Frankfurt Day 2

Wed, 27 Aug 2008 18:41:00 +0000

Frankfurt Day 1 Index Frankfurt to Warsaw

The decision to spend two full days in Frankfurt despite, for example, devoting less than 24 hours to Swaziland, might reasonably be described as "insane". I plead exhaustion: it's been a long time since I've spent time somewhere as sensible as Germany, the engineer's equivalent of a two-hour candlelit bath, with pink bubbles. Compounding the insanity, what does Mat decide to do after spending five weeks in Africa of all places, without making any effort to see any wildlife whatsoever? Go to the zoo in Frankfurt, of course.

So off I went. Frankfurt's zoo is right in the city centre, on the other side of the main shopping street from the hostel. It's surprisingly good, considering the constraint of its inner-city location. They've just opened a new great ape enclosure, and I'm very impressed. They have quite a collection of gorillas, orangutans, and bonobos.

They also have a little digital display ticking down how many great apes are left in the wild. I was pleased that they had incorporated the latest unexpectedly good news about gorillas, that they've found the Congo population a lot healthier than anyone thought. I spent most of the day at the zoo, had a beer and some lunch while watching the baboons.

I had some stuff to sort out with my Chinese visa. This turns out to be a lot more problematic than I expected. The Chinese embassy in London now requires you to make an appointment online before you can apply for a visa, and the earliest date they had free was the 3rd of September. Given that my flight is on the 5th, that's going to be extremely tight. I hope they have an overnight service. I made the appointment, but I think I'll try to apply in Warsaw as well, see if that works quicker. I'm also informed by the people offering the course that if I arrive on a tourist visa on the wrong passport I might "have difficulties" changing to a student visa later. It's not clear if "difficulties" means a couple of hours queuing, or being summarily deported. Whatever. At this stage I'll do whatever it takes to get to Beijing, up to and including being welded into a shipping container if necessary, and sort it out when I get there. By the time they get around to deporting me, the course will probably be over anyway.

For dinner I headed to an Ethiopian restaurant I'd spotted near the zoo. I last tried Ethopian food in Jerusalem, and felt that I'd almost got the hang of it, so I thought another go would be appropriate now. After Africa, I'm a lot more comfortable eating with my fingers. While I still make a fair mess, the crucial difference now is that I don't care. A very successful meal.

So that was Frankfurt, and while it's a nice enough place, it certainly is about time I was moving on. Tomorrow, Warsaw.

Frankfurt Day 1 Index Frankfurt to Warsaw