Last night I watched ‘Lapland Odyssey (2010)‘ (Finnish, subtitled in English). It reminded me a little of The Hangover (2009): three buddies on a mission to help the one who’s in trouble with his girlfriend.
I was intrigued by the movie’s snowy landscapes, and the flashes of Northern lights in the sky. Some scenes feature Rovaniemi, the capital of Lapland, in northern Finland.
The town was virtually destroyed during World War II, but today it’s a modern little city billing itself as the ‘official’ home town of Santa Claus (it has a Hotel Santa Claus), and for viewing the Northern Lights.
I unpacked my bags today, and started going through my mountain of junk mail.
It’s bitterly cold on the East Coast (Boston at -6 °F/ -21°C), and frozen iguanas are falling out of the trees in Florida. Zoologists say they will ‘thaw’ again and come back to life. Here is Seattle it was a balmy 49°F/ 9°C today, with rain.
I missed my connection to Seattle. We left Frankfurt way too late. High gusting winds (across Europe today), delayed our departure by 50 minutes. Then upon arriving at Heathrow’s Terminal 5, we spent another 20 agonizing minutes on the tarmac, waiting for a gate to open.
As soon as I got off the plane, I made a run for it. There was still 10 minutes to spare to the Seattle departure time, but no-no-NO! – not enough time, they said at the security check point, stopping me. (Why is there another security checkpoint for connecting passengers? Maybe it’s a United States destination thing only.)
So now I stood in line at the British Airways counter for 40 minutes. Re-booked my ticket to Thursday. Exiting through passport control took even longer. One ‘crosses’ the UK Border into the UK (big bold letters at passport control). By the time I made it to the airport hotel it was four hours later. But hey! Today is done, tomorrow is another day, and I will have another shot at making it home.
7:00 am My bags are packed! I am taking the train back to Frankfurt this morning.
Shortly after twelve noon I will board British Airways to London, and then on to Seattle from there.
11:00 am I made it to Frankfurt Airport .. but Deutsche Bahn made me sweat a little. My original train was delayed by more than an hour, and then the rebooked train was late as well. Then my phone’s British Airways app said ‘Sorry, missed connection’ and I thought Oh no! the flight to London must be completely delayed. But no, there was on problem – it was just that the app could not find a network to connect to.
I spent some time in Rheinauhafen (‘Rhine old port’) today. It is a former port facility on the Rhine*, now rebuilt into modern condominiums, offices and commercial buildings. A Microsoft office building was completed in 2008, the main condominium building in 2009, and most of the other buildings a few years before that, or a few years later.
*Cologne is the largest city on the Rhine. Here in Cologne it is the Nieder-Rhein (the lower Rhine).
It rained this morning, but it cleared up later, and warmed up to 12 °C (54°F), which was a welcome change from Friday night.
I walked around the Neumarkt area, and Rudolfplatz, and went into a few stores, seeing that most stores close down on Sunday, and Monday, for New Year’s Day. Here are some pictures from Friday night and Saturday.
Hey! I made it into Cologne. It was snowing lightly as we landed in Frankfurt. The snow had started to stick to the tarmac, and the de-icing trucks were just fanning out to go clear any layers of snow or ice.
The intercity express train from Frankfurt to Cologne made short work of the 118 miles (190 km) from Frankfurt. The trip took only 50 minutes. These trains travel at speeds up to 186 mph (300 km/h)!
I arrived in Cape Town! The connection in Charles De Gaulle airport involved a long walk to the departure gate. I didn’t mind: good to get one’s circulation going after sitting in an airplane. And, I could check out some of the better insides of the departure terminal (which was not the case last time).
There are signs everywhere in Cape Town airport, and at the overnight hotel, that implore visitors to save water. ‘Every drop counts’. I will try to.
My movements on Monday were curtailed by persistent, soaking rain! I postponed my trips to the Geldmuseum (money museum) and Schloss Höchst (castle Höchst) until my return stop here, and spent some time in the Galleria Kaufhof, a classic department store with seven floors.
It seems the ravages of Amazon has not yet hit Germany, or at least not this store in particular. The store is a great experience, and besides – total square footage of department stores in Europe is roughly half that of the square footage in the United States. So: they may be safe for now.
I made it to the Frankfurt Christmas market on Sunday night. The biggest one in the city is at the Römerberg, the public square in the old town, and seat of the Frankfurt city administration since the 15th century.
It was cold! .. but by evening the snow had stopped. Later, when I was already back in the hotel, a heavy downpour of rain later washed away just about all of the snow on the ground. I hope the stalls for the Römerberg vendors stayed dry inside!
I arrived in Frankfurt without incident. I had a short connection stop in Reykjavik (clear, 26°F/ -3°C). On the plane, we waited just a little bit for other connecting passengers, and to get the all-clear from Frankfurt. Snow was starting to fall as we arrived in Frankfurt at noon (32°F/ 0°C).