The flight from Heathrow to Frankfurt was remarkably routine. Although officially recorded as “delayed”, the flight crew did everything in their power to rush us onto the aircraft, and begin taxiing out to the runway. I would love to have heard the conversation between the aircraft and the control tower – it became evident that we were short-cutting the route to the runway – leapfrogging a number of waiting aircraft in the queue to takeoff.
While climbing away from Heathrow I heard the plaintive meows of a pet cat somewhere in the rear of the cabin. I wasn’t aware that animals could be brought into the cabin of passenger jets, but apparently I don’t know very much (either that, or it was a person performing rather odd cat impersonations).
The plane was only half full this morning. I had a group of three seats to myself, and busied myself with taking photos and giving myself a stiff neck as we rose further and further into the sky. After a few minutes the cabin crew came along with their trolley full of pastries and sandwiches. The girl that served me looked like a model from a magazine cover. Is it just me, or do airlines still get away with only hiring pretty girls as cabin crew ? I remember working in the city of London ten years ago, where it was very much the case that the banks only hired the most attractive women – you only had to sit outside at lunchtime to realise as much.
After an hour and a bit in the air, we descended towards Frankfurt – dipping through the rain clouds to slither onto the runway. While taxiing the crew mentioned something over the public address system about being close to the terminal building – prompting the lady behind me to start talking non stop about british airports where you have to walk from the aircraft. Five minutes later she found herself walking from the aircraft to a shuttle bus, and I couldn’t help grinning to myself.
After hurtling through the automated arrivals stalls (where your biometric passport is scanned, and you are then momentarily imprisoned in order to compare your photo with your passport), I found myself at an empty baggage carousel. After standing around and daydreaming quite spectacularly for a few minutes the luggage finally began arriving, and I got to watch the fun spectacle of strangers trying to identify their bags on a moving carousel. It’s never not funny. After a few moments my bag heaved into view, and I wisely waited for the bag to come to me, unlike everybody else who seemed to do a strange lurch/run/scramble as their bag appeared.
After leaving the airport, I had all the intentions of buying a train ticket for Frankfurt. Correct that – I actually bought a ticket. I bought a ticket before I looked at the train times, and realised that there would be no train for an hour and a half. Idiot! I backtracked through the airport, and found the taxi stand outside, where a taxi awaited – driven by the Turkish version of Nigel Mansell. Who knew Nigel Mansell could swear and cuss so wonderfully in German ?
I think we broke all records for getting from the airport to down-town Frankfurt, which was amazing to me because the taxi driver spent much of his time either playing with Google Maps, or texting his friends. After deciding that life was more important than being wrapped around a lamp-post somewhere in Frankfurt, I asked to be let out within walking distance of the hotel, and paid him to leave me alone.
While checking me into the hotel, the guy on reception mentioned something about electrical work, and I didn’t really understand what he was getting at. I paid a deposit by credit card, and made my way up to my room. Ah – so the electrical thing will be why the hotel corridors have no lighting then? Oh – and neither does my room – or working powerpoints.
I unpacked my clothes, pulled my coat back on, and then wandered back down to reception, where a young woman smiled at my approach.
“Any idea what time the electricity might be back on upstairs?”
“The electricians said maybe two hours?”
She smiled a very “please don’t give me any shit over it” kind of smile, and I smiled back, said everything was fine, and went on my way. Of course everything wasn’t fine – my work phone was nearly flat. I did have a camera though, and remembered that I was supposed to not be posting every damn thing over social media anyway. While wandering up the road from the hotel, it crossed my mind that although the camera will last all week, I have no wire to download anything from it until I go home. Unless I buy another one.
I ended up wandering around Frankfurt for the better part of two hours – eventualy wandering into O’Reillys – a fake Irish bar opposite the railway station. No sooner had I walked in when a friendly German guy wandered up, and offered me a table. No sooner had I taken my coat and scarf off, then I discovered it was somebody else’s table, because a swarthy faced guy wearing thick glasses re-appeared from the toilets and stood over me, frowning. I don’t think he anticipated that when I stood up, I would be a good ten inches taller. The waiter apologised non-stop for quite some time.
While sitting with a pint of Guinness, and eating a steak and ale pie, I earwigged the conversation two pretty german girls were having next to me. I couldn’t understand a word of it, but I knew they were talking about me after the server addressed me in English. I’m pretty sure they mentioned the Hufflepuff scarf too (it was draped over the back of the chair). I was too scared to try and talk to them, so examined my drink really very closely indeed for a number of minutes.
Half an hour later – after a diversion to the local grocery store – I arrived back at the hotel, and guess what – the electricity had been restored. I’m sitting at the desk in the room right now, typing this into the work laptop. The phone is back on charge, and the USB battery that point-blank refused to work earlier has miraculously started reporting that it’s fully charged. Go figure.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go and have 40 winks. I’ve been struggling to stay awake while writing this – so god only knows how you’ve stayed awake reading it.