Apr 292013

A hybrid bus in Frankfurt, Germany

Grasping for details, wishing for another week, uncertainty if we used our time the most effectively, I’m not ready to leave Germany. Faced with tomorrow’s reality of boarding a British Air flight to London before our non-stop to Phoenix, Arizona, I am looking for those things I somehow overlooked. I know this is an act of futility, but I cannot help but fall into nostalgia for the past month and so I wish to live it all over again. Instead of taking the train we would normally travel on our way to Jutta’s apartment, we opt for a bus that will take us on different route, maybe I’ll see something I missed. In fact it works, the bus we have boarded is a hybrid with a display showing us what is powering the bus and what is being charged or powered during braking. Damn, this now has me wanting more time to explore the roads yet untraveled.

Caroline Wise and the french fry guy on Bergerstrasse in Frankfurt, Germany

Would you like fries with your hotdog? Just after arriving in Germany and one of my first blog entries recounting those days, I shot a photo of two Frankfurters, I think the designer of that wiener had a hand in producing the French fry guy.

A brie, lingonberry, cucumber sandwich on a full grain heavy dark roll from Kamp Bakery in Frankfurt, Germany

More than a few times Caroline and I have stopped at Kamp Bakery on Bergerstrasse for one of these brie, lingonberry, cucumber sandwiches on a full-grain, oat, and raisin roll that has us wanting to bring a couple dozen of back to America. This is the perfect breakfast sandwich, well a close second to pork belly sandwiches anyway.

An Erdbeer Plunder (strawberry danish) from Kamp Bakery in Frankfurt, Germany

Here in ‘our world’ breakfast required dessert and Kamp delivers again. This seemingly average pastry is not as simple as it looks. This yummy treat is an erdbeer plunder (pronounced Airt-bear ploonder – strawberry danish for us English speakers) and is one of Caroline’s favorites. Although the strawberry cream puff we shared in Fulda was in a league of its own.

Caroline Wise and Biggy the Chameleon - a local Frankfurt resident

From breakfast and a last visit to Jutta’s apartment it was time for a final visit to Jutta in rehab. Only two hours we’ll get to spend with my mother in-law, we have a date at 1:00 with an old friend of Caroline, anyway two-hours should be enough to say bye. Of course there’s never enough time between family and friends when goodbyes are so long between hello’s, but we have a busy day and we know that we cannot relive the thousands of moments we have already shared during the previous four weeks. We had brought my computer with us to share some of the photos I’d taken and then it was hug time. Followed by more hugs and the deepest gratitude from Jutta that we’d come over here to cheer her up during her recovery. With more hugs and waves goodbye, Caroline and I were again underway, this time to go visit Biggy The Chameleon and her caretaker.

Angela Pyka and Caroline Wise reminiscing about bananas in Frankfurt, Germany

Meet Angela (pronounced Angeela – not Anjeela) Pyka, she’s the caretaker extraordinaire of the amazing Biggy; and good friend of Caroline’s. With more than 18 years between the two meeting, the chemistry still runs strong between these two. If you should want to know why they are posing with bananas, I suggest you think long and hard about what two young women over 25 years ago might have been talking about that required bananas. With only two and a half hours to catch up on the conversation, the women talk fast. Angela has finally met the love of her life (besides Biggy) his name is Ruben. He is a hot and zesty Spanish man who not only cooks using utensils from heaven, he has fully melted his heart into Angela’s. We look forward to meeting him on a future visit to the States, that’s if Angela can pull herself away from visiting him every chance she gets. No time is ever enough when old friends find themselves to still be friends. As quickly as the three of us hit it off, we were needing to move down the road. With big hugs and wishes to see one another again, we tried and tried to leave, and then out the door we were called back one last time. Angela presented Caroline with a mini-Biggy; in toy form. Downstairs our goodbyes were still not over. Out of her window Angela waved goodbye for the next two minutes until we turned the corner on our way to the train. For all I know she may still be waving out the window, tears rolling down her cheeks, and…..nah, I’m sure she went back in her flat and started showering more love on Biggy The Chameleon.

