It’s 9:27am, and I’m sitting in the middle of Terminal 2 at Heathrow airport, London. The taxi transfer arrived at our house precisely when it should this morning, prompting me to kiss the girls goodbye as they got ready for school, lift my bag onto my back, and carefully make my way out across the ice on the driveway to the waiting car.
A little under an hour later we arrived at the airport, and fifteen minutes after that I made it through check-in and security. I forgot to take my watch off, and had to stand in the body scanner before being waved through.
Airport terminals are strange places. There is a continual flow of people – everybody is going somewhere, or arriving from somewhere else. I’m sitting next to a Russian businessman (or at least I think he is Russian – I’m not great at accents). Across the way a Turkish woman is talking to a younger man – perhaps she is his mother? A Swedish girl sits opposite – she has impossibly blonde hair, and seems to be waiting for somebody. I can never understand people that keep their coats on at the airport – I packed mine in my checked-in baggage – the entire place is air conditioned, and the flight will be too. Of course they will all be laughing if we end up walking across the tarmac at Frankfurt in sub-zero temperatures.
I can see a Japanese pilot looking around in a store called “Bottega Veneta”. He’s buying jewelery for the lady accompanying him. Is it his girlfriend? His wife? His mistress? He has full uniform on, with gold stripes on his sleeves, and a formal braided cap. I wonder what it’s like – working in the “exclusive” stores in the airport? A Harrods watch store is just across the way – I haven’t seen a single customer in there yet – it must be incredibly boring. There’s only so many times you can polish the glass cabinets full of bracelets, necklaces, and watches.
Apparently my departure gate will be shown in ten minutes. Ten minutes to wrap up this blog post, connect to the airport WiFi, find a photo to go with it, and go find the gate.
(six hours pass)
The airplane flight was uneventful. I got in the wrong queue in the departure lounge, and fell to the back of the boarding queue as a result. I had visions of climbing over people to reach my seat, but thankfully found it and the adjacent seats unoccupied. After a few minutes a lady with black curly hair sat in the aisle seat, and closed her eyes. She didn’t open them for the remainder of the flight – communicating with cabin staff through nods and shakes of her head. I imagine she was petrified of flying. We won’t talk about the person behind me that spent half the flight applying ointment to some injury or other – the smell was like a sports injury clinic. We might mention the beautiful Lufthansa flight attendant that handed out sandwiches and drinks without once dropping her smile. I really don’t know how they do it – I would be inclined to stand at the front and shout “THERE ARE SANDWICHES OR COOKIES – CHOOSE BEFORE I GET TO YOU!”.
After landing at Frankfurt, I began the long walk through the airport and almost laughed out loud when I came to a T-Junction in the walkways – both directions pointing towards baggage reclaim. Of course now I’m wondering just where the other corridor lead to – was it the same carousel via a different route, or a very similar parallel universe ? I chose the busier direction, which happily turned out to be the correct direction. While waiting for my bags to arrive on the luggage carousel, I amused myself watching the other people waiting – who scrambled en-mass to the edge of the carousel as soon as it began moving. I have no idea what they were in such a rush for, because they had been sitting minding their own business seconds before.
My bag appeared pretty quickly, so I made for a cashpoint, and then the taxi rank – which seemed to be spectacularly empty of taxis. After looking around forlornly for a minute or two, I walked back into the terminal, and down to the railway station. The information board told be there would be a train to Frankfurt in 18 minutes. There was a number next to it – “5”. Was this the number of carriages? The ID number of the train? Maybe the number of the platform!? I bet on it being the platform number, and after a few minutes and twenty eight thousand flights of escalators, arrived in the airport railway station, standing at the edge of a pristine railway platform.
Frankfurt Railway station reminds me of a cleaner version of the big London stations – with the busyness turned down a few notches. After walking through the mayhem, and snapping a few photos along the way, I was out into the minus-something-or-other fresh air of the city.
So. The hotel. I knew it was only a few minutes walk, and I knew it was going to be good, but holy hell is it ever good. I have become so used to staying in budget hotels with work, it’s something of a shock to the system to stay somewhere *nice*. From the glass lifts, to the modernist landings, and the stark “nordic” styled rooms, it’s a far cry from anywhere I have stayed in the last few years. The room has a huge window looking out over the city – if only I had a telescope, I could look in on people being busy in the various towerblocks that now illuminate the night sky.
After unpacking, and doing imaginary happy cartwheels around the room, I wandered down to the bar and bought myself a drink. I NEVER do this. Or very rarely, anyway. It was only 4pm, and seemed wrong somehow. I sat with my Bullet Journal and a tall glass of German beer while the bartender girl busied herself with preparations for the evening ahead. She quietly wandered over with a glass full of peanuts for me, and grinned as she walked away.
Time ticked on, and I thought I should probably get something to eat. I remembered a restaurant a little way back along the road – a Japanese noodle bar called “Mosch Mosch”, so grabbed my coat and set off.
I’m not quite sure what the difference might be between Japanese, Chinese, and Thai noodles, but they were amazing. I bought a huge bowl of “Glucksgefuhle”. Don’t ask me to translate it. It had beef, pork, noodles, vegetables, broth, beansprouts, and all sorts of noodles in it. I thought I might not be able to finish it. The server at my table was a tiny Japanese girl, who ran quietly from table to table, grinning a huge toothy grin, and talking in the tinkliest tinkerbell voice I think I’ve ever heard. I gave her a tip, and she bowed. I guess some cultural stereotypes are real.
I’m sitting back in the hotel room now. Home for the evening. It’s 7:30pm. I’m in a foreign city, surrounded by clubs, bars, and restaurants, and I’m sitting on my own in my room. I know how to live. A part of me wants to go out for the evening, but another part of me knows I need to have my brain engaged tomorrow.