Casting nasturtiums

We arrived in Germany extremely jetlagged. We left St Louis early afternoon on Tuesday, for a connecting flight at Chicago. A man we met in the security queue at St Louis (whose job was checking airport security scanners) said he never accepts jobs at Denver or Chicago and goes out of his way to avoid both airports, which are notorious for delays and other problems darkly hinted at. But we weren’t delayed at Chicago; our problem was at St Louis, which we left about an hour after scheduled departure.

Our impression of Chicago’s O’Hare airport, as we hurtled from one end of the terminal to the other, with less than ten minutes to get to the Lufthansa gate, was that it was modern, upbeat and clean and I wouldn’t have minded if I’d had to wait around in such surroundings – but not if it meant missing our flight to Frankfurt.

Fortunately, we made it onto the plane. Our luggage did not. This had both good and bad sides to it. On the good, Lufthansa delivered it to our hotel later on that afternoon, and that meant we didn’t have to lug it around ourselves. On the bad, it was very hot in Frankfurt and we didn’t have a change of clothes. Not so bad really, as lost luggage dramas go.

broken zipperThe worst thing, and probably unrelated to delays, was that when the luggage arrived, the zip on my big, new, moderately expensive suitcase was no longer in one piece. Well, actually the problem is that it was only in one piece, not several, as befits a functional zipper (see picture at left), and was also sans padlock.

Now I was forewarned that US customs are known for ripping padlocks apart in their vigilant search for weapons of mass destruction and other suspicious items (Ha! The poor fools opened the suitcase that didn’t have the Milo), so I had spent a bit extra and bought “US-proof” padlocks. But I am now not only minus one such padlock, I also have a security problem of my own, which sadly cannot be resolved by brute force. But hopefully my new, bright purple luggage straps will stop things falling out.

Not happy, Uncle Sam.

You may think I am being unduly suspicious and casting unwarranted nasturtiums, and perhaps I am, but when I called Lufthansa, their rep immediately leaped to the same conclusion. In the interests of good customer relations however, Lufthansa did accept my claim and will reimburse me if I get it fixed or replaced. I wonder how many non-US airlines have had to fork out compensation for damaged luggage, due to US customs? Perhaps that is why my flight from the US arrived in by far the least inviting arrival hall at the Flughafen: a subtle revenge. I know it’s the least inviting because I spent about an hour traipsing around Terminal 1 on Thursday in my quest for compensation.

So what next? Well, we are staying in Frankfurt. I’d considered moving to a hotel in Mainz but then decided it was too much trouble given our current state of exhaustion. I’m hoping we can do everything easily from here. In order to stay we will be playing musical rooms tho. We have to move from basement to 3rd floor & then back down. I don’t think this is a bad thing, especially as the concierge will move our bags for us.

I chose the Hotel Am Berg on the strength of a review at Lonely Planet which piqued my interest. It has paid off – it is an interesting place, staff are friendly and helpful, it’s quiet and reasonably central, and I don’t mind at all getting a squiz at three bedrooms instead of just one. It’s paid off. The second room was an attic with great views (@$%@$ hot tho), & our third room is gorgeous & moderne. 

Not much else has happened since we arrived. Almost as soon as we got off the plane ActionMan went berserk with the camera, which he generally ignores, snapping everything from the interior of our bus from the airport (so spacious, clean and modern, with an interesting ticketing system), to an Asian man in the town square who was playing the flute while balancing some extraordinary contraption on his nose, to various elderly building facades, to cars parked on a cobbled footpath.

It has been a source of fascination to him how many expensive European cars there are; some of which hold almost mythical status in our home suburb: Audis, BMWs, Mercedes, Renaults, Peugeots and the occasional  Alfa Romeo or Ferrari. Plus of course every second car’s a VW (fortunately not beatles or my arms would be black & blue from “punch-buggy, no return”).

After a brief and mostly unproductive visit to an internet cafe on Wednesday morning he morphed into his alter-ego, LethargyLad, and we both had a nap. He has remained stuck in this alter-ego ever since.

Wednesday night we went to an Indian restaurant for dinner & it turned out the waiter had lived in Sydney for a number of years, so we had a bit of a reminisce and he gave us some advice about getting around.

Thursday I did a bit of catching up with my photo blog (not fully up to date tho), then dealt with the luggage issue, and with the repercussions of letting AM have that afternoon nap the day before – he’s having trouble becoming diurnal & wanted to sleep all afternoon. We needed a quiet day tho, and that’s mostly what we got.

Friday the lethargy continued but we managed to buy him some clothes, and I finally figured out what we’d be doing for our last two days – more on that in the next post. But it may be a while before you get an update as we leave for Ghana on Monday, & I’ve no idea yet what sort of internet access I’ll have.

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