When we first arrived in the Netherlands we raved about the location of our new home. Breda is an extraordinarily pretty city, the people here are friendly and gracious (with the, possible, exception of a lady at the city hall and one rather unfortunate haemorrhoid suffering vet). We are on the doorstep of so many magnificent cities; we can drive to France, Italy, or Switzerland in a few hours. We can fly back to the UK in sixty minutes, or visit practically any destination that takes our fancy from Schiphol International, Europe’s largest airport.
|Paris or Venice or Frankfurt!|
Mