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Five Elements Hostel in Frankfurt near the train station

Posted at:24 July, 2015 in Ambassador Blog

July 20 (cont’d)

Germany is a very ‘cash’ oriented country.  Credit cards and debit cards are not normal ways of paying for anything…

… If you find a bank machine, you should probably use it at once, because when you need money again you are unlikely to find one.  I was starving at Berlin Central Station but I only had 20 minutes before my train was to depart.  I spent 15 of those minutes walking around looking for an ATM, 3 of those minutes spending €0.79 of the €0.90 I had in my pocket on the only thing I could afford in a bakery which gave me a dry piece of bread with a piece of melted cheese on it, and 1 minute rushing across the platform to get to the train…the doors closed nearly as soon as I was on the train and we were off.

I wrote on my laptop nearly all the way to Frankfurt, and got off the train in central station.  Frankfurt is not a beloved city at all.  When I was telling people that I would be stopping in Frankfurt the general response was indifferent facial expressions followed by, “Uhh, and what are you going to do there?”  As a result I was fascinated by the city.

When I walked from the train, through the station towards the exit, there were a lot of people in suits and women dressed in snazzy business attire.  That was expected.  Then I walked out onto the street and immediately smelled someone smoking marijuana.  ‘In the street?  In Frankfurt?  In the middle of the day?  What?’  That was unexpected and my mental preconception would have never guessed such a thing.  I was sure Frankfurt was far too straight for that.  Then as I was walking down the street I came upon the red-light district.  I had not considered that either.  But of course, ‘Business Suits and Prostitutes’ *  I walked past a place called ‘Sex Inn’ and as I was wondering to myself how clean the hotel is a woman in a doorway made eye contact with me and said, “Nice guy!  Come in!” while pointing inside.  I told her, “You are right!  I am a nice guy!” and kept on walking.  It is hard to shake the ‘nice-guy’ label tag…  Even madams recognize it…

In only about two minutes, I had found more color in the Frankfurt than I would have expected to find in 24 hours.

The Five Elements Hostel is very easy to find and is a hostel in Frankfurt near the train station; easy to get in and out.  I entered the reception area to find Julian at the desk.  He was very friendly and asked me how long I was staying.  I told him one day, but that I wanted to see something cool in Frankfurt that would make it unique.  He gave me a rundown on a DIY tour and sent me off to a traditional restaurant called Atschel where I ate a schnitzel with Frankfurt locale ‘Grüne Soẞe’ (green sauce) which is made out of approximately seven different herbs.  It was delightful and I chased that down with Apfelwein, which is a customary unsweetened apple wine that helps define Frankfurt.  It was more food than I could handle for €13.  Germany is great.  The prices are good and the entire country is so diverse from place to place that every new city is a new cultural adventure.

Grüne Soẞe’ and schnitzel.

Grüne Soẞe’ and schnitzel.

I walked around the city, crossed bridges, climbed seven flights up Zeilgalerie to see the city skyline, and made it back to Five Elements Hostel three hours later just in time for the social of the evening.  Frankfurt has the biggest airport in Europe.  Because of this, it is a transient city of people coming and going.  Julian told me, “Frankfurt is either the last place people are before they are leaving Europe, or it is the first place they arrive when they land in Europe.  Our job is to give them a great lasting memory of their time Europe, or a great first impression of Europe.”  So, in the evening, Five Elements Hostel has a social event for every night of the evening so that everyone can make friends and there are no lonely travelers.  Five Elements is also perfect for travellers because it is a Hostel in Frankfurt near the train station!

I think I like Frankfurt.  It is a city that no one seems interested in and that in itself makes the place interesting.  It is sort of an underdog.  Of the people that I have talked to who live here, they all make it seem like it is their secret little gem, and they love their city.

A crew of us ordered a beer and went to sit in a circle on the back terrace.  I named it ‘The Circle of Friendship’ because everyone had to tell where they are from and one crazy story.  It is a great ice-breaker with everyone.  My favorite person of the night was a girl in a wheelchair from Melbourne named Alex.  I am very impressed by her bravery for tackling the world like she does.  Her crazy story was, “Well, I went to Munich.  Someone carried me up three flights of stairs to a bar and I do not remember how I got down.”  That made everyone laugh….

From the back terrace, we went one by one into the hostel to make crepes: the Monday social event.  The result of all of this gives Five Elements Hostel a very good vibe, and everyone I spoke with liked the hostel.  The casual Latin music in the background is a nice touch to help with the cause of the relaxed atmosphere.

