Friday, August 28, 2009

Germany Trip... Part 7 Airport/Hotel Monotony

Sunday 8/16

Our flight was scheduled to leave around 9:30am. We set the alarm for 6:30. We slept pretty soundly (once the sun went down and the heat escaped our room). Wes woke up and freaked me out because he said we slept late (he was in charge of the alarm clock). We rushed through dressing and last minute packing. We had to get on the train to get to the airport, but Wes thought we wouldn't have enough time, so we called down to the desk and they called a cab for us. It was kind of expensive (55 euros!!), but necessary for us to get there in time. When we were checking out, Wes realized we had woken up at 6:50, instead of 7:50. This whole time, he was thinking we were extremely late. Oh well. So we got to the airport and checked our bags because we didn't want to carry them all over the airport. Got to the gate on time. And then...watched the plane take off without us. The gate agent said that due to "weight restrictions" they were not issuing any seats to standby passengers. Yeah. Time for waiting. (This is when it became not fun...later it will become funny and then just plain frustrating.) We got our bags back and checked out other flights. There was really no chance of us getting out of Munich that day or the rest of the week, the ticket agent told us. (Wes' dad told us later that recently people had been there for over a week trying to get out.) She checked Stuttgart and the results were the same. We looked into Frankfurt. There were three flights a day to the US (Atlanta, JFK, and Cincinnati). We decided to take our chances there. (There were only two flights daily from Munich I think). The first flight available in Frankfurt was at 9:45 the next morning. We got on an ICE (Express) train to Frankfurt. (I feel asleep-it was a 3 hour ride). The cool looking ICE train. They were really fast. The red train are DB "regio" or inner city trains that usually stop at nearly every little stop. The ICE only stops at the major train stations. Burger King Ad in the Frankfurt station. We were both bummed because we were going to miss school on Monday. We were kicking ourselves for not planning our return a little better. Oh well...hindsight right?? Anyway, we get to Frankfurt and find the TI (Tourist Information) in the train station. They recommended a hotel near the station. (The airport was a 15 minute train ride away, with trains heading that way every 20 minutes or so.) We got a room at the Hotel Continental, right across the street from the station. It was really nice. We got a room on the top floor with the biggest balcony. (One weird thing: the neighboring room's bathroom had a window that was on our balcony. You could see right into their bathroom! Kind of odd.) We could see the enormousness of the train station (Frankfurt is obviously one of the biggest cities in Germany) and some great views of larger buildings in the distance.

(The front of the station) This is the first room we had with "air conditioning," a oscillating fan. Oh, by the way, I took a picture of the soap dispenser in our hotel in Munich (but those pictures were lost). It's the same brand as what you see here... It's called "Tricky Ricky." No kidding.

We got to Frankfurt midday, so we decided to make the best of it and explore a little bit. The city was massive. We walked to the city center, not to far from our hotel. It was a bit cheesy and small. Some of the buildings were built in the 80's and made to look historic Bavarian. (They really weren't fooling anyone.) This is the big "Euro" statue outside the "Euro" building(next photo). I guess it's equal to our Federal Reserve.

The Market Square. These are the buildings that were retrofitted in the 80's to look traditional Bavarian.
We walked around the area (Rick Steve's self-guided tour was really short because there wasn't much there.) We walked into St. Bartholomew's Cathedral (Kaiserdom) which was being renovated! In front of the church were some Roman ruins.
I tried to take a picture of it without scaffolding... I think I did a pretty good job.
The ruins of the Roman Baths

Another church nearby.

(My last clean shirt!)

We got McDonald's (yes! McDonald's and Burger King were in every Big city train station, along with the occasional Starbucks) for dinner because it was easy (Chicken nuggets were more rubbery than usual BTW).
Here's the lot of Taxi's (all BMW's) in front of the station.

Our hotel from the train station. Our room is the very top floor, on the right. The area without a covering is our balcony.

We took our food back to our room to relax. We couldn't relax to well, because again the sun set and heated our room up nice and toasty! We had to run the cold water again... Luckily, this hotel had small oscillating desktop fans in the rooms, which helped. We ate our McD's and took cold showers. As the sun set, the colors of the sky were beautiful. We took several pictures of the city lights. We had a clear view of a small rain storm coming across the area....

It moved in in a matter of minutes and started raining pretty steadily. (It helped cool our room off too.) We watched some BBC and CNN international before hitting the sack (Duvets again...) Most hotels we stayed in had TV's in the room (The one in St. Goar didn't. Our Rothenburg room had a TV, but no International or American channels.)

(Pictures from the next morning.)

