My current adventure is taking me to Thailand via Frankfurt and Hong Kong. With a 7 hour layover in Frankfurt, Germany, I planned to take the train (Bahn) into the city for lunch. My neighbor en route, a German, convinced me to scrap my plans and take the train in the other direction to Mainz. Mainz was a Roman port city on the Rhine and is lovely.
To get to the train in the airport, ignore some of the TripAdvisor posts that tell you it will take an hour from gate to train and yet another hour to town. I arrived at 10am and was in Mainz sipping on a coffee at 11 (after having gotten turned around a few times). Just follow the signs for the Bahn train after clearing customs.
When I arrived at the station and walked up to buy tickets there was an attendant helping pitiful Americans. I always try to blend in when I travel and not come off as an obvious or obnoxious American. The attendant didn’t glance twice at me as I confidently strolled up to the kiosk. With not a lick of German in my vocabulary I managed to select what I was pretty sure the right ticket….but I wasn’t certain so begrudgingly, I asked for help. She chuckled and said, “You look so German, I didn’t even talk to you!” That made my day and started my trip out on the right foot!
Off to Mainz I went, without a proper coat. I knew that would be problematic, so I layered up but intentionally didn’t bring a coat that I would have to lug around SE Asia for two weeks. The train was heated and the scenery itself was worth the ride. Along the way, despite snow on the ground and heavy fog, there were lovely forests, vineyards, gingerbread looking houses, and a crossing of the Rhine River, as well as some factories and ramshackles. If you have a long layover, get on the train just for the ride!
Arriving in Mainz, it didn’t take long to become a Yankee Popscicle. I didn’t have good shoes, gloves, a scarf, or anything. I managed to make it to a coffee/pastry shop. I took refuge with a steaming cup of joe and a pastry that was flaky on the outside and creamy custard on the inside with sliced papaya (I think?) and almonds on top. So wonderfully delicious – it was just what I needed after a long flight.
I made an attempt to walk around, sightsee, and find a spot for lunch, but soon cried uncle and gave up. It was simply too cold (less than 0 degrees Celcius). I reluctantly went back to the train station. En route back to the airport I met the most interesting guy, though. A student at a nearby university, he studies chemistry and environmental science. I explained I have a degree in chemistry and we tried to chat, him with a little English, me with a little French, and lots of hand signals. From Morocco, his family saved for many years to send him to school here. It was a reminder I shouldn’t take for granted the things that we don’t think twice about. Anyways, I asked about the area vineyards and if he, as a Muslim, drank wine. He laughed and said of course! Then I asked if he ate pork – but I had no word for pork or pig, so I had to resort to saying ‘oink oink.’ His amusing response was to tell me how terrible ‘metal’ was…seeing my confusion, he drew out several complicated chemical reactions trying to indicate what happens in the stomach. Eventually I just pretended I got it and moved onto another subject. In retrospect I realize he was saying methane, not metal and must have been referring to what we animals produce out our arses! He doesn’t eat meat because it is environmentally harmful, quite progressive, right?
Anyways, back at the airport, I’m sipping Champagne and waiting for my next adventure to Hong Kong. My first stop may not have been a wild success, but was fun none-the-less. Nothing ventured, nothing gained!
And, no, my darlings, I did not venture into cougardom again…though that would have made a good story. Is there an equivalent word for ‘mile high club’ that is used for trains????