Five Elements Hostel.

Five Elements Hostel.

Strange Fact

I met a girl in the hostel who told me that she just got back from the Falkland Islands.  She was in the military there.  She said that there are 2,100 people living on the Falkland Islands and there are 2,500 British military there to keep it safe.  That seems like a losing investment to me….

As the night progressed, a pub crawl was organized and we walked to Old Town in a group of about 40 people.  We sort of took over the other half of a club, and the solo bartender had his hands full.  The pub crawl stayed for two drinks and then carried on.  I hung out in the club when they left for another beer and then had a nice walk home alone at 1am to take pictures of the city from the walking bridge.

* I came up with ‘Business Suits and Prostitutes’ about 6 months ago and thought it would make a great song title.  But, reality is that I am probably not going to get around to writing a song, so the title is up for grabs.  Just send me a message if you use it because I would like to see what you have created.

July 21

Six hours of sleep and awake before my alarm.  I seem to be developing ‘old man’ hours.  I just don’t feel like I am ready for them!

Frankfurt night skyline.

Frankfurt night skyline.

I went on a walking tour of Frankfurt to see what I could learn about the city.  Here are some city points of interest:

-500,000 people a day arrive or pass through the Frankfurt.
-60,000–70,000 employees work in the Frankfurt airport.
-When Germany was quartered after the Second World War, Frankfurt was in the United States sector.
-The US brought tobacco and chewing gum to the area.  The people were very excited to have these.
-With the US army stationed here came prostitutes.
-It is said that prostitutes could be paid for in chewing gum, and if a lady chewing gum was standing on a corner, you could guess her profession without looking at her clothing.
-The Red-light district of Frankfurt is today run by the Hells Angels.
-There are three streets in Frankfurt where prostitution is legal and it is taxed there.  It is a $550 million industry annually.  Social workers are available for the prostitutes.
-in 1995 Frankfurt made it legal to consume drugs, but illegal to buy or sell.  As a result, ‘Legal Consumption Drug Houses’ were created to keep drug addicts off the streets.  In the Legal Houses, there are rooms for people needing them for sleeping or consuming.  There are also therapists available for users.

I went back to Five Elements Hostel in Frankfurt near the train station  for a fantastic all you can eat breakfast that lasts until noon.  Orange juice, muesli, eggs, bread, jam, vegetables, yogurt = perfect rocket fuel for your day.  Once I had packed it in to me, I made my goodbyes to Julian and headed to the train station.  I had to make a mandatory seat reservation for the train to Paris so I left 45 minutes early to tackle the hassle.

The station was full, and I had to pick a number to get to the desk to see someone about the reservation.  I pushed the button on the machine, it spit out my ticket and I compared it to the present number.  Great.  Only 60 people away…  Eventually my number was called.  I asked the lady at the counter about the seat reservation.  She confirmed it was mandatory with my Eurorail pass, so I asked her the price.

Her – “€30.”
Me – “€30!  Three-zero or one-three?”
Her – “Three-zero?”
Me – “For the reservation or just the ticket?”
Her – “Just the reservation.”
Me – “How much is the ticket?”
Her – “Around €400.”
Me – “Oh my…  Ugggh.  I have a month long rail pass but it is €30 to use it…  Well, I have no choice right?”
Her – guilty ‘I know it sucks’ smirk.  Brings up the price on her credit card machine.  Put my credit card inside.  It turns my hard earned money into an extra payment.
Me – “Ugggh.  I feel dirty, like I just got raped here…”  She makes me sign the reservation with her pen.  I autograph a swear word instead of my name.  I gather my tickets and reservation slip.  I gather my pen that I had on the counter and her ‘DeutschBahn’ pen.  As she points at it I say, “I am stealing your pen for that….”
Her – (laughs at me) “Okayyyy.”  She smiles at my audacity as I smile at her.  I leave her counter and make my way to platform 19 where the train hauls me to Paris, a 3:50h trip.

I met a man on the train from Frankfurt to Paris who was Elvis’ paperboy when he lived in Las Vegas.  He ended up in the military in 1986 and has been all over the world fighting wars.

He said one day he will write a book called, ‘Whatever Happened to Elvis’ Paperboy’ and he will tell his story since those days.  It is one of the greatest book titles I have ever heard of.

 

Five Elements Hostel in Frankfurt near the train station
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