Stolpersteine (stumbling stones) that are supposed to make you stop, read, and think about what is marked on them. In Frankfurt, Germany

Looking for details, found some more. These are stolpesteine (stumbling stones) they are supposed to stop you as you “stumble” over them. After grabbing your attention you are supposed to read the stones and give thought to what has been shared. In this case the stolpesteine are at the Judengasse area (old Jewish quarter) and make note of people who came to an untimely end during World War II. It appears that the entire Zuntz family were murdered, four of them at Auschwitz.

A Bembel (apple wine jug) shop in Frankfurt, Germany

Our walk from Konstablerwache through the former Jewish quarter was intended to take us to a nearby bembel shop. Bembel’s are the traditional Frankfurt apple wine jugs. My mother at the last minute, meaning last night at midnight our time, asked if we could bring her a small flower pot. We had just finished packing so I told her “Of course not, we can’t bring you a bembel pot at the last minute, our bags are full.” But she is my mom, so we go anyway and decide we’ll just bring another bag with us and fill it with other stuff we were going to leave behind.

A marker used for decoration in the Dom subway station in Frankfurt, Germany

And the little details keep coming on. This one is embedded in the U-Bahn (subway) floor; a medallion between squares to give the floor a unique look. Each of the markers are different and all of them interesting.

The U5 subway train in Frankfurt, Germany

One more ride on the U5 richtung Preungesheim (direction Preungesheim). This was our old train that we’d take two stops from Konstablerwache to Glauburgstrasse nearly everyday when we lived here. We are on it this afternoon for a last visit to another favorite place that has already showed up a couple of other times here on my blog this month.

Eis Christina in Frankfurt, Germany

Eis Christina. I just had to have another Spaghetti Eis (spaghetti ice cream); you’ll have to read a previous entry for details on what spaghetti ice cream is. We split a Maxi portion, what else? The day turned sunny after a cold damp start and so half of Frankfurt showed up at this popular ice cream shop. Back in the 90’s this place was a tiny shop a couple of doors up the street. After winning a couple of “Best of Frankfurt” awards, they needed to move to a much larger shop. Even with all of the extra seating (there used to be about none) they still have every chair filled with dozen more people milling about eating their ice creams.

Katharina Engelhardt, Caroline Wise, Klaus and Stephanie Engelhardt enjoying dinner at home in Frankfurt, Germany

Klaus spent a good part of the day making dinner for us, a great departing treat for Caroline and I. Actually the preparation started last night when he made the Bolognese sauce for the lasagna he would serve us tonight. When we got home from our day in the city, the house smelled delicious, it did last night too. After nearly an hour wait dinner was ready. The five of us collected around the table, Klaus served up his masterpiece and then there was nothing left to do but enjoy his super-lecke (yummy) dinner. None of us can believe that it’s already been nearly a month since we flew in to the Frankfurt Airport just five days after Jutta’s fall. While the girls continue their conversation, I headed upstairs to start working on this blog entry before trying to get us to sleep at a reasonable time for our early departure back to the airport.

A rare sunset in Frankfurt, Germany

It’s already 9:00 pm when this sunset unfolds. In Frankfurt, sunsets are a rarity as in the inner-city one is surrounded by building in all directions. Up on Stephanie and Klaus’s third floor, I have a perfect view into the distance (over roofs of course) to be witness to this nearly perfect sunset and the end of our time in Germany; for now.

Apr 282013

Ausfahrt Frei Halten! Do Not Block The Driveway - Frankfurt, Germany

This is how I feel today, Ausfahrt frie halten! Do not block the driveway! We are about to pull out of having parked ourselves in Frankfurt and don’t need to have anyone blocking our way, yes we do.

