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Frankfurt August Miscellaneous

August 29, 2004

(Written October 10)

Dear Families and Friends,


Sometimes I struggle with keeping up with diaries. No, it's not that we are much busier than anyone else, nor, I think, that we do many things needing more than a simple record. It's just that even a simple record takes time. When we are home, there are always more important chores (sound familiar?) Consequently, Marianne and I have taken this weekend to catch up by going away to Obernai in the Alsace region of France. The weather has worked out perfectly: it's dull, gray, and rainy so we are not tempted to run around getting more pictures added to our backlog. So, here's the catch-up:


Frankfurt Street Fair


Every summer, Frankfurt holds a fun street fair, which celebrates something or other, I not sure exactly what. This year the weather was perfect and we wandered our little home town and remembered again, Frankfurt is NOT just an airport.


Mostly there are crowds. The foot bridges over the Main and the streets along the river banks ("Ufer") are filled. The Frankfurt Mainuferfest may not be world-famous, but there are enough local folks to make it a fun day (and night, so we are told.)
As with all fairs we've seen in Germany, a main attraction is eating. Pots boil with all sorts of concoctions.
This particular fair celebrates the Main river and a center of attraction is the traditional Chinese long-boat races. I'm not sure who thought up this particular even, but it manages a great image of amateur racers straining to the drumbeat. As near as we could tell, everybody won - based on the observation that everybody seemed to celebrate after every race.
Even the a principle road crossing the river was closed so pedestrians could move easily from left bank to right bank and back again. By the way, Frankfurt downtown is on the right bank and our home neighborhood, Sachsenhausen, is on the left.
Our side of the river holds many of the local museums and, for the Uferfest, the grounds are filled with all sorts of fair activities, including live music. The group on the left played reasonably good Bluegrass or a sort of Deutsch-Dixie Jazz, while seeming to ignore each other. The other group sang American Folk and Rock classics as if they were reliving Woodstock, the first one. Maybe they were.
Among the handcrafts, the best may have been the collection of African goods. We keep hesitating about buying things from somewhere we've never visited -- so, I guess we'll have to go. Sometime.



In Kiev, we had very few visitors because, let's face it, Ukraine isn't on-the-way anywhere and, as a rule, it's not a tourist destination. Frankfurt, however, is a European crossroads and we manage to have a few friends pass through.

Marianne's godson Spencer was our first August visitor. He was on a self-guided Eurail tour of Europe and we were glad he put us on the itinerary. He was a fun guest whether it was sitting around home, touring Frankfurt museums (especially the Film Museum) or driving along the Rhine.
Next came Ovilee, one of Marianne's long-time gang in California. She and her friend Gary were going on a bicycle tour in southern france, but they arranged for Frankfurt to be on-the-way: another fun visit that included a mandatory stop at the Saturday street market and, of course, an outdoor meal or two.


Other Tourists, Trips, and Purchases


Rounding out this what-did-we-do-in-August (and early September) are a few shots of normal weekends. I suppose we could take notes of the weekdays too, but how many pictures of offices (or classrooms)does a person need to remember?

Our big challenge for the end of the summer has been bicycles. We've talked about it for months, you know: exercise, health, all that stuff. One Saturday we went to a huge bike store that was celebrating it's 100th anniversary. They helped us select bikes and, the next weekend, we started our exercise career.

We did OK, sorta. The riverside paths were nice, but a bit crowded. When Marianne fell twice, I think she was traumatized. The experience also weakened my original resolve to ride to work too so we may have to wait for 2005 to be our year of learning to ride.

Marianne also started school again at Rhine-Main Airbase. While keeping her company as she fixed her classroom, I went (again) to the Berlin Airlift museum and took yet another picture. I wonder what will happen to this monument when the base closes next year. Come to think of it, I wonder what will happen to us when the base closes.
While the sun was still shining, we took our own visit up the Rhine. After a very pleasant lunch, we looked for the required Rhine castles and then returned home, going out of our way to use the ferry. This particular river crossing was another reminder of why the Rhine has been such a European dividing line, even modern boats seem almost overwhelmed by the current.

Finally, our new purchase. After three years with our two-seater car, we've added a "family car" to our stable. We ordered this Audi "allroad" months ago and, by mid-September, it was finally delivered. It's our Eurpean-sized SUV, complete with a V-8, all-wheel drive, and adjustable road clearance. I actually look forward to seeing how it handles in snow!


So, that's catching up. I hope you looked only at what interested you because, like always, we don't want to force our record on you -- but we would welcome you forcing YOUR record on us.


John and Marianne


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