Sour Kraut

Trip Start Sep 09, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Germany  ,
Saturday, November 11, 2006

I'm not going to do well here. I just don't fit in at all. I stick out like a sore thumb. I'm clearly not from around here. See, the corners of my mouth point to the sky. The corners of theirs point to hell. Which is why here in Frankfurt I'm an alien, I'm a legal alien, I'm an Englishman in the morgue.

As much as I needed the sleep I didn't get it. The lurgy has since promoted itself from nostril to lung and the constant tightening had me heaving most of the night trying to drag up hunks of phlegm. I got up in the end and decided to take advantage of the early opening breakfast. It wasn't much after 06:30 when I drifted in and helped myself to a strong black coffee. The spread looked fantastic.

As I began the assemblage of muesli and fruit a hidden door opened to my left and two dull heels clicked together on the clinical tiled floor beside me. He was tall, awkward and gangly-looking and stood rigid and soldier-like, peering in to me like a stubborn turd that just won't shift.
'Morning!' I gave him my best 'I've just won the lottery' greeting but it was clear he was above it all and that I was just juvenile. There was no way this slice of shit in front of him could afford breakfast.
'Room!' he demanded from me abruptly, his face impeccably expressionless, drained and cold.
'That'll be 21 then,' I replied and took an extra large helping of fruit before sitting down. He picked up my empty sugar wrappers reluctantly and disappeared back into his hole. He reappeared moments later and stood tall in the corner staring straight ahead in my direction. Nob.

The breakfast was good, the usual cold meat and cheese selection, bread rolls and preserves, pickles, olives and fruit juices. The plates, serving dishes, silverware and glassware were immaculate, the presentation perfect, as was the layout and decor of the room. Though clinical and very 'Twin Peaks' , it was extremely impressive and the food proved to be more than adequate, though having to sit silently trying to relax and enjoy my meal while Egor in the corner stood tall, arms straight and chin up watching my every move was unnerving to say the least. I started to get pissed off with it. How these idiots can so easily take the shine off an otherwise pleasant experience is totally beyond me.

I made occasional eye contact. There was no proper acknowledgement from him, no smile, no emotion, nothing. Nothing at all. I offered him a pickle but he was having none of it. An olive perhaps? No chance. A quick smile then, just a teeny one, no-one has to see. Not on your life sunshine. I looked around to make sure no one was looking, then I called him a tosser and he scurried off to get his boss. Actually I didn't say anything to him at all, I just left him a pile of my mess.

I met Tammi in the lobby just before lunch and we headed out. It was dull, cold and pouring with rain. This made immediate sense to me as to why I haven't seen a smile around here yet. This really is the closest I've been to English culture in over two years. We got ourselves a train 'day pass' and headed out to the Bergerstraße, where we had coffee in a busy but lively little coffee shop called the 'Cafe Kante'. We walked for ages through the countless straßen and day markets where I nibbled on fat green olives stuffed with creamy feta, and sampled breads, oils and pestos. We indulged in a huge bloated wurst with bread and mustard. It was divine.

It was great to see life in Frankfurt on a Saturday. The markets are swarming with people, street musicians adorn street corners, the architecture is grand and the small, dimly lit sweet shops are like something straight out of a fairytale. It's still disappointing to see people without smiles though. Even in shops - shop assistant to customer - people just don't smile at one another. Body language is very precise and deliberate. The mannerisms and general demeanour of people is extremely formal. It's just not me. I'm really struggling with this..
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