A sign pointing out a few details regarding the old city wall in Frankfurt, Germany

This small sign is attached to a large wall, actually a small segment of what remains of the Staufermauer – old city wall. Built around 1180, the sign notes that this section was rebuilt in 1711 after the adjoining Jewish ghetto burned down.

Sketch of the old Jewish ghetto in Frankfurt, Germany

We were on our way to the former location of the Jewish ghetto and a museum that has been dedicated to this part of Frankfurt’s history. This sketch by Peter Becker from 1872 titled “Hinterhäuser in der Judengasse” is part of the depiction and uncovered ruins that had been the small corner of Frankfurt where Jews were segregated over the centuries.

Basement and foundation walls uncovered in the old Jewish quarter in Frankfurt, Germany

During excavation for a new building the foundation walls and basements of the old Jewish ghetto were uncovered. It was originally the plan to simply build over them, but protests helped create the situation that the city and builder agreed to build a museum as a memorial to the dark history of Jewish isolationism that occurred not only in this city, but cities across Germany. Many of those people who walked the narrow streets and alleys in this compact unsanitary ghetto were murdered during World War II.

Model showing the relative compactness the Jewish ghetto was forced to occupy in Frankfurt, Germany

This model in the Judengasse Museum depicts the cramped quarters Jews were forced to live in. Not only were they living with overcrowding due to the tiny area, they had little access to clean water and were often victims of crime and exploitation. In the 1860’s there was a lifting of the ban that prohibited their travel, many Jews tried leaving to what was thought were better lives in other cities, but that would all be crushed 70 years later with the onset of war.

Artifacts from the old Jewish ghetto on display at the Judengasse Museum in Frankfurt, Germany

There are a number of artifacts on display that were excavated during the archeological dig that ensued following the decision to protect the ruins of Judengasse. Another display features a few remaining parts of the old synagogue that was destroyed. It starts to become depressing here seeing items that had been handled by people who may have been marched out of their homes and deported only to be murdered at the hands of people filled with rage and politically motivated hatred.

A Mikwe (ritual bath) among the ruins of Judengasse in Frankfurt, Germany

There a couple of Mikwe (ritual baths) that were uncovered and are now viewable as part of the museum. Sadness accumulates while looking in and walking upon the stone passages that had once been used by people who unceremoniously were taken away and their memories buried along with their tortured souls. I need to get out of here.

Marker showing one of the people who had been buried in the Jewish cemetery prior to its destruction during World War II

Next to Judengasse is what remains of the Jewish Cemetery. During World War II it was destroyed but following the war it was partially restored and set as a memorial to honor those who died here. While walking along the wall I came upon this marker noting that Dora Kirchhoff once a resident of Judengasse died during the war. Kirchhoff is a variation of the spelling of my maternal family name. One other interesting factoid I learned while here, the houses in which Jews lived had symbols on the outside of their homes, this often led to what they would take as their last names. The house with a red shield on it (Rote Schild) became Rothschild – yes that Rothschild.

Caroline Wise at McDonalds at an automated ordering station in Frankfurt, Germany

The good old Hamburger Royal with Käse – quarter pounder with cheese can be ordered in Frankfurt on these automated kiosks to save you time of standing in line. Of course we ate at McDonald’s in Germany, it’s the Hamburger Royal after-all.

Katharina Engelhardt, Caroline Wise, Jutta Engelhardt, Stephanie and Klaus Engelhardt, and John Wise in Frankfurt, Germany

With less than 24 hours to go we finally get a group picture, even if it’s a little cramped. From left to right; Katharina Engelhardt, Caroline Wise, Jutta Engelhardt, Stephanie and Klaus Engelhardt, and John Wise. Had we had another set of hands in the garden that could have snapped our photo I would hopefully not loom so large over on the right side, but these self/group photos are a difficult task.

