A Trip To Europe, Hold the Tourists Please

Frankfurt, Germany

From: Philip Semanchuk
To: john, irene & scott, steve & liz
Subject: update from Germany
Date: Thursday, September 2, 1999 09:00 AM

I'm killing a day here in Frankfurt waiting for my plane which leaves at 5PM. Took the train from Prague last night and shared a 6 berth couchette with 3 Venezuelans (Juan, José and Chani) and Darwin, a guy from New Dehli. The border crossing happened at 1AM so we got to talk to the cheery German passport person in the middle of our REM cycle. It is nice to wake up to KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK "GUTEN MORGON, PASSPORTKONTROLLEN, SPRECHEN SIE DEUTCHES?!?" (he liked to shout). Poor Darwin, he needed some visa or other that he didn't have, the border guard was saying things like "YOUR PAPERS ISS NOT IN ORDER!!!" We finally had to throw him (the border guard) off the train so we could get some sleep. Cultural note: A U.S. passport almost always guarantees a smile and minimal hassle.

I can already speak a little German. So far I know "ja" ("yes"), "nein" ("nine"), and "Guten Tag, sailor" ("I need a place to stay for the night"). My first stop in a new country is usually an ATM to get some local currency. I approached one at the train station here in F'furt and then read the name: "Geldautomat"! Yikes! I don't want to be gelded, all I want is 50DM! Leave it to the Europeans to come up with on-the-street sterilization. I may have got the translation wrong but I'm not taking any chances.

OK, I'm off. I have no idea how much this is costing me. I think it is 6.50DM per 30 minutes, but I'm not sure, and I'm not too sure how much a DM is anyway. And this damn keyboard has a z where the y should be, so it is a qwertz keyboard instead of a qwerty. And I don't want a German cybercafe owner shouting at me, "YOU OWE ME SIX HUNDRED DEUTCHMARKS!!!! COME, WE GO TO GELDOMAT NOW!"

Auf Wierdershame,

Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered in the Toronto Airport

Slept fitfully and watched Notting Hill on the way from Frankfurt to Toronto. Too cloying to watch, or maybe I was just too crabby. Arrived in Toronto, had dinner with friend Nicole and returned to the airport at 00:30 which was 06:30 as far as my body was concerned. I zonked out in the airport despite the uncomfortable seats and the noise and the cold (it is freezing in here). I slept until 04:45 when a busload of tourists arrived and like a flock of noisy birds they all came to roost chattering right where I was trying to sleep. Why here? You have the whole airport to choose from!

My eyes are burning again, from dry airplane air and from being open much too much.

Friday, September 3rd. Home.

Airplane. Shuttle bus. TTA bus. Walk. Home. Relief. My bed. My cat. I buy Philadelphonic by G. Love and Special Sauce as a welcome home present for myself. My stereo. Burritos. Bliss.