Thursday, 4 April 2013

Jonathan im Deutschland - Third Day

Today dawned grey. I looked out across a beautiful vista that was simply a mass of grey. Things did not look hopeful for our early morning journey to Frankfurt, or The Fort of the Franks, the barbarians (the bearded ones) who would go on to make Frankreich - or in English, Frank-land. Except we dropped the -land, and the hard k, and ended up with France. 

Etymology lesson over for today. Onwards and upwards!

A short drive, two trains (a train station is no place to stand about for fifteen minutes, especially when it's so cold you can actually feel your toes tingling as they cling onto sensation) and a change later we found ourselves in Frankfurt. Our first stop was for liquid fuel, and to my enormous surprise my German was sufficient to order a cup of coffee, a cup of tea and a waffle.

Do not underestimate the ease with which my ego can be stroked. The mere fact that I ordered in German and was understood was enough to put a spring in my step and an easy, winning smile on my face. I imagine I was utterly insufferable. As we sat with hot drinks we bent our heads to planning, having acquired a plan of the city in the tourist information centre for a mere fifty cents.

(I also acquired an interesting book in French about Frankfurt, which the lady sold me in French. Because she speaks French, English and German and instantly won my eternal respect.)

The plan was to head out of the town centre and in the pursuit of knowledge and museums. We puzzled our way through the U-bahn (underground trains which, puzzlingly, convert themselves into trams with no warning.) system and set out an itinerary. We were so intensely involved in the planning, in fact, that my waffle that I'd left warming over my coffee sagged and sunk into it. Fishing a caramel waffle out of a cup of hot coffee is not an exercise I recommend to anyone.

With our bodies refueled we set off like jet planes except slower and with legs. Our first stop was the Explora science museum. It's not a science museum like the one in London, it's just a wee thing hidden away ten minutes from a U-bahn stop. It's over four levels, each floor with something fascinating for the eyes or the ears. A path is laid out, and you go up to the top floor first. There are these lovely images, which use mirrors to construct an image of the painter of the images that surround the mirrors.

It's a bit complicated when I explain it, but the images should help explain what I mean - for example, on the left here we've got Picasso in the mirrored pyramid with paintings in his style around it. I couldn't work out how the image got in there, so perhaps someone with a bigger brain than me can figure it out and leave a comment to let me know.

I also really like this one, which is - well, it's obvious who.

There were also a load of holograms, some of which were seriously unsettling and some of which were simply surprising.

We also agreed that clowns, all clowns, could go fuck themselves, and further that any adult who thought children would not be emotionally scarred by clown-doctors could join the clowns in auto-adoration.

I really don't like clowns.

After the museum we headed back towards the old town. Our stomachs were gurgling and hunger was setting in - Ali and are people who need to be fed regularly or we become snappy and grumpy. I know people who can play video games all day and need nothing more than water for sustenance but I am not one of those people. I am a person for whom food is an addiction and the withdrawal pangs more than I can face.

We were momentarily distracted from the onset of starvation by a cathedral. It takes a lot to take my mind off my next meal, but this building was sufficient. The cathedral is astonishing. It is a work that has been in progress since the 14th century. That's unbelievable. It looks astonishing, and although it's impossible to capture such a mass of stone in a photograph, I've given it a go. 

It's absolutely incredible, both outside and inside. The inside is enormous, with two organs and an incredible mix of artwork. I say mix because it's not every day you have ancient sculpture:

One of the thieves at Jesus' side will be going to heaven.
Odds are it's not the chap with the most clothes on.

With this quite frankly disturbing interpretation of the crucifixion, although it does raise interesting ideas about the nature of Christ, vis-à-vis his humanity versus his divinity.

Or at least it does to nerds like me. To everyone else maybe not.

The middle skull has a crown of thorns, just in case the viewer is not as obsessed with Christ-mythology as me.

However, even the incredible works of humanity could only do so much to stave off the pangs of hunger, and we descended once more into the bowels of the earth in search of food.

We found it. Oh, god did we find it.

We found a little place that served me a burger that I ate (ate is the normal verb, but demolished, devoured, destroyed would better describe the action) with haste, while Ali had a club sandwich for which even the most homesick of Americans would shred his or her passport.

Lunch took a goodly long time, and it was 4pm before we left. Both Ali and I were excited for our next stop; the Natural History Museum. It can be found opposite the Goethe University and is a mere 4€ for students. Plus, dinosaurs. 




I like dinosaurs. They were terrible thunder lizards and this guy was the king of the terrible thunder lizards.

Saying that, I also like Economics, French, etymology, physics, mathematics and apparently now German, so I'm kind of slutty when it comes to giving my attention to things.

Knowledge is there to be picked up and learnt. It loves to be learnt. Get it inside you.

Alright, enough silliness. Onwards to the exciting time we spent in the natural history museum...

Or didn't. It was half past four when we arrived, and the museum would close at five.

We turned ourselves around and headed back towards the station to catch our train, but before we did, we stopped off at Willy-Brandt-Platz.

Stop sniggering at the back there.

In...the Platz, there is a giant European symbol. This was good for me, because I love Europe. Europe is sexy and full of different languages and you don't need to change your money. It's probably infantile to be pleased by this, but I can take money earned in Paris and spend it in Frankfurt and at no point will an exchange earn commission for changing my money.
I like that. I like a lot of other things about Europe, but that's the thing that struck me today.

Note that one of the stars is broken. Notice how I make no political comment at all here, because this is a fun blog about my third year abroad and also because a broken light is literally meaningless, unless you need to see your way to your bathroom or you've forgotten it's broken and you bruise your foot trying to turn it on.

Don't ask me why you'd turn a light on with your foot, because I agree that it's insane.

Another two trains, another brief car journey, and we're here. And I've written all this to you and uploaded photos from the day; if you're interested in seeing them, just click here.

Europe. I love you. Frankfurt, I'm going to be in you again tomorrow. We saw something by the Europe symbol that means we'll be back in the fort of the Franks tomorrow. To find out what it is, you should probably follow me on twitter.