Alpine Adventure- part III
Sunday July 17. 2016- Frankfurt am Main, Germany
We were up early today at 5 A.M., our Circadian rhythms all askew. We watched the British Open on BBC before descending to the lobby for Fruhstuck (breakfast) at 7 A.M. At most of these hotels, they present an entire breakfast buffet that would satisfy the Chinese Army on maneuvers. We tried to be careful, mindful of the caloric onslaught to come. They had pretty good coffee, something that is hard to find.
Midmorning, we hooked up with the #12 light rail for the ride into the Romerplaz. The train was sro. Mothers with strollers, kids with bikes and travelers of every stripe use the public transit here. At Der Romerplaz, we encountered virtual waves of tourists from everywhere. We bought tickets for the ninety-minute tour of the Main River and waded through the peopled throng to the tour boats a few hundred yards away. The boats too were sro. Everyone must be on vacation here in July. A working steam train was just chugging by, camera clicking tourists hanging from the old time windows.
It was 77 degrees, hot and sunny as we glided up and down the Main River. Several museums, a river walk and lots of green space had people spread out all over the place. The rivers are their beaches here. A few beergartens, along the shore, draw them in thirsty throngs. The vista of downtown Frankfurt was magnificent. Several blue- glass towers glistened in the afternoon sun. Two medieval churches sprouted up amidst the glass as a temporal counterpoint. The Main River only runs a few miles in each direction before emptying into canals, which reach the Danube and the Rhine. For the 19 Euro price tag, it is a good ride.
After the river tour, we again walked up the pedestrian walkway. Throngs of people were sitting, enjoying beer or coffee or other refreshments. It seems that one of the major past times here is to sit by and watch everyone else walk by.
It was hot and muggy. We were still jet lagged, so we set off back to pick up the light rail for the ride back to the hotel. The ride is a tour in and of its self. The Bahnhof (train station) had at least twelve buses parked out-front, waiting for cargos of camera clickers. People were sunning themselves in the Opera Plaz and every other available space.
At the hotel, I wrote up my notes and we watched the British Open on the BBC. We were meeting our tour group for dinner at 6 P.M. in the hotel.
Our GLOBUS Guide introduced herself. Lucia (Lucy) Gelmi is a 5’2”, 90 lb. , sixtyish, fireball from Northern Italy, with all of the kinetic energy of a whirling dervish. This remarkable woman was to be our guide, mother hen and tour leader, for the 44 assembled souls, for the next thirteen days. She had a wry sense of humor and an encyclopedic memory for details. Her constant narration bespoke of a wonderful classical education that included an in-depth knowledge of European Art, History, Geography, Music and several other fields. Like most tours, a good leader makes or breaks the trip. It was to be the case with this interesting and remarkable woman. How she ever found time to sleep after taking care of the many demands placed on her was a mystery.
Our fellow travelers were an eclectic group. Thirteen Aussies had joined us. Some from rural Perth and the rest from the urban Sydney area. Like most Aussies that we have ever run into, they were laid back, pleasant and easy to be around.
One couple from Saudi Arabia was adopted by all of us. The Berka-clad wife was beautiful and possessed of a handful of English. Her portly husband had virtually none, He communicated with gestures and smiles and had a wonderful sense of humor. Interacting with them was fun.
The American contingent was a good spread of geography. A couple with their adult (and costly) daughter from Northern California, another Mother and daughter from Phoenix, a couple and two women from the NYC area, a couple from Las Vegas, several couples from the mid west, four Chinese Americans from San Diego, and a couple from Charlotte and one from Atlanta rounded out the bill. Though as ethnically diverse as possible, we were to meld together remarkably well. Each proved to be mostly on time, considerate of each other and affable to socialize with. We tried to have breakfast, lunch or dinner with everyone on the tour over the next thirteen days. The interactions were as pleasant and as educational as they always are. Diverse cultures and backgrounds can make for fascinating conversations over meals or coffee. We were fortunate to have such fine people to travel with.
Lastly, our bus driver got an intro. He is a tall, good-natured Hungarian by the name of Tibor. Either he had nerves of steel or no nerves at all. This fantastic wheelman ( I had to explain to him what a mobster’s wheel man was) steered us in and out of major city traffic, up and down mountain roads that make you dizzy and calmly traversed the Alps with a huge bus, like he was driving a low-slung sports car. He made the ride a pleasure instead of a white-knuckle adventure.
Tomorrow, we would get a 6:00 A.M. wake up call, have our bags out in the hall for pickup and be ready on the bus for the eight A.M. start of the tours. It was to be a fun and educational experience.
Joseph Xavier Martin