Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Cool Trip on the ICE Train (A'dam to Frankfurt)

Cool Trip on the ICE Train (A'dam to Frankfurt)
06 September 2004

The flight from London to Amsterdam was uneventful. I arrived in A'dam Schiphol and went directly to the Sheraton which is right in the airport. I had stayed there two years ago when I came up from Italy and really had a great stay. This way I didn't have to drag more luggage downtown and then to another hotel to do the bag-drag again when I left on Monday. The rooms are nice and it is quieter than you might expect it to be considering it is attached to the airport. I don't think that I ever remember hearing an airplane while I've been there.

Dropped the luggage off at the room and headed down to the train station to catch the train to Centraal Station in downtown. It's only about a 20 minute train ride. Walked from Centraal Station past Dam Square and over to Leidseplein again. I thought that the Hard Rock was there, but I was wrong. It was already too late in the afternoon to start wandering around A'dam and getting lost, so I made my way back to the station and headed back to the hotel.

Grabbed a burger and drink at Buger King at Schiphol and took it up to the room. I figured that since I had a bathtub in this room, I was going to enjoy one last bath, so I drew up a bath. Started catching up on the news again for the first time since leaving Iraq. This whole Russian school thing is unbelievable! If the Chechins think that they are furthering their cause, soliciting sympathy for their cause or gaining any respect for the Muslim causes worldwide, they might want to consult a new public relations rep at this point for some new world-friendly activities!

After speaking with any number of Europeans about the Muslim question in their countries, it seems quite the popular belief that all that is being accomplished by Europe's Muslims currently is they are segregating themselves within the European population and insuring themselves of never being fully accepted and integrated as Europeans. The appearances are that a small minority is causing problems while the silent majority doesn't stand up against the activities of the wrong-doers. Europe seems to be drawing ever-closer to a boiling point. This is where I think the U.S. has been much more tolerant. But the Europeans also subsidize their immigrants much more than we do too, so maybe that accounts for some of the frustration when you look at their tax burdens and what they get back from their governments. Enough politics for now!

Got up and out of the hotel by 930am. The Intercity Express train to Frankfurt was leaving by 10 am. These new (new since I was stationed here 17 years ago, at least) ICE (Intercity Express) trains are the bomb! At several points in the journey between Cologne and Frankfurt, this bad boy was cruising at about 310 kilometers per hour!! We're talking, screaming through the countryside. Next thing you know, the train is pulling into Frankfurt HBH (Haupt Bahnhof-Main Train Station) at 2 pm.

Got a taxi over to the Frankfurt Intercontinental, only to find out later that it was only about four blocks away. But with all the luggage and all, I wouldn't have walked it anyway. Nice hotel, but the surrounding area is a bit mmmm...Middle Eastern. But wait...I get to know the neighborhood more intimately in the following paragraphs!

So I get al checked in and settled into my room and I'm trying to log into the internet to check my mail...no connection. The front desk verified that it is available in my room, but still no go. So I'm thinking that maybe the LAN cable on their interface is messed up and maybe I just need a new LAN cable. I didn't bring one with (duh!) and so I went down to the desk to see about getting another one.

I get down there and they look at me like I've got two heads when I ask for a LAN cable. No clue! Okay, where might I find an electronics store nearby that I could buy one? Got directions and a map to Elbe Electronics on Elbe Strasse maybe .5 km away. Well, I'm walking, walking, walking down Elbe and no electronics shops. Let's see...Pawn shops, dancing girls, peep shows, sex appliance stores, prostitutes, but no electronics shops. I go a little deeper into the abyss known as Elbe Strasse and the Polizei are arresting and questioning prostitutes and johns. But wait, there's more! Three cars up from these police, I'm walking past a drug addict sitting on the curb between the cars filling his needle with some amber colored juice and then he injects himself!! Okay, Scenic Tour is over! I've seen more of Frankfurt than I wanted to see.

I get back to the hotel front desk and all of my fluent German comes back to me as I spew out in German, "Ha, Ha. I'm quite amused at the scenic tour you arranged down Elbe Strasse. Now can we get my computer connection working?" You know you only remember that much German when you are either drunk or really pissed off!

Finally, the front desk mental midgets direct me to Andreas, their in-house business center guru. He works his magic by changing an IP address number (which I would have had no idea of or access to otherwise) on my computer and in five minutes, I'm up and running. The whole meaning of getting up on email has been to check if my old Air Force buddy Hal (located here in Frankfurt) has sent me an email to meet up with him today!
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