Ironically I had finally mastered sleeping until 7 AM again and then I had to get up at 5 to go to the airport. Damn it all. My breakfast consisted of a piece of toast and brown sauce. Mmm, brown sauce. Everything on the trip to Gatwick was going smoothly until we approached the M25/M26 merge. At that point it was stop and go for about 30 minutes. I started getting a bit nervous about making my flight. I shouldn't have been. We pulled up to Gatwick 90 minutes before departure. My bag came in underweight (well, I think it actually came in overweight but they just didn't say anything) and it took only 8 minutes from the time I left the car to check in, clear security and immigration and make it to the lounge. I <3 Gatwick.
With that much time to kill I decided to try out one of the lounges that Priority Pass (courtesy of the AmEx Platinum, which is certainly earning its keep on this trip) gave me access to. I had two choices: Serviceair and Lounge No. 1. Based solely on the description on the Priority Pass app, I went with No. 1. Nice enough lounge with a good breakfast. Photos:
|I didn't notice this at the time, but what the heck are the Gatwick Good Boys? I don't want to know, do I?|
|A healthy-ish breakfast. Except for the lemonade.|
|Not the roomiest of lounges but I'm not complaining much|
|Nice view of the tarmac|
|I would pay quite a lot of money to not have to go to the No. 2 lounge|
Gatwick doesn't post gate assignments until shortly before boarding. I stood in the common area and waited for an assignment. And waited. And waited. Come on LH 897, stop telling me to wait. They finally posted a gate assignment at the same time that we were scheduled to board. Like a herd we made our way over.
|Gah! Post my damn gate information already! Also, who the heck are half these airlines?|
I'd love to show you a picture of the plane, but there was no plane at the gate. Whoops! Shortly after the plane did arrive and boarding proceeded swiftly and smoothly. The flight was absolutely empty. The extremely friendly FA (have I mentioned that I love Lufthansa?) encouraged us all to take our own row. Don't mind if I do!
|I'd stop posting these but then I'd lose the sizable portion of my audience that marketers refer to as "the unrepentant perverts and other assorted ilk".|
|I've been reduced to reading the Daily Mail. Oh the horror. ;)|
|Lescott has to be the ugliest man in English football. Seems like a genuinely nice guy, but he looks like the inspiration for several Star Trek races.|
|Anyone else out there?|
There was a brief breakfast service, but it came with an extra Diet Coke. Score!
|What have we here?|
|Still better than peanuts on a Delta flight|
|Hello tiniest can of Diet Coke. Are you related to that tiny bottle of Diet Coke I had in England?|
|Oh, you brought a friend? Excellent. I shall now consume you both.|
Landing was pretty great. We had a nice view of Frankfurt and its environs and the immediate approach was over a forest, which I've never experienced before. Far better than landing over water like at LaGuardia.
|This was after they told us to turn off electronics but come on, how could I pass on that shot?|
|Someday, Thai air, someday.|
|Oh shit, it's Delta. Please don't tell her I'm on this plane. She'll feel so betrayed.|
One thing that I've not often experienced is parking at a remote gate. We deplaned and then boarded this lovely bus for a quick ride to the terminal:
|That right there is a gorgeous piece of machinery|
Immigration moved quickly and by the time I got to baggage claim, mine was waiting for me. Before leaving England I'd read up on my German Rail pass. I went down to the DB station in the terminal and waited for my pass to be validated. And waited. And waited. It wasn't a long line but it sure was a slow-moving one.
|Poor Germans; can't tell whether to be polite or firm. PLEASE WAIT HERE!|
Eventually my pass was validated and I received instructions on how to get from the airport to the main train station in Frankfurt. Couldn't have been easier as it was just four stops on a subway line. I had just missed the last train, which gave me time to get some lunch. And by lunch I mean Haribo products. Those who know me are aware that my downfalls in the food realm are bread-related products (including pretzels) and non-chocolate sweets. The prevalence of Haribo in Germany would absolutely kill me if I lived here and I have no doubts about that.
|Extra saure my ass|
I had used some Priority Club points to book a relatively new Holiday Inn Express five minutes from the train station. While the area around the train station is not the nicest at night - a few blocks away is the red light district full of junkies and sex shops - I never felt unsafe. I made my way with the luggage over to the Holiday Inn Express. The room wasn't quite ready yet and they asked if I could come back in 30 minutes. Instead I stored my luggage there and went for some Frankfurt wandering. Here is Frankfurt in photos, with captions:
|Soon we will see why Frankfurt, the banking capital of Germany, is known as Mainhattan|
|The skies they are a-threatening|
|Hey, I think I saw your buddies parked out under the HSBC building in Hong Kong. They say hi.|
|That's not how this saying goes?|
|I'm not sure what this sign was supposed to say but all I read is "Capitalism is the <3" which seems awfully incongruous with the rest of this encampment. Very post-modern.|
|A handsome pigeon|
|You have macarons here? Why yes, I would like some.|
|Pistachio and raspberry. They were good. Not great, but good.|
|He will look great next year in an Arsenal uniform (the real Podolski, not the mannequin although frankly the mannequin has a better chance of scoring goals than Chamakh).|
|Nice little pedestrian zone here|
|I loved this building. I don't know who designed it, but two thumbs up for putting a giant bullet hole-looking thing in the side of it.|
|Something tells me this isn't an original building|
|Ah, pretzel and a mezzo mix. Perfect.|
|Mmm, random food hall|
|Ham sandwich. These kinds of details really add to the experience, right?|
|And people say Frankfurt is ugly|
|Some of the coolest spray painting I've seen|
|I don't think you'd find me buying a hammock called "Fatboy". This is the kind of thing I'd expect to see in Tokyo.|
|Listen, I'm telling you Berlin is this way.|
|I found the angle on this shot quite fitting given the times|
After a few hours of wandering I returned to the Holiday Inn Express. The hotel was nice enough for the purpose I needed it for. The wireless was free, though I think that was because of my Priority Club status. It just reinforced how annoying it was that I paid $90 for internet during my four-day stay at the HIE in Paris. Another reason to hate France, I suppose.
The bed was not the most comfortable and I think the pillows were designed to frustrate me, but the rest of the room was good. It had a really interesting shape with a sloping wall, but it all worked somehow. Plus they had an ice machine, something I've come to appreciate in a land where soda costs a fortune outside of supermarkets.
|Very odd room shape but somehow it worked|
|My good luck on views appears to have run out|
Shortly after arriving at the hotel is when things started going down back home, so that was pretty much it for my first day in Germany.