After visiting my great-uncle’s grave at Henri-Chappelle American Military Cemetery, we were right on track to return the car in Liege and take a train to Frankfurt, the only one without connections. In other words, we shouldn’t have had to change trains. That didn’t happen, and it was a bad sign. From what I could ascertain, A problem with another train meant our train ended in Koln, and we had to change trains…after an hour and a half wait. Ugh. This put us into Frankfurt after dark. Double ugh.
We opted to take a taxi to the hotel (only 5 or so blocks from the station) because we didn’t think finding anything in the dark after a long day was likely to go well. We arrived at the hotel to a fantastic receptionist, piled our suitcases in our rooms, and fell into bed.
I should mention here that I had a total of 12 euros cash at this point because my stupid bank (Chase) wouldn’t give me my PIN code except by physical mail. That’s right. They would change my password, authorize a wire transfer, and pay bills electronically, but send a 4-digit number via text or secure message in an emergency? That would break national security protocols. I also went to five banks to try to get a cash advance from my credit card and was turned down. They only do cash anything through the ATM.
Why am I ranting about this? Because for three days I worked on trying to get cash to pay for an apartment I had rented. I’ve been to Europe before with a credit union debit card and got cash. Surely it would work with one of the two Chase cards I brought. Right? Wrong.
Finally a friend in Paris offered to send me money via Western Union. Neither of us had ever done it before, but we figured no time like the present to learn how it worked. She looked into it, and lo and behold I could actually send money to myself. How slick was that? Okay, so the transaction fee was steep, but it beats sleeping on the street.
Note to self: Leave Chase at home and bring all the cash you have to have with you, at least when traveling internationally.
We probably could have muddled through with no spending money, but I had to give up an apartment and lose a day of vacation and find a hotel at the last minute (no easy task during Oktoberfest) because I couldn’t lay my hands on cash in time. Plus, it was just plain stressful. So, here’s a big boooo for Chase.
We spent two days touring Frankfurt, including a boat ride on the Main River, a tour bus, and the old fashioned way -on foot. My dad doesn’t walk fast, think the butler from Arthur, but he’s covered a few miles and done pretty well, overall.
1. We found an exceptional German restaurant at the end of our street. Let’s see how much weiner schnitzel we can eat while we’re here!
2. The beer is good. I’m no beer drinker. At all. But you know, when you’re in
Rome, Germany, do as they do. Besides, there’s not much bottled water here. Funny story, my dad tried to order Belgian beer, and the bartender deadpanned, “We only sell real beer.” Turns out the Germans have strict standards for the ingredients of their beer. The Germans strict? Never occurred to me.
3. The people speak good English almost universally. We had a few frustrating conversations in Belgium, which speaks French. I could do some basic words, but nothing in depth.
4. The Germans have been over-the-top nice. Belgians were friendly, but in a cool French way. You kind have to experience it to know what I mean. They’re not rude. They just mind their own business really well.
5. The weather has been great. Cool but not bad. Windy here in Frankfurt but not continually.
6. We’re having a good time. My dad isn’t like Chevy Chase in the Vacation movies, but he’s made enough comments that I think he’s having fun. I’m trying to balance the sightseeing with enough downtime for him to recuperate. No sense in burning out too soon.