Schwanheim train station just outside of Frankfurt in Germany

From visiting Jutta we continued on the 12 train line out to Schwanheim for a visit to one of Christian Engelhardt’s favorite restaurants. He was Caroline’s paternal grandfather and I needed to know what an old German guy thought was great food, as I have come to know that this man loved food, something he and I have in common.

Grüne Sosse from Frankfurter Hod Seppche in Schwanheim, Germany

The place of our pilgrimage is called Frankfurter Hof Seppche. Staying with the theme of trying Frankfurt specialties, we start the meal with händkase and Caroline opts for another apple wine. I ordered the giant plate of meat with roasted potatoes and mushrooms; and loved it. The grüne sosse just seems like the perfect meal for Caroline and she orders a last time during this visit to her home country.

The sign outside of Frankfurter Hof Seppche with a Bembel as part of it. In Schwanheim, Germany

Leaving Seppche we take notice of their great sign, a Bembel surrounded by a wreath. Back when I lived in Germany I thought Germany food was boring. Nothing but boiled flavorless foods, oh how I was wrong. I suppose I should reevaluate a lot of my perceptions and prejudices I entertained back in my 20’s and early 30’s, but today right here right now is not the time as I race the clock to finish yet one more blog entry.

On streetcar number 12 back to Frankfurt

Back on streetcar number 12 for our return to Frankfurt. How long before our next visit? I hope it’s not another 18 years.

Apr 272013

An old variation of the strawberry available in Germany

Seventy-two hours to go before we depart on our return to America. Time is short. What hasn’t been done by now; won’t. That isn’t to say there is nothing to do. We won’t sit still twiddling our fingers. Matter of fact we would have headed north tomorrow to Köln (Cologne) and then over to Venlo, Holland, but a cold rain has set in over central Europe so we’ll hang out and keep Jutta company. During the early day today though we have some chores. First up was buying a guitar case for a guitar owned by Caroline’s grandfather. Having the car today instead of taking the train creates huge delays, as finding parking is never easy if there isn’t a nearby parking garage. By the time we get to Bergerstrasse we’re both super hungry. On the way to pick up a sandwich through the Saturday open-air market, I spotted this strange looking berries that I wasn’t sure if they raspberries or strawberries. Turns out they are an old fashioned type of strawberry not cultivated for mass consumption anymore. Maybe they’ll make a comeback with their incredible flavor which is not 100% strawberry. But they are expensive at $6.00 for two small handfuls of the super sweet unique tasting berries.

Pork belly in Frankfurt, Germany

Weeks ago I wrote of my being enamored with pork-belly sandwiches, with only a couple more opportunities to delight in them, this was my choice for breakfast today. During this time I’ve nearly become friends with one of the ladies that works here at Erich Zeiss Metzgarai (butcher). While I fetch my meal, Caroline was back over Bäckerei Kamp (bakery) getting a full grain dark break sandwich with brie, cucumber, lettuce, and lingonberries; also a favorite of ours. She also picked up a couple of slices of a strawberry cake that we were taking to share with Jutta.

Map of the Frankfurt area train system

Having found a great parking spot, we were loath to leave it. Instead we dipped into the U-Bahn tunnel to catch a train. We were also testing the idea that instead of taking streetcar #12 all the way to south-west Frankfurt, maybe it was quicker to take the subway part of the way and then pick up the streetcar. The verdict is out as it felt about the same, nor do we have any empirical proof that could sway the jury.

Caroline Wise and Jutta Engelhardt in Frankfurt, Germany

Jutta’s certainly feeling much better, her first question for us upon our arrival was asking if we’d like to take a walk outside. She hadn’t realized that the temperature had dropped into cold and that it was currently raining. Instead we walked over to the dining room of the rehab center, grabbed a pot of coffee and some forks as we sat down to chat over some yummy strawberry cake.