We were intrigued by this building. It looked like half of it disappeared.

Monday 8-17
Day Two: Got up, got to the airport... At 9:45, we watched the plane take off... Actually, Wes was issued a seat assignment, but the gate agent said that there was no chance for me to get a seat, so he gave it up. (Wasn't that nice of him!) :) The next chance was the 11:30 flight to JFK. We sat near the window and read our books (I had a reader's digest, Wes had a book he's been trying to finish for a long time). Then the gate agent announced, "If your travel plans are flexible, we have an offer we would like you to consider. This flight is currently overbooked. If you can delay your travel plans, we would like to offer you ...." (We ended up hearing this several times over the course of these last days) If they were trying to get paying customers to give up their seats, then there was absolutely no chance for any standby's to get on. No luck! We watched the plane take off again..... (Day 2 picture-still smiling) We wandered around the airport some. The Duty-Free shop had free samples of Toblerone, Hariboo gummies, and some other chocolate things that tasted like M&Ms. I noticed the irony of this cigarette displays....

By this point we have seen several other standby's more than once and began chatting with them. We began to give them names. "Friendly lady" from Atlanta whose husband was hunting and would join her the next day; Asian lady(who was a higher priority than Wes); large curly haired woman; a black couple; A family of four heading home to California; young HS graduate guy in a shirt & tie; etc. We would come to learn their situations (and their priority levels) throughout the coming days. Friendly lady tells us that we can get the Delta rate at a nice hotel near the airport by going to the Delta Ticket Counter. (The Delta rate is the rate the airline has negotiated for their crew and/or stranded passengers. We had to pay for it of course.) It was a 4 star hotel with an excellent pool area. The hotel was called the NH Rhein Main in a small area called Rheinheim. We knew the minute we walked in that we were paying MUCH less than we the standard room rate. We probably would not have chose it if we were paying the standard price. This is the only hotel we had with a bathtub. We didn't use it though. We did use the pool...

It took us a while to figure out what this meant. I'm still not quite sure. I think they just offered a little more than little shampoo and shower gel bottles. (We weren't in this section).
We went in search of some food (and maybe some new underwear). Unfortunately, we were in a hotel village and there weren't many choices. We walked and walked and walked down the main road from the hotel through a little town. (I used google pedometer to determine it was exactly 1.3 miles!) After a while, we decided to turn around and just get food from the small bakery near the hotel. We ended up walking to the next intersection. Low and behold, there it was! A McDonalds!!! AND a Supermarket! (I was wearing flipflops because I didn't think we'd be walking that much. My feet were killing me!) We ate at the McDonald's and then walked around the store (It was similar to a super Walmart, but much smaller). (I later researched the name and found out that a German company purchased all of Walmarts stores inGermany. I believe this is one of them. The store's name was Real. It's considered a Hypermarket, the same catagory Walmart falls in.) While we were eating (the McD's was inside the store), we noticed that no one checking out left with bags. A lot of people were coming in with cloth bags. They had plastic bags you had to pay for.
We took our time in the store (we had all day-it was just 2pm or so). we got some sandwich meat and cheese, some really good "pretzel" bread, a few drinks and some weird stuff for dad. We found the "amerika" section. It was much like the Italian or Asian section you see here. It had Mac & Cheese, Hershey's syrup, Brownie mix and BBQ Sauce. The prices were much cheaper than we had been paying in the city (McDonalds was much cheaper.) We would pay 2.50 (euros) or more for a drink. They were .89 or 1.29 in the store.

We also got some new underwear (I had only one pair left and Wes had none. We anticipated needing several more...) We walked back to the hotel and headed for the pool. It was GREAT! Just what we needed to relax. We were both getting cranky, tired and stressed. The pool was just what we needed. We talked about our situation. Missing school. I would be missing work the next day. (When we got back to the room, I called the station...) We were hopeful that we would get out the next day. At this time, we were just planning day to day, while in the back of our minds, we knew our chances were small. I kept thinking, at least we're still laughing about it.

Anyway, the pool was great! There was a sauna and steam room. The pool had these jets around the side. One was really big. I think it was used for long distance swimming. We got in the steam room. It was awesome! While we were in there, two naked guys came out of the sauna. Unfortunately, the door was glass and had not fogged up completely yet... I had the priviledge of seeing them... yeah.
Showers were at the end of the hall(center), the steam room and dry sauna on either side. There was also a fitness center, women/men locker rooms and tanning bed.

After the pool, we went back to the room, took showers, and had our "picnic" dinner.

Off to bed, then back to the airport in the morning to try again.....

No comments: