We again flew into bright sunshine this time to Frankfurt on the 13th September and on the way in had a good view of the city. We stayed in Raunheim about 1/2 hour from the airport by shuttle bus. A bit rich calling it the Mercure AIRPORT hotel! but otherwise it was a good hotel and it was a nice 15minute walk to the “S” bahn station to get the train into the main station and then out to Frankfurt Messe – to the Automechanika trade show. Maurice was observant on the way to the station and found 45euros on the pavement with no one else in sight so that wa a nice surprise for us but not for the person that lost it.

We caught up at the Messe with a few of our ex suppliers from Sydney and it was nice to see familiar faces from Australia. The “Messe” covers an enormous area with many enormous pavillions and with the usual German efficiency was very well set up. Some of the companies in setting up their stands and bringing people in from al lover the world and promoting their goods spent over 3/4 million euros for the trade show. Included in the entrance ticket was free public transport to and from the Messe which was a bonus. Raunheim is a nice little village with lots of pubs and restaurants so we had excellent meals the three nights we were there – German, Italian and Lebanese – on different nights of course!

Since leaving Italy and the heat behind we have not been drinking much water I suppose because of the cooler weather. In the afternoon at the trade show I felt very faint and so we wandered off to the first aid station which was closed. Maurice went and found someone and before I knew it I was carted off by ambulance with paramedics to their clinic in the Messe (they wouldn’t let me walk much to my embarrassment) and after having every check done including EKG’s and calling the doctor in, they pronounced me in excellent health only lacking in water. Never having felt that way before did give us a scare but as soon as they had plied me with a litre of water and had me resting for 1/2 hour all was well again. We have since been drinking copious amounts of water and therefore searching for toilets every 1/2 hour!

I went into Frankfurt the next day while Maurice went back to explore the other pavillions at the trade show. I managed to find myself a nice pair of boots which I had tried to obtain in China but there they only laughed at my shoe size. At least here in Germany a 41 shoe size is not laughed at!

Frankfurt shopping area was full of people being a Saturday and had the usual number of beggars on most street corners holding their cups and others with cats or dogs or a goose! sitting next to them to tug at the strings of animal lovers. The other rort we have found on a few occasions is that someone comes up to you and says he is going to catch a train to a certain place and he is short one euro to get his ticket. I guess it is a novel way of begging but sad to see. We have also noticed that the people here in Germany going through the bins for the recyclable drink bottles and cans are better dressed than in other parts of Europe or Asia.

On Sunday 16th on another bright sunny day, we caught a very comfortable train to Dollern which with one change took us about 5hours.  Dollern is a very small town about 1/2 hour south of Hamburg and it was nice to see some old friends that I had last seen 17years before when I took my mother to Europe. Dollern is in a particularly pretty part of Germany with the (“Altes Land” – Old country) nearby where the very neat ancient houses are beautifully and ornately decorated with very instricate wood and brickwork. It is also a major cherry and fruit growing area and very close to the Elbe where from the dykes you can watch large ships moving up and down the canal. The apple and pear trees were laden with fruit and we met many tractors pulling bins of fruit to their storage places.

We met up with four generations of the family and Helga the great grandmother is 77 but looks 60 and does everything in the house and garden and still mows the lawn and clips the hedges. She is a powerhouse, drives extremely well and really enjoys life. We had the attic appartment which has been beautifully furnished to ourselves and we felt right at home for the five days we were there.

We had a wonderful stay with her and caught up with the whole family and other old friends there on several occasions.  We took Maurice for his birthday to a very good fish restaurant and he had a special treat when we went to the viewing platform at the airbus factory which is nearby. There were two Emirates A380’s on the tarmac as well as many others so it made his day.

We had a few drops of rain while we were in the car but otherwise we had bright sunshine every morning and exceptionally dry weather for this time of year and were able to go for long walks around the area and along the dykes on the Elbe river and into Stade a larger town with a lovely small harbour and ancient buildings.  It was cold in the mornings but our heavy coats were even a bit too warm. They will probably fine for when we get to Scandinavia.

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