Jutta Engelhardt and John Wise in Frankfurt, Germany

For the next hours we bounced around the conversation and shared details of yesterday’s trip to Strasbourg, France while Jutta recalled her visits. While she’s been so very happy to see, she’s also encouraged us to get out and see a few things, we obliged her with those trips to Wattenmear, Denmark, Lübeck, Magdeburg, Lünaburg, Dresden, Eisenach, Bautzen, Görlitz, Poland, and Prague. Before we know it time has flown out the window and we have to get moving to finish the remaining chores. We bid Jutta adieu and walk back to the train stop; without the duffel-bag we intended to pick up, though we didn’t realize that until just before arriving back at Jutta’s apartment. Part of our intentions today were to test pack, without that bag we’ll have to postpone. So it goes.

Grüne Sosse from Lahme Esel restaurant in Frankfurt, Germany

After packing up what we could at Jutta’s into plastic bags and putting the guitar in its new case, it was after 6:00 and we were getting hungry. Thought about stopping on the way back to Stephanie and Klaus’s but decided on one last return to the Lahme Esel restaurant. Good thing we didn’t go directly there because after asking the Engelhardt’s if they’d like to join us, a call was made for table availability where we found out that there was nothing until 9:00. Okay then, a late dinner it is. Caroline opted for the Grüne Sosse and I took the meat fantasy plate. My dinner was the Bäcker-Schaufel or Bakers Shovel, and a shovel of food it was. Two pieces of pork steak, rump steak, hamburger steak, sausages, bacon, fried potatoes, mushrooms, and a salad. I have to say it again, twenty years ago I thought traditional German food was kind of boring, but when this trip ends I’ll be doing my fair share of missing this style of cooking as my opinion has changed greatly. Oh how I love German food.

Apr 252013

Holzhausenstrasse U-Bahn (subway) entrance and exit in Frankfurt, Germany

First things first, my blog is not necessarily one for public consumption. As the name was originally intended a blog is a Web + Log and a log is a written record of events. This day’s entry is heavy on photos and light on content, it is more a visual record of filling in gaps that will allow Caroline and I to bring more of Frankfurt home with us. With only five days remaining on our visit to Germany panic starts to set in as we wonder if we’ve seen it all. Up early and off into the city we got on the U-Bahn exiting at Holzhausen Strasse.

Caroline Wise (formerly Engelhardt) at Lessing Gymnasium in Frankfurt, Germany

We stopped here first because this was Caroline’s neighborhood while she was growing up. Unlike schools in America there isn’t fear “yet” for the lives of children from predators that make them vulnerable while trying to attain an education. We walked right onto campus where my wife attended gymnasium, the American equivalent of high school. Not only did we stroll the school grounds, we even went into one of the buildings where Caroline went to classes. I have to admit that this felt alien, that any moment someone would challenge us asking what we were doing here. That didn’t happen even though administrators and students alike took notice of us more than a few times. Feels nice being in a civil society where people are still treated like mature responsible adults. Like I said in the previous paragraph, this is my web log, my place for social commentary should I decide to share it.

Looking up Hansa Allee in Frankfurt, Germany

Down the street to another corner that had big importance to a young Caroline’s life; Reuterweg and Hansa Allee. At this intersection is a building of some historic importance.

The former IG Farben / Abrams Complex buildings now the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany

At one time this was the IG Farben Research Headquarters that was responsible for Zyklon B, the gas used for killing people in concentration camps during World War II. After the war it became the central headquarters for the Supreme Allied Command and was ultimately renamed the Abrams Complex. Following the end of the cold war and the winding down of the U.S. presence in central Europe, this valuable corner of land was turned over to the state. Today it is the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University. The lands around the building acted as a shortcut for kids passing through the area back when Caroline went to school up the road, but she’d never been in the building.

