Monday, 6 June 2011

Wie peinlich!

How embarrassing!

Whether it's spilling another glass of water over my desk, asking customers to return their mail to my home address or realising I have not updated this for four months, I seem to be a walking embarrassment at the moment. Apologies, I've just been rather busy.

In the past few months I have experienced German Karneval, seen Belle and Sebastian in Cologne,  museum-hopped until 1 am, cheered the Swedish Eurovision act in Düsseldorf and spent a rainy afternoon at the Palmengarten, amongst other things. Now I only have 7 (?) weeks left in FfM and think I should try and bring this blog up to date.

I also have my last ever German Swedish class, two scout/guide camps and an Abschiedsfest to come so cannot promise this will all happen at once.

In any case, thanks for dropping in. I'll try and give you something interesting to read soon.

I still have a voucher for a 2-week trial of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung I could send you.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Eins zwei drei - Mubarak ist vorbei!

One, two, three - Mubarak has to leave! (lit: 1, 2, 3, Mubarak is over, but that doesn't rhyme, or scan, very well)

Frankfurt is a very international city. I have mentioned this before. When the uprising in Tunisia happened, hundreds also demonstrated down the Zeil in support. Today we saw a protest march of women against Berlusconi. One had a sign which stated "Berlusconismus = Sexismus" ("Berlusconism = sexism") which I think pretty much got to the point of that one.

During the revolution currently underway in Egypt some members of the Egyptian community (and others) here have also been very vocal in how they feel about the current (or maybe now former? under transition?) leadership of the country. They are not too pleased.

Below are a couple of photographs of the demonstration which took place around a sculpture by Konstablerwache on 29th January. They won't win any prizes but you get the idea. I found the "Hillary! Man up or shut up!" sign most amusing.

Leading the chants

Friday, 11 February 2011

Werden Sie nie alt, bleiben Sie jung!

"Never get old, stay young!"

These wise words (or veiled death threats) were offered to me by a kindly alte Dame I encountered in Penny Markt today.

I had just stood to one side to let her pass with her walking frame and she thanked me very heartily. She then commented on how "aufmerksam" (thoughtful) it was of me to let her pass. She said it wasn't always the case, to which I replied "wirklich?!" (really?!) and she went on to say that some people even told her to get out of the way! I commented of course that it was "schade" (a pity) that some people are in such a rush and are so rude.

She thanked me again for my Aufmerksamkeit and then gave me the lovely advice in the title. Which I thought I should pass on.

Sadly in the past few days it has been quite difficult to take heed of her words as I have felt about 80 since Tuesday night when I was wearing two jumpers and sat under a blanket despite the heating being on a bit too high. Since then I have spent a day in bed, a day on the couch and this morning have been to the doctor's (hence my office hours excursion to Penny Markt). But now I have Gummibärchen and a copy of my favourite trashy magazine (inTouch) to keep me going, and some good advice to help me along.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Stumbling on history

Frankfurt (and Germany in general, it seems) has a way of keeping you in touch with the history of wherever you happen to be. Whether this is through the many and varied musuems - such as on the Museumufer - or the architecture (more on this to come), or the memorials and plaques which can be found in unexpected places.

As well as memorials to Schiller, Goethe and Guthenberg, others are commemorated. Off Grüneburgweg is Simon-Bolivar-Anlage, in honour of the great South American liberator (though his link to Frankfurt is unknown to me). The inventor of the telephone (Phillip Reis! Who on earth is Alexander Graham-Bell?!) has a memorial on the Escherheimer Anlage, opposite the cinema. And the writer of Struwwelpeter and the composer Schopenhauer are also remembered with a plaque showing their profiles affixed to the house they both lived in, but not at the same time. The house is now a steakhouse. 

All the schools are named after greats. Nearby is Engelbert Humperdinck Schule, commemorating the original opera composer rather than the 70s pop singer. Authors, art historians and former mayors are similary honoured. 

Many of the streets are also dedicated to the memories of noted persons. All within a few minutes' walk from me are Beethoverstraße, Mendelssohnstraße and Freiherr-vom-Steinstraße. 

