Fichte Kränzi

Trip Start Sep 09, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Monday, November 13, 2006

For a minute there I thought I was going to lose my faith. But if last night was anything to go by, it's now restored in full. As different as we'll always be, German's aren't bad at all - though they did have me worried for a while. Some of them do smile. In fact some of them laugh heartily. And some of them are incredibly friendly, extremely hospitable and a lot of fun to be around.

By dusk we were in the north of the city checking out the Holzenhaus in Holzenhaus Park, 'the house with many windows and a moat' as was affectionately dubbed. We pondered on returning later to watch a youth orchestra play at the castello before moving on to the Eschenheimer Turm - the fairytale tower - which I found particularly enchanting, especially as it was sprouting out of the road in the middle of a junction next to the underground. This particular underground was 'dodgy as', the perfect movie set for an imminent scene of bloody violence. I'm amazed nothing happened.

We took a train over to the Südbahnhof where we found whole streets of inviting restaurants in the most unsuspecting of places. We were right in the depths of backstreetland somewhere, a location that I doubt I'll find again.

Eventually, we found 'Fichte Kränzi' - a hidden restaurant tucked away in a dark corner, immensely popular with the locals. It had been highly recommended to us by Tammi's Frankfurter friend Daniella. It was clearly well established. The decor was old - British Social Club old - and the room was reasonably small with large tables and long benches, every one of them densely packed with diners - all eating, drinking and smoking copious amounts.

The atmosphere was very much alive like a medieval banquet and they just about managed to squeeze us onto the end of a bench against a wall. We ordered a bier and some apfelwein, a local tipple clearly popular with the masses. Huge ceramic jugs of it sat on every table. Though we didn't understand much of it, the menu oozed simplicity and heartiness. We ordered a Jägerschnitzel mit hausgemachten Spätzle, a breaded steak smothered in a mushroom sauce with Spätzle - a local mongrel of a carbohydrate, somewhere between potato and pasta. Very odd. We also opted for the Leiterchen gegrillt mit Kraut und Brot, a half pig-like slab of the tenderest meat, bone and all, served with sauerkraut and bread. It was a feast of magnificent proportions. It was phenomenal.

The Fichte Kränzi is where we met Tamer, André and their friend Klaus, all locals who shuffled along the benches next to us to strike up a conversation after we'd finished dinner . It was on the cards really. We must have aroused interest from the outset. Really, what would a scruffy pommie skinhead and an American woman with bright white teeth be doing sitting in this little gold mine of a hideout, leering over the menu scratching heads?

The banter lasted for ages. They were thoroughly good blokes, great blokes, and we laughed hard. These guys were highly successful business types, absolutely loaded by my reckoning, and were incredibly down to earth, as down to earth as you can get. We talked for ages. I found Tamer particularly interesting. He's been Rowenta's International Product Director for for years and has just thrown it all in to live his dreams and write a book. It's written, printed and published too and already it's doing extremely well. Look at his website. Look at his face. He was thoroughly muntered and we had a superb night. Fantastic..

We left Fichte Kränzi around eleven and continued the night with André, over to another cheekily tucked away location near the Opera House Square, where they were celebrating the beginnings of the Köln Carnival from midnight onwards. As enjoyable as this was, I didn't last long. The infection in my lungs was at its peak and the cigarette smoke that cloaked the tiny packed out room was overwhelming. No thanks. I stayed for one and made a swift exit.

Tammi and I returned to the Textorstraße this afternoon by tram where we stumbled across Café Noah, another superb place tucked away amongst the maze of backstreets. We spent the rest of the afternoon strolling along the south bank of the River Main, a long stretch of road on which many of the museums are located. There's far too much choice for such a small amount of time but we settled for the Museum of Film, opting to to see a walk round exhibition on 'Das Boot'.

With so much packed in it was finally time to relax, and tonight saw the whole Frankfurt experience rounded off in style. I met Tammi in the lobby at eight and we took a tram over to Daniella's apartment. I was well impressed. Part of it had been bombed during the war and has since been rebuilt. It was refreshingly modern with a steel spiral staircase in the middle of the room and a piano occupying a large part of the external bricked wall. We had dinner in a classy Vietnamese restaurant around the corner, a quality feed with excellent company - the perfect round off to my Deutsch experience. Daniella's an art historian and lectures at Frankfurt University. I know nothing about art and very little about history so offered next to nothing in the way of stimulating conversation. Though I did get a few smiles. The food was sensational: strips of beef in turmeric, lemon grass and coconut milk, with a side of 'Binding', a locally brewed beer which accompanied the meal perfectly.

Tomorrow things start motoring. By late afternoon I'll be in Malaga, Spain. I've just emailed the folks telling them I'm still on shift and that I'll be around in the next couple of days to MSN or Skype with them. They don't suspect a thing..
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