The lobby of Johann Wolfgang University in Frankfurt, Germany. Formerly the IG Farben / Abrams Complex buildings

Today we both get to visit this place. I first visited almost 30 years ago while I was still in the military. Back then there was a helicopter landing site on the grounds and lots of armed soldiers. General Colin Powell was in charge here. Across the street was the Frankfurt PX, or post exchange, effectively the Army’s version of Target or Kmart. Those buildings where I could take Caroline to the fast food places that were part of the PX area are now all gone, replaced by the central headquarters of the Frankfurt police. From the sordid past of IG Farben to today’s function as being an institute of higher learning, there couldn’t have been a better re-purposing of this historic set of buildings.

Caroline Wise entering a "paternoster" style elevator at Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany. Formerly the IG Farben / Abrams Complex

One of the unique features of this building is the usage of “paternoster” elevators. Holding only one person at a time this constantly moving elevator is a bit peculiar to use the first time. We rode them up and down more than a few times during our visit.

Walking towards Holzhausen Park in Frankfurt, Germany

Around the corner we turned right and right again to walk the park like area along Eysseneckstrasse on the way to Holzhausen Park. At one time according to an old painting, this area was far out of town. The painting depicts the Holzhausen residence as being away in the country-side, today it is nearly in the middle of Frankfurt. On the day we visited the Städel Art Museum we were introduced to the Holzhausen family. Many of the streets around this park are named after their family members.

A kiosk in Frankfurt, Germany

Just before entering the park is this old kiosk Caroline used to shop at. Today was no different from back then, she stopped for a Caretta; an orange flavored Popsicle.

Musikalien Petroll in Frankfurt, Germany - a great place for sheet music.

On Oederweg we had a mission to find a sheet music store, Musikalien Petroll (pronounced; moosic-kallee-in). Caroline is looking for old European folk music, stuff from the middle-ages. She’s looking forward to hammering out the tunes on her ukelele when we get home; next week.

The former Volksbildungsheim in Frankfurt, Germany

This corner building used to be known as the Volksbildungsheim; a concert hall. Today it is a movie theater. Back in January 1989 I was attending a concert when a young German woman introduced herself as an acquaintance of Michael Mayer, a mutual friend. He had told her to say hi as he knew she spoke English and also had an interest in photography and possibly video. I was filming the bands that were playing at “Vobi” that night. She said her name was Caroline. We talked briefly until Michael returned and then parted ways. Over the ensuing months we would run into one another at various concerts throughout Frankfurt. It wasn’t until one night in June at the Batschkapp (another concert hall) following a show by The Pixies that we ever really talked. Sitting on the steps to the overpass of the train, we talked so long that Caroline needed a ride home. The rest as they say; is history.

Hauptwache Cafe in Frankfurt, Germany

Time for breakfast, we’ve been busy with these other things, so maybe I should call it lunch. At 1:00 we finally take pause; here at Hauptwache Cafe. This was the first place I ever ate real German apple strudel and the memory of it has always stayed with me. Caroline on the other hand has no recollection of ever having eaten at this historic location. We shared a bowl of white asparagus soup, a plate of steamed white asparagus with boiled potatoes and hollandaise. For dessert it was of course a portion of apple strudel with vanilla sauce. Yes, it was as good as my memory said it was.

Lady Justice standing vigil at Römer in Frankfurt, Germany

Our next destination is the Frankfurt Dom, we call them cathedrals in the States. On the way we pass through Römer. While I have posted another photo of the Römer (City Hall) it was a gray cold day a few weeks ago, so here are a few new images I shot today that put the area in a better light.

The Römer area of Frankfurt, Germany

The Römer area of Frankfurt, Germany

During the Christmas holidays the Römer plays host to the Weinachtsmarkt, or Christmas Market. I have fond memories of being here on cold nights sipping glühwein (literal translation is “glow wine”) a spiced hot wine that is perfect for the winter season. Next stop Dom.

