Dulles & Frankfurt exert gravitational pull on my life. Dulles has been the jumping off point and Frankfurt the landing spot for most of my overseas adventures. In spite of dozens of stops in Frankfurt, I have left the airport only twice: during my first international travel in 1979 (when I hitchhiked down the road, promptly got lost and spent the night on a park bench in Heidelberg) and last year when I made some local appointments. Frankfurt is an interesting place, but most of us see only the transit airport. We arrive tired, dirty, cranky and eager to go someplace else. We leave with a bad impression. Too bad.
The State Department generously gave me business class because my travel time is well over 14 hours, so I got some rest on the flight over. Now I have the 8+ hour wait before I leave for Amman to await milair to Baghdad.
I am sitting in the Business Lounge in FRK. Snacks and Coca Cola are free. I can plug in my computer. Other than that the place has little to recommend it. I arrived to a rows of unattractive grey chairs, crowded with unattractive grey people surrounded by dour grey and blue walls. Sadly, this is the place where I belong. We all tend to see FRK through grey filters.
However, things are looking up. After a little while, most of those crowds moved along to their final destinations (what an ominous phrase) leaving the place quiet for us happy few long-term residents. It is not so bad w/o the tumult. I managed to sleep a little and although I have the stiff neck to prove I can sleep sitting straight up, I feel refreshed and in a much better mood than when I walked through the door a couple of hours ago.
I have also found another thing that discerning travelers appreciate about Germany – beer. They have a splendid little machine that dispenses Beck’s beer the German way – with the proper amount of foam in the proper type of glass. It may be mere psychology, but the stuff we get in the bottles back home just is not the same. The properly tapped beer is an art form, with froth just above the rim, so that you enjoy the visual beauty, feel and smell the flavor before you taste it. Some people appreciate fine wine. That’s nothing but grape juice in old bottles to an old Milwaukee boy like me who prefers beer. Since I will not be seeing much of the golden liquid grain in Iraq, I do not mind drinking it here. The grey surroundings have brightened. They are even some big pretzels and what looks like goulash soup.
Es gibt kein schoneres leben, even if it is only an airport and only for a moment. On the road to Iraq, I take it when I can, because when I am gone from here, everybody else will be drinking all the beer. FRK is not all that bad, once you get to know it.