albeit we didn’t buy anything). The hole continued through the building and out the other side. Don’t really know how to explain it without pictures:

We then met up with Mike’s boss and his boss’s girlfriend. His boss, weirdly enough, had done his PhD at CMU. Small world. We went to this street festival place where I got a currywurst. Apparently it is a local Frankfurt food that is supposed to be a poor man’s steak and ketchup… or something. Basically it is a bratwurst with tomato sauce dumped on it, and then curry powder randomly on top. While I was eating it, it seemed OK, but they after I was done it made my stomach seriously upset. Something about the flavor of the curry not melding at all with the tomato/bratwurst combo. Kind of gross. But I figured that I needed to try it since I was in Frankfurt and all…

We then walked around some more until Mike had to catch his train. Beth and I went to an Ethiopian restaurant. When we were ordering, there were two different types of water on the menu, and we didn’t know the difference between them. The only difference we could discern was that one said 0.2L, and the other 0.3L (but they were the same price). To be adventures, haha, Beth ordered the 0.2L water and I ordered the 0.3L water, and then we were going to compare. The difference turned out to be that hers was sparkling, but they both also turned out to be 0.25L! We had a good laugh about me being cheated out of 0.05L… was funny, but I guess you had to be there.

We then took the tram to a super market, because I wanted to get chocolate to bring back to Danmark (chocolate is super expensive here), and we also wanted to get eggs and milk since I had brought Bisquick (from the US, originally) to make pancakes the following morning. After returning home, we watched Borat and then collapsed from all the walking we did…

The next day we got up and put that Bisquick to good use making chocolate chip pancakes. Apparently it is just as hard to find chocolate chips in Germany as it is in Danmark. Beth had asked her landlady to pick some up for her, and her landlady hadn’t know what they were, and came back with these things that were little chocolate disks. (They were big enough that we had to break them in fourths to get chip-like pieces).

We then went back to the center of town for the Fastnachtszug carnival parade. It was weird. People were dressed up in the most random of costumes (bubble bees, frogs, clowns, anything else you can think of) and almost every other group in the parade was prepubescent girls in leotards, holding batons but not twirling them. Additionally, all the marchers would shout out “Frankfurt–” and then the crowed would say back something that sounded like “Hello!” (It was actually a different word that is a specific carnival greeting.) All the marchers also threw out tons of candy, bagged popcorn, and other random things. Some of the random things I got: a cell phone charm, a sticky man that climbs down walls, and a bicycle light. I also got this marshmellow ice cream cone thing, but the marshmellow tasted as if it were older than I am. (Beth has a picture of that). Another peculiar thing is that a lot of people were dressed in black face for their costumes. When I got back to København and asked my floormates about this, they said it is also acceptable in Danmark. Weird, because it is considered so unacceptable/racist in the US. We also asked someone standing next to us in the crowd about blackface, and he said that they were dressed “dirty from cleaning.” (??? His wife disagreed with this assessment though.) There was also this group of Asian people who had a huge South Korean flag, and while Beth and I were trying to figure out their context in the parade, the last of them walked by with a huge ad for Hyundai.

We then went to a cupcake shop and ate cupcakes. Creative purpose for a cupcake shop, no? I got a coconut one and Beth got double chocolate.

Because no day would be complete without eating a gagillion times, we then went to this bar/restaurant that apparently is a popular spot with the locals, since the place was entirely jammed (and we were the youngest there by 20+ years). All we got was an apfelwein, which is basically a German wine/cider made of apples. Although cider is basically my favorite drink in Danmark (especially pear, om nom nom), I did not like this apfelwein at all. It had the bitterness of wine without the sweetness of cider.

Finally, we went to have a proper meal at a sushi restaurant, where you could get 18 plates from the conveyor belt for a flat price. I have always walked by sushi places with the belt and wanted to go, and Beth felt like sushi as her stomach was still a little upset from being sick. It was actually great fun and my favorite little dish was actually the electric green seaweed salad, which I consumed three of. Yum!

Another thing I forgot to add is that Beth has the weirdest toilet ever (apparently they are common in Germany though). The hole is at the front of the toilet instead of at the back, and instead of the whole interior being a bowl, there is a shelf on the back (without water) that essentially catches your shit as you go. This perplexed me enough that I looked it up, and apparently the two theories about this are 1) the poop shelf exists so you can examine your own poop and make sure it is parasite free and 2) the shelf exists so that the toilet bowl doesn’t splash back. In either case, weird weird weird.

Coming up in day IV: Beth goes to work and I go to Buchenwald.

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