View from on top of the Dom tower in Frankfurt, Germany

We didn’t approach the Dom from the front entrance, good thing too, as on the back side is a small hut where a woman was selling tickets to ascend the over 300 steps to a platform almost 20 stories above the city for this spectacular view. It’s dizzying in the narrow stairwell, cold too, on the other hand I’d imagine it is stifling hot and humid during the summer. As you can see, we couldn’t have asked for a better day to be up here. We were in awe.

Looking north from atop Frankfurt Dom in Germany

Funny thing is, neither Caroline nor I had ever been up here. I don’t think many others trudge up the 195 feet (65 meters) either. The signage in front of the Dom was non-existent, hence my feelings that it was good that we came around the corner we had. The previous view was looking south-west, this view is looking north. It only cost us €3 each for the climb, I can’t recommend it enough.

Inside Frankfurt Dom (Cathedral) in Frankfurt, Germany

Back down on the ground we took a peak at the inside of the Dom (remember, it’s a Cathedral). Sorry to sound jaded, but after the Dom’s of Prague, Dresden, and Lubeck the Frankfurt Dom pales in comparison. From this point on for the next couple of hours I went one way, Caroline the other.

In front of the Hauptbahnhof (main train station) in Frankfurt, Germany

While she headed towards her mom’s apartment to sort through some things that are coming back to Arizona with us, I went to the red-light district. You read that right, I wanted to visit the whore houses. Way back when while still in the Army, another young soldier, a Puerto Rican guy named Rosario in fact who was my sponsor and who’s job it was to introduce me to the places I needed to know about and classes I had to take such as basic German and customs of our host country, asked if I knew about the legal red-light districts. I did not and so he rectified that as part of my familiarization with the Frankfurt area.

Looking back towards Hauptbahnhof on Kaiserstrasse in Frankfurt, Germany

Now over 25 years since my first walk down Kaiserstrasse and its side streets that lead into debauchery and Catholic guilt, I’m here for a reminder; and nothing else, probably. The area is seedier than it ever was, or I’m more normal than I had been. The men who are part of the subculture, likely part of pimping and other exploitation are now mostly people from other countries. Back in my day there were many German thugs who were a part of the scenery, today it is gangsters who simply appear to be some very bad people from other lands. Most of the houses used for prostitution have closed as the area is slowly gentrifying, what is left are but a half dozen buildings. Years ago most of the women on the ground and first floor (Germany refers to the 1st floor as the ground and the next level up is the 1st as where we call that the 2nd floor in America) were central Europeans. Today the first floors have no central European girls workings there, they are all from Turkey, the middle-east, the Philippines, and Africa. Those European girls could be ultra-babes working tricks, today these women span the age and weight gamut. The worst part of it all is the reminder of the smells; cigarette smoke, incense, sweat, cheap perfume, and stale semen.

Litfaßsäule (Litfass Column used for advertising) in Frankfurt, Germany

Twenty minutes in the red light district was enough, but maybe not for what you might be thinking. I’m heading back to Konstablerwache to catch the train that will take me back to Jutta’s apartment and the wife who is waiting for me; and wondering what I’ve been up to. As I have been doing the entire time we’ve been in Germany, I’m looking for small details that will allow us to revisit the place once we are back in the intransigent desert we call home; for some strange reason or other. Above is a Litfasssäule (Litfass Column named after its inventor, Ernst Litfass).

Katharinenkirche (St. Katharine's Church) in Frankfurt, Germany

Around the corner is Katharinenkirche (St. Katherine’s Church) which is also on Hauptwache adjacent to Hauptwache Cafe that we’d eaten at hours earlier. For 10 years I lived in Frankfurt and not once did I enter this church, today is the day I finally step inside.

Inside Katharinenkirche (St. Katharine's Church) in Frankfurt, Germany

To my surprise the organ is being played as I walk in. Quietly I take a seat and enjoy the music filling the church just as everyone else who is here taking a 30 minute break from the noise and crowds that line Zeil (shopping street) that runs from Hauptwache to Konstablerwache. After a few pieces I need to take off to catch up with Caroline.

