Day 1 – Friday Sept 16 – What to do during a 13-hour layover

17 Sep

Departed Ottawa 20 minutes late but a tailwind got us into Frankfurt 5 minutes early. This might have been the easiest flight I’ve ever taken. Takeoff was immediately followed by two Simpsons episodes, a Daily Show, and supper (chicken with rice and red wine). I then fell asleep for 4 hours and woke up about an hour before landing.

Now, this is the first time in years where I’ve checked a bag on the way out of Canada (I’m bringing a package for a friend) and I had to keep reminding myself to collect it after we landed. For some reason in Frankfurt airport one goes through customs / immigration, exits the secure area and then proceeds to another area for the baggage collection. I find this very strange. Canada is much more organized in this respect (it seems to me anyway).

The "package"

As much as I hate checking luggage – it is a form of insurance against missing your flight. When travelling with a carry-on one is more susceptible to the plane leaving without you. When you check luggage they really try to find you if you miss last call because they have to open up the hold and remove your checked luggage if you don’t get on the plane.

FRA (Frankfurt Airport) has a high-speed rail link with the rest of Germany. Before I left I purchased a rail pass for 6 days, 3 countries (Italy, Germany, France), to be used within two months of activation. To activate the pass one has to go to the Deutsch Bahn desk in the train station to get it validated. You also have to fill out the day and month of travel *before* you get on the train. I forgot to do this and the inspector reminded me of this (in German) when she checked my ticket on the train.

As I write this I am on my way to Siegburg to visit with Nina and to see Mortiz and the new baby (Frederic is one year old). ICE (Inter City Express) 1016 is traveling at a cool 300 km/h. It’ll take about 38 minutes to travel 144 KM. I’ve got some free time so I’m going to pick up a mobile phone, eat a donner-kebap with a nice Kolsch, and visit the Obi (the German equivalent of Home Depot).

I thought he was going to choke on that banana

And I am now back at FRA after a successful mission to Siegburg. All of the previously-mentioned tasks were completed with no complications. After having supper with Nina we went to a bookstore and found her a copy of The Four-hour Workweek (in German Die 4-Stunden Woche – literally translated as The 4 Hour Week – I guess Germany it is assumed that every week is a work week).

While I was killing time waiting for Nina to finish work, I decided to walk to the Obi – it was about a kilometre and a half (one mile for my American readers). The journey was through an industrial sector and I was surprised to see dozens of manufacturing businesses  – auto parts, metal work, high-tech, solar power, environmental. Some anecdotal evidence to support the claim that Germany has managed to retain its manufacturing base while many other countries have relocated this sort of industry.

Now the Obi is just awesome: two floors, super-well organized, tonnes of building supplies. Interestingly enough the flooring section had lots of laminate floors and almost no hardwood. I think this has to do with two things: 1. hardwood is very expensive in Germany and 2. most of the homes are made of concrete (requiring engineered hardwood). In Canada our houses are made of wood and wood is cheap. I found a bathroom sink that I’m going to try and bring back with me. I need to redo the second floor bathroom – the sink-tiolet-shower configuration is a disaster. This sink will enable me to rotate the toilet 90 degrees and install a proper tub / shower combination. I’m sure Preston Hardware sells the same sink for about 8 times the price.

I hope this one survives the voyage home.

I’ve never been to Rome before. I was in Milan for Jan’s wedding back in 2006 and I’ve been told that the north of Italy has a Germanic influence while the south is more Mediterranean. I’ve got someone to pick me up at the airport (thank you Laura!). The idea of having to find transportation in Rome at 00:30 is not something I really want to undertake at this point. The subway closes at midnight.

BTW, this is my first time blogging so I’m not sure how much detail one should include in these posts. Right now I’m using the writing as a sort of electronic caffeine pill. If I don’t stay awake for the first day I’ll end up sleeping right through Canada’s World Cup game on Sunday morning (I wonder if the Italian pubs will be serving…)

6 Responses to “Day 1 – Friday Sept 16 – What to do during a 13-hour layover”

  1. Lottabot September 17, 2011 at 12:46 #

    You will have to learn to spell properly; simply dismissing all umlauts is not an option!! Trust me, you’ll fail German if you don’t get umlauts in the proper places!!
    Eg: Kolsch vs. Kölsch
    Donner kebap vs. Döner Kebab. (Donner means thunder, which I hope you won’t find in your awesome Turkish dish)

    Also the railway company is called Deutsche Bahn.
    Man, I miss Europe!

    • diehardthree September 18, 2011 at 21:38 #

      Will you be my official proofreader? 😉

  2. chapfu September 17, 2011 at 17:35 #

    Nice! I’m sure the detail will die down incrementally on its own as you get into a routine. Also? Manly choice of pink theme on the ol’ blog.

    • diehardthree September 20, 2011 at 06:22 #

      For some reason, your comment was flagged as spam. Very strange… As for the pink, it was the default colour. I will try and find a manly colour.

  3. Nina September 19, 2011 at 17:42 #

    I liked the sms you sent me: “I’m at the OBI. Come find me” and sure enough i knew you would be at the sanitary section.


  1. Day 0 of ? – Blog Time | Die Hard Three - February 27, 2018

    […] was a little nervous because it’s been almost seven years since I’ve done this (I’m a strong believer in carry-on-only travel). But the Air […]

Leave a Reply to chapfu Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: