Willkommen! We are finally enjoying vacation time under a gloomy sky on the main square of Frankfurt (Römer). A few minutes ago the clouds opened up and dumped rain on the tourists and locals enjoying their Sunday afternoon. We are still relatively dry under the huge umbrella, sipping our drinks and laughing at the situation. I said I wasn’t going to write a novel for each location on our trip, but I’m already violating that rule.
So how did we get here? Suffice to say, the last 24 hours have had their high points and low points. It started yesterday morning when our pre-paid limo to DIA didn’t show up at the pre-arranged time (7:15 am). I called their office and let the phone ring until someone finally answered. Our assigned driver was given a pick-up time one hour later (not in adequate time to meet our flight), so I expressed my disdain (duh!), canceled the service, and we scrambled to pack the car and drive out to the airport. Because of all the bags and my wheelchair, we parked in the west garage in a close-in handicapped spot. Here’s a thought – 17 days at $21 a day in the DIA garage; the limo was $85 each way, so all of our faithful readers can do the math. I may try to get the parking paid by the Limo company when I get back.
Our flight to Dulles was on-time and adventure-free. We arrived at gate D11 and the alleged departure gate for our Frankfurt flight (at least when we left Denver) was D7. Alas, this was too good to be true; the flight had moved to C4, on the other end of the LONG concourse. Steve was amazed to discover that the east end of the concourse is about 50-75 feet higher than the west end (something you wouldn’t know unless you were pushing an overweight person in a wheelchair).
We boarded our flight, very happy that I had cashed in miles for first class. We left right on time, had great service (and pretty good food) and arrived in Frankfurt after an extremely short 7-1/2 hour flight. Once we arrived, we were reminded (again) about the incredible lack of awareness the Europeans have about disabled people. We waited, literally, until every single person on a full 777 had disembarked and still no wheelchair was in sight (and my knee was throbbing). Finally, it showed up and we entered a passport line that was huge. We found out, after nearly 20 minutes in this line, that it was for transit passengers only (put up a sign, you blithering idiots). We headed in the opposite direction, raced through passport control, and grabbed the bags for a long walk to the Frankfurt Sheraton (I pushed my wheelchair with a bag in the seat through a mind-boggling maze of elevators and hallways).
We finally arrived at the check-in at the hotel. We were rewarded with early check-in for a handicapped accessible room (yay, Sheraton!). Service was impeccable and we collapsed for a three-hour snooze.
We awoke in time to book our seats on our Lufthansa flight tomorrow to Venice. Apparently, LH flights within Europe are set up so that you can’t book seats until 23 hours before the flight! (WTF, over?). We finally did get decent seats and our boarding passes, so we showered and decided to head to the center of Frankfurt.
Considering the high cost of a cab, we elected to take the U-Bahn (located right under the Sheraton and the airport) to the center of town. This seemed like a reasonable choice until we discovered that there was no handicapped access to the U-Bahn platform for trains heading in that direction. We asked a nice young lady at the information desk and she had to shut down and escort us through a bizarre maze of “back-lot” paths to a dingy key-operated elevator that took us to the platform. We got on the train, found our way to the Römer and the rest is history!
We found a nice sidewalk cafe, had some Reisling wine and local beer, and indulged in a lovely salad to keep the engines running. At precisely 4:00 pm Frankfurt time, the heavens opened up and the rain poured down. It kept raining and we kept hanging out. Our dear waiter, Bruno, was from Sardinia. We had some great conversations about “collapsible wheelchairs”, “changing the subject” and other American idioms. Dear Bruno bought us a round just before the rain let up, then we found our way back to the U-Bahn (handicapped accessible in the airport direction), ate dinner in the hotel, and are now on our way to the room to collapse again.
All in all, a very nice day in Frankfurt, once we discarded the travel day nonsense.
More to come from Venice….