Main(hatten) Transfer

The country of precision engineering, verbally-direct people, curry wurst and David Hasselhoff lovin’ came into view from the small oval of a plane window after an interminably long flight that lasted a good 18+ hours. Frankfurt am Main greeted the Travel Companion (TC) and I like a terribly familiar bedfellow (read: a sprawling city) – but the sight of terra firma is always a welcome feel despite its incredible urbanity for those who have been in limbo for too long. The International Airport is a surprisingly short 15 minute ride by S8 or S9 into the main train station and from there, a mere short walk to the Star Inn Frankfurt.

Off we went on a jaunt to the cavernous space of the Schirn Kunsthalle – built like a retrofitted old cinema and conveniently located where the Christmas Market was which is probably why TC was a willing participant – to see Gabríela Friðriksdóttir’s Crepusculum and Edward Kienholz’s The Signs of the Times, all of which I thought were breathtaking installations that we’ve been so lacking thus far.



In the land of meat and potatoes, the temptations of the Christmas Market went so far as a large Bratwurst and a white Gluhwein before we decided more pressing needs (Knoppers, Teekanne teas and fruit) had to be met in the forms of a Drugstore and a Supermarket along the Zeil, Frankfurt’s swanky shopping street.

Jet-lagged and disoriented, I awoke hungry and thirsty at 5.30am and realised that was that for the Frankfurt stopover. A quick breakfast at the cosy Kamps Backstufe next to the Frankfurt Hbf blissfully watching the rush-hour commuters was the only early morning activity that I could stomach before sleepily moving on to the airport.

In a few hours, we’d be on the damned plane again – this time to the far north – and I can’t wait, despite the glum weather reports.

Exhausting defiance

My travel planning process typically runs across 2 veins: juggling foreign, captivating landscapes from which the instinctive need to explore arises (the heady rush is really quite intoxicating) and the harsh reality of cost-cutting after realising that the reckless planning is potentially busting the humble budget. It’s a common sensibility that probably fits me squarely […]

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Down the Red-Brick Road

Brugge without the sandy footpaths, Brugge with the cold and volatile weather – that was Lübeck at first glance. Günter Grass, many turquoise church steeples, the Hanseatic League, extraordinary architecture, Thomas Mann, and…marzipan – if I could only sum up Lübeck with several key words. A Schleswig-Holstein Ticket took the 3 of us to Lübeck during […]

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Whizzing About

The architecture found in this place is enthralling, and the mood of the city changes according to the volatile weather. There are places in Hamburg pretty enough to visit multiple times – Blankenese, Altona, St. Georg and the Schanzenviertel being some of them – of which I have done a fair bit by harassing store-keepers […]

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A Slow Reacquaintance

A confession: I have mixed feelings about the first week of the course. Some participants appear to be caricatures. The Spaniard Jose M. (or rather Catalan – as he hails from Barcelona) in my class breathes alarmingly heavily, and looks like an emaciated, unkempt, unshaven, skinny and wavy-haired version of Cesc Fabregas. He speaks in […]

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Hamburg for Beginners

The 5-hour long journey to suburban Hamburg (Othmarschen) proved painful in the heat that seemed to follow me from Heidelberg, but was repaid in full by the hospitality of my host – HD, a divorced architect with an easy-going personality, 2 sons and a fat grey-brown cat (named Mollo), with a penchant for everything organic, […]

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Peace with a Price

A half-hour bus journey took us to Neckargemünd where P’s car was parked in order to escape Heidelberg’s exorbitant parking rates. A quick drive around the region brought us to the hilltop town of Dilsberg, where unfairly spectacular views of the hills could be found in one’s backyard. Originally a roman settlement, and now a […]

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The Exasperating City

An attempt to wash clothes and hang them out to dry on the balcony was interrupted by P’s neighbour, an aged couple whose constant quarrels mirror the melodramatic Korean dramas. The shifty-eyed man spoke in a choked manner, accused me of eating pizza the night before, lectured me about the necessity of owning beautiful plants […]

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The Fly-ing Welcome

The toilet-sized flies are annoying, particularly in summer. They flit in and out, announcing their arrival with loud, stereophonic buzzes. The smaller ones are green, with spindly legs, seem to have a penchant for landing in my drink. I go berserk the moment they land on my skin. A flying welcome to Heidelberg. I landed in […]

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