An alien portal to another dimension in a parallel universe is situated right on Zeil in Frankfurt, Germany

Along the way, there’s always one of these stories of me being delayed when I’m out wandering around, I spot something else that needs photographing. On the other days we’d been on Zeil it was cold and drab, but with today’s weather this alien portal built into the mall summoned me to take its picture. Stand here long enough and you too might see someone sucked through to be delivered to another dimension in a parallel universe.

Phoenix The Devourer busking out the tunes on Zeil in Frankfurt, Germany

Meet Phoenix The Devourer. This guy hailing from the Bahamas, not Phoenix, Arizona, is busking on Zeil. That’s a carrot and not a very fresh one at that he’s singing into, probably the same one we saw him working a couple of weeks ago when we first saw him near Hauptwache. I threw him a few Euro’s for his friendly efforts, which were directed more towards the cute women who were strolling by, but that’s okay as I wasn’t looking for anyone to hit on me anyway. After dropping the coins he said “Thanks,” so I answered him back in English and told him he was welcome. He must not hear a lot of his mother tongue over here these days and started up a short conversation. We talked about music, busking, and living in Frankfurt. I told him how much I appreciate this aspect of high foot traffic areas in Europe where musicians pick a corner and serenade us with their skills; if they actually have any.

Wine fest and open-air market at Konstablerwache in Frankfurt, Germany

Need something to do on a beautiful sunny afternoon, especially on Friday? Try one of the many wine fests. This small affair was occurring at Konstablerwache in the midst of the open-air market. Slipping through the crowds wasn’t easy, but finding great cheese, fruit, and hot food was. And I thought Frankfurt was kind of boring when I lived here 18 years ago.

Event advertising in the subway in Frankfurt, Germany

Underground in the subway stations are these boards reserved for event advertising. From urban gardening and plays to music and talks the posters bring our attention to the wealth of amazing events that are happening year round in Frankfurt. So why are we living in Phoenix again?

The Bornheim Mitte subway station in Frankfurt, Germany

This is the subway station at Bornheim Mitte. Each of the stations are different, this one has obviously not been renovated in many years, but others have changed dramatically since we last passed through them. By now I’m just around the corner from buzzing Jutta’s door for Caroline to let me in.

Streetcar number 12 passing by the blood donor service in Frankfurt, Germany

Since Jutta left the hospital we’ve been visiting her just across the street from where she worked at Blutspendedienst (blood donor service) for more than 20 years. Streetcar number 12 is the train we’ve been taking to get to this stop at Heinrich-Hoffmanstrasse. Jutta is still in rehabilitation, but looks to be going home on the same day we are going home. For the next two hours we hang out before hunger pangs tell us to go eat.

Gyros with Turkish Pizza from Markez Restaurant in Frankfurt, Germany

Dinner was near the Bahnhof at Markez Kebab House. On other days when we’d be walking by this corner restaurant, it was the one place that was packed at lunch time, so tonight it was our turn to find out what made it so popular. The crowds are well deserved. We shared two plates, one with döner (gyros) and Turkish pizza while the other plate called Markez Döner was a combo of another type of kebab served with rice and fries. Both dishes were great and left us wondering why real Turkish food is so absent in America.

The theater at Willy-Brandt Platz where we catch the U-Bahn home in Frankfurt, Germany

With the day nearly over it was time to board the U-Bahn for a ride back out to the Engelhardt’s. From the main train station it is just a few minute walk to Willy-Brandt Platz (formerly Theater Platz) where we go underground to get our short subway ride out towards Heddenheim.

Apr 242013

Outside the city walls of Rothenberg, Germany

The result of getting out of Prague late was that we couldn’t make it all the way back to Frankfurt and so we decided to take advantage of our position and visit the old walled city of Rothenburg, Germany. Many more photos and a story will accompany this blog entry soon. Work in progress….