After a refreshing night sleep in our upgraded king size hotel room, two refreshing hot showers in a shower that had more knobs than an advanced coffee maker, and a last check of our room, we checked out of the Airport Sheradon and began our adventures in Frankfurt Airport.
I would like to state now that I have previous bias against Frankfurt Airport, today’s experiences only reinforce it.
We arrived in Terminal A and were told by a rather shrill little woman that we needed to be in Terminal B. This was hardly unexpected, I find it inevitable every time I fly out of Frankfurt that I always arrive at the wrong place to check in.
We arrived at Terminal B and checked in with out any problems. Then we were informed we would need to proceed to C2 to go through “American Security Procedures” and a “shuttle bus” would take us to our terminal.
American Security procedures were actually more lax than those in the US (and far more lax than the previous time I’d attempted to leave Frankfurt). No shoes came off, the computer stayed in the bag, neither of us got wanded. The beefy security guy seemed almost dissapointed neither of us had beeped. We’d checked all our liquids, which seemed to be the new trend in “American Security” (the large signs were everywhere), so we had nothing exciting to paw though. It was rather anticlimactic.
On the bus we were given no real instruction, or direction. Our fellow passengers were as confused as we were, but we followed the heard off the bus and up the stairs labeled “After January 2007 this entrance is off limits to passengers. AIRLINE PERSONAL ONLY.” Gavin found the irony amusing.
We then had to pass through another Boarding Card Check Point. The woman two people in front of us, who was not a U.S. Citizen, did not know the address of the place she would be staying and some confusion ensued. Apparently if you’re not a U.S. Citizen you have to have the address of the first place you’re staying incase they want to check up on you later. The other lines breezed past us and we stood there as the woman got more confused and the Card Checker got more frustrated. Finally a superior was called over to clear up the matter.
Because I am an amazing and wonderful wife, I offered (rather stupidly) to go find Gavin something to drink. The ONLY drink stand accessible in the ENTIRE terminal (past the Boarding Card Check Point) was at the other end from where we were, and had a line with about fifteen people. It was being run by a single, easily distracted little man who spoke barely passable German, and a smattering of English.
To make matters more amusing, a petite woman in long traditional Indian dress kept trying to cut in line. When she was finally told off by a large German a few people from the front, she appealed to a younger woman to buy her an expresso and pressed a few coins into her hand. The young woman complied and the German had a few words to say about it all.
The line continued slowly until the woman two people in front of me (also in traditional Indian dress, although she carried a man’s wallet with a CA man’s drivers license) got to the counter. She pulled out a $20 dollar bill (US Currency) and wanted to buy some drinks. The following conversation ensued:
Little Man, looking at the $20 bill: “The change will be in Euros.”
Woman, perplexed/annoyed: “But I don’t want Euros.”
I would like to point out now that we are in FRANKFURT, which is in GERMANY which is part of the EUROPEAN UNION, and the current going currency is the EURO.
The woman poked through the wallet finally pulling out the $13 in ones, a ten and some change.
When I finally got to the counter the little man only had Bechers of Fanta, no Flasches. So I got Gavin a 0,3L Becher of Fanta for 3 Euros (he wanted Orange juice or Fanta, the OJ was 2,80 Euros and was a brand I’d never heard of, Fanta tends to be safe).
I got back to Gavin with the little Becher Fanta and related my story to him. He looked amused.
My second adventure was going to the Women’s WC. The moving sidewalk goes right past two temporary Women’s WCs, both of which, are locked. I learned this after going past them, walking back and trying both doors.
The real WC for Women is down near the end near the Snack Stand. It was dirty, and there was a line. There was a man in green cleaner’s coveralls who occasionally ran a damp mop over the floor making it slippery, he also opened the doors of the stalls of women who hadn’t locked the door properly. It was a rather revolting situation, but there were no other bathrooms.
When I got back to Gavin and our boarding area 22, a voice came on the loudspeaker asking us to exit the area so we could have our boarding passes scanned (again). We dutifully trekked out and formed two lines, one for questions, one for boarding card checking.
My question, where was the little lady to check our boarding cards? Fortunately we had company in our five-to-ten minute wait. Two robust comfortably dressed women from an “unsafe country” (some where in Africa, I missed the name), discussed the regulations (which they didn’t mind), and the very rude airport personal (their main gripe).
The two women were well spoken, educated and up-to-date on some pop-culture. They looked forward to going back to “Bean-Town,” and were very sociable. “Unsafe country” or not, the only way they’d be dangerous would be in a large well organized group, like the PTA, STUCO or a Human Rights Organization, fighting injustice and bad cafeteria food.
They were cheerfully disgruntled and had quite a few things to say about it all, and shared a few of their gems of wisdom with us: “George Bush is not the President of this country” (in response to being told the regulations were Bush’s fault) “If you want to search me get a room! Don’t go showin’ my skin to men!” (in response to being felt up by airport security personal) “That’s just rude, they are so rude!” (their general consensus of the airport personal). I couldn’t disagree with any of it.
At 10:30 a voice came over the loud speaker “Ladies and Gentlemen due to a mechanical problem we will not have information about when we will board until 11:30.” We were supposed to board at 10 and leave at 11.
Gavin turned to me:
“What time is it?”
“And we won’t know when we can board until 11:30?”
“And we can’t leave the gate?”
“Having fun yet?”
“Welcome to hell.”
In the distance a small child started screaming. All around us passengers started to grumble. It would be a long day. Fortunately Boston is our final destination.
I checked the prices for the T-Mobil internet Hot Spot usage. Eight euros for an hour, or 2 euros for 15 minutes, payable via credit card. I think not. The 18 euros for the 24-hour usage at the hotel was outrageous enough.
We boarded at 10:45 am. We were in row 55 out of 56 in the middle row, aisle and the seat next to the aisle. Gavin accused me of picking awful seats until I pointed out that he’d booked the flights.
The flight wasn’t too awful as flights go. The last half hour the baby behind us felt the need to loudly express it’s unhappiness at whatever the situation it had back there in row 56 was, which was, by far, the most unplesant part of our trip.
During the turbulance in the landing a bottle of white wine broke in the bin above me and slowly dripped onto me during the landing and taxiing. One of the other passanger’s bags got soaked, happily our bags were in a different bin.
Immigration went easily. Germany 10 days, weather was lovely (the woman looked envious), saw Oma for her 87th, stamp-stamp go on through. Baggage claim too a bit longer,
but everything came out fine. The machine belched luggage for about twenty minutes before spweing out our bags with their matching green-and-white stripped luggage belts.
Customs was equally easy. We declared we had spent 66.50 in Euros and we’d carefully itimized it. It was a bit of a joke really. Five euros on post cards, a Berlin Bear Figurine, a Glass Frog Prince, a Bear for the neighbor, Gummi Bears and Cocolates, and a book. Really big spenders. The guy glanced at us and our customs delceration and waved us past.
The taxi ride home was terrifying. Our apartment was still standing, our plants were OK, our window is still festering with rot, and we are ordering pizza for dinner.