Next time, I will certainly know better than to book a flight that arrives latish in the evening, no matter how much money I want to save.
I had taken the S-Bahn in from the airport to the main train station. I knew that my hotel was a block or two away, but I was very tired and my suitcases seemed very heavy. (My roommate has reminded me of the Law of Gravitation that Newton forgot to mention: objects get heavier as one gets older.) So I went up to the cab rank and took a cab.
I had expected that the cab driver would be happy that I was taking his cab when I could easily have walked. But I hadn't really thought the matter through.
"But this is just around the corner," he said.
"I know, but I didn't want to carry my suitcases." He was speaking to me in English, and his English was even more rudimentary than my German. But I hadn't yet got my mind into German-speaking mode.
"I had to wait a whole clock at the station," he said.
I sympathized. It's a drag to wait. But I'd missed the point, and a moment later he tried again. "I had to wait a whole clock in line, and now I'll have to wait again. But it's okay."
Now I understood. I hadn't done him any favor. He'd had to wait an hour to get to the head of the line to pick up a passenger, and what he got was me, who only needed to go around the corner.
I was a little intrigued by his coming up with the word "clock" when searching for the English word for hour. The German word for clock (as well as o'clock) is Uhr, which does sound vaguely like "hour." The German word for hour, on the other hand, is Stunde, which sounds nothing like clock.
The meter read 3.50 euros, and what with the charge for luggage, it might have come to almost 5 euros. So I gave him a 10 euro note and told him to keep the change and apologized for having prevented him from picking up a better fare. I don't know to what extent the tip made up for his loss, but he seemed grateful.
I got to my hotel about 10 PM, and at this point I realized that there might be difficulty in finding dinner. The hotel restaurant was closed and it was a bit late to be wandering around in an unknown city looking for a place to eat.
Well, the reception clerk at the hotel recommended a restaurant three blocks away which turned out to be nice and quite cheap. A smallish place, with the owner serving the tables and a woman behind the desk performing some indiscernible function. Two or three other staff in the kitchen (a single cook, it seemed to me) and elsewhere backstage.
As I mentioned before, I enjoyed the owner's very German attitude. Very courteous, in the German way.
The next day I rode the trams around for a while, as is usual when I arrive in a new city, and went to the Altstadt, which has very little which is actually very old, but is probably the major shopping area in Frankfurt. I saw a sign pointing to an Irish pub a few blocks away, and it occurred to me that a beer would be nice. But the pub turned out to be closed at that time in the afternoon.
But across the street a German bar was open. I walked in and found a scene that looked like something out of Faulkner or another Southern Gothic writer. A very small place, three tables, and four people sitting at them, two of which were markedly deformed. A man with a strangely deformed face, and a woman with a very severely bent back --- acute arthritis, apparently.
Of the other two, males, at a different table, one seemed apparently deficient in terms of intelligence and the other actually ordinary. They all looked at me in surprise, but the almost normal male, who turned out to be the owner, recovered in a moment and asked me if I wanted to order something. So I got a beer (like so many German bars, they only carried one brand).
And I sat and drank my beer, and they had their two conversations in German which I couldn't understand. But as I looked around the room, I noticed a stack of Gay-Lesbian fliers stacked on the cigarette machine. I couldn't quite make out what they were for, because "Gay" and "Lesbian" were about the only words I understood.
And then I saw a sign saying, "Underwear party, every Friday at 10 PM." The words "underwear party" were in English, and there was some explanation in German. The bar was so small that I couldn't imagine having much of a party there, and the room in back looked like only a small storeroom. But the nature of the sign --- hand-lettered --- made it seem very unlikely that it was advertising a party at some other locale.
Well, I didn't explore the matter any further. When I left, one of the people --- the woman, I think --- said, "Auf wiederschauen." The substitution of this for than the more normal "Auf wiedersehen," made me think, "Well, Frankfurt is in southern Germany after all."