Written at 9am in the morning while perched at a coffee shop table among the skyscrapers of central Frankfurt, and posted at 8pm the same evening while sitting in the hotel, listening to rain dancing on the windows.
When I went to bed last night, I left the hotel window open – it’s force of habit. At home the children curse me for walking around the house opening windows on a morning. The open hotel window was probably why I woke so early this morning – by 6am the room was filled with the sound of the city waking around me.
I scraped myself out of bed by 7:30am, had a shower, re-filled my backpack with everything I might need for the day ahead, and caught up with email. By a little after 8 I was kicking my heels, wondering what to do with myself. I didn’t have to be in the office until 10am.
Without really thinking, I put my coat on, picked my bag up, and walked out of the hotel – off towards the office. The journey took almost exactly as long as Google predicted, and left me with over an hour to kill. Should I just sit by the river and read a book? Or wander along and look for a coffee shop? The search for a coffee shop won.
Here’s where I learned something about Germany – or more particularly about Frankfurt – there are hardly any coffee shops. I had to walk the better part of a mile to find the one I’m sitting in – a Starbucks in the heart of the financial district. At home there are coffee shops on every busy street corner – here they simply do not seem to exist. You might imagine – with this Starbucks being a lone outpost in a bustling city – that it would be overflowing with people, queuing for coffee as they do at home. You would be wrong – it’s almost empty.
My meeting is at 10am. I’m really beginning to wonder if the business hours are different in Germany – maybe the coffee shop is empty because people have not arrived for work yet. During the walk here through the city streets I noticed how quiet it is – compared to London it’s almost deserted. Maybe it’s just me – maybe London is the crazy place, and everywhere else is normal – maybe I’m just used to a different level of crazy than everybody else.