I was stuck. My week in Karlsruhe was over on Saturday and on Sunday I was meeting a friend from overseas who by supposed to be in Frankfurt. In the last moment he couldn’t make it, but my train tickets were already booked and paid for, so I was stuck in Frankfurt for a day. Since I was already there, I was going to make the best of it.
As I was leaving Karlsruhe that Sunday morning, the all-German punk and anarchist meeting was in full swing. Police was out in force and the station hall echoed with the battle cries of the already (or still?) drunk punks. In Frankfurt the setting couldn’t have been more different. Here instead of greasy hobo’s in fatigues the station was full of teenagers sunken deeply into their anime characters, in town for the Buchmesse, that apparently was having a cartoon day. There were queens, dwarfs, fairies, pokemons and god knows what else.
At the station I have violated pretty much all the rules of safe travelling by storing my passport and laptop in the station locker. Damn if I’m going to carry a 4-kg laptop around all day long. And the passport is just as safe there as it is in my pocket. A bit stunned by the technicolour garbs of the anime teens and feeling out of tune, out in the street I was welcomed to Frankfurt by the warm autumn sunshine.
Manoeuvring my way through the joggers on the river bank, I was accompanied on my morning stroll by the melancholic sounds of the accordion from the pedestrian bridge. The shiny appearance of the old Turk playing the accordion was completely out of sync with the melody he was producing. I always appreciate a good dose of irony, so this guy’s contradictory appearance earned him an extra Euro.
The many museums of the city (and the starting drizzle) were calling for a museum run. I’ve tricked the cashier of the Jugendgasse to count me as a student (it’s called being a PhD student for a reason), thereby also proving my credentials. Having thus aquired a solid discount, I pressed on to roam the slightly dull Jugendgasse, the way too German humour of the Comics museum and the superb Museum of Modern Art. I’ve had a good laugh about the kitschy modern glass and the ridiculous Baroque porcelain at the Museum of Applied Art and capped it off among the old masters and new arrivals in the Städel museum, having braved the line of Sunday art consumers.
It was already getting late, so I went to find me a dinner. For some reason I was set on finding Thai food, which proved to be the only kind unavailable in Frankfurt. I’ve browsed the whole red light district in vain (because that’s the place where restaurants are, and because it is close to the station, not because of what you were thinking). By now it was raining cats and dogs, and Chinese food seemed close enough. There were two restaurants named “Jade” on both sides of the street. “One’s as good as other” I thought and couldn’t have been more wrong. The first Jade I went into was packed. “One minute – you wait!” shouted the passing waitress. I waited for five minutes in vain and attempted to ask politely whether there was a chance of getting some food. My attempt was answered by now an angry “You wait!” The train was leaving in an hour, I was hungry and wet and in no mood or shape to “You wait!”
Crossing the street to Jade-2 was the best move I’ve done in weeks. The vegetable soup arrived within minutes to warm me, the fish with rice some-chinese-province-style filled me to the rim (and there was half of it left for a train snack). I enquired whether jasmine tea was served in pots. Apparently my question duly impressed (or insulted) the owner, since I’ve got the tea free of charge, so that the final bill was less than 10 Euro.
The train station was just 5 minutes walk from the Jade Wok. Having pulled my backpack from the locker I’ve changed into dry shoes and socks (blessed be a pair of dry socks at the right moment!) and boarded the ICE homeward. A day in Frankfurt – check!