Frankfurt is also very considerate of its less historically clued-up residents and visitors. Even if you have no idea who the street has been named after, a little appendix to the street sign will tell you their full name, when they lived and why they are of note. Rathenauplatz? Rathenau? Oh, Walther Rathenau (1867-1922), famous politician and writer!? He definitely deserves a street! These are at their best when giving details of how a local person improved the neighbourhood, but sadly I do not have any pictures of those ones.

However, perhaps the most easily missed but most poignant memorials are the Stolpersteine (stumbling blocks). These are slighly uneven stones set into the pavement which bear a brass plaque. These small brass squares are installed outside the homes of (mostly) Jews who were deported during National Socialism. Names, dates of birth and fates of the victims are given. Outside some houses whole families are remembered.

Here lived OTTO ISIDOR WOLF, born 1881. Left home town in 1939. Deported 1942. Murdered Sobibor. 

These little reminders of horrors which took place are dotted all around the city. Every so often a peaceful walk or rush into town is interrupted by a misstep and looking down you realise what has caused it. Looking up you see the house where such horrors took place and are happy you can't imagine what that was like.

All over Frankfurt there is no getting away from the history around the corner, up above, and under your feet. 

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Fliegen müsste man können

You had to be able able to fly

A Weihnachtsmann (Santa Claus) cartoon has just come on TV with this title. Once in every 100 years Santa throws a big party for the elves, other helpers in his workshop and other friends including Jack Frost and St Lucia (complete with candle-crown). And this is one of those years. It has only just started so I am not sure who had to be able to fly yet.

Well, apart from me. I have been checking the Lufthansa and Frankfurt Airport websites in a compulsive fashion since Saturday. Yesterday the flights to Manchester were badly affected, today all but the earliest were cancelled. I am taking the early flight tomorrow. Heavy rain is forecast. That's better than snow. So I am hoping for the best, crossing my fingers and pressing my thumbs.

My other flatmates however did not have smooth journeys home. After a scheduled departure to Heathrow on Saturday, one has finally arrived in Birmingham after three days of cancellations and waiting lists. My other flatmate is on a somewhat later than planned scheduled flight to Helsinki.

I am feeling slightly seasick. I think this is due to a combination of stress and the rocking of our office today. Two buildings away another office block is being torn down and every so often the office would suddenly rock or sway or judder. I was prepared at any  moment to thrown myself under a desk should I see a crack appear in any supporting walls. In a hospital or a news report about the collapse of a Westend office block would not have been my ideal start to the holidays.

An ideal start to the holidays would be a flight home tomorrow...I hope the Weihnachtsmann is right!

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Ich hätte gerne einen Glühwein bitte

I would like a Glühwein please

As you may have gathered from my previous post, Christmas has really hit here in Frankfurt. The Christmas market began just before the first advent and seems to grow daily. I found an extra twenty stalls today that I am sure were not there last weekend. Among the hand crafted decorations, crepes, sausages and general tat (hopefully more to follow on these later), the main staple of any Weihnachtsmarkt is Glühwein.

Glühwein is an alcoholic beverage, served warm, consisting of red wine which has been heated with herbs and spices and fruits: usually containing cinammon, cloves and oranges. So, basically, it is mulled wine. But somehow it is much, much better than the horrible mulled wine you would always try a sip of at Christmas parties when you were little and then spit out, claiming you would never drink alcohol again in your life because it tasted manky.

The whole idea of Glühwein is ingrained into every German (and temporary German resident) as soon as Christmas is mentioned or the temperature starts to hover around zero (whichever is soonest). It offers a chance to warm up, due to the temperature and alcohol content is served at, an excuse to visit the Christmas market, and a good reason to meet up with some friends and ensure the Christmas period is merry.

Glühwein is available at bars, cafes and of course the Weihnachtsmarkt. The going price this year seems to be 2,50 €. Prost!

'tis the season

The Christmas season seems to be upon us. And walking around Frankfurt is bound to give one some inspiration as to what to do to celebrate this most wonderful time of the year.

You could...
Go shopping on the Zeil...

Strangle a reindeer with your handbag...

Wear your finest pine skirt...

Lasso the baby reindeer that got away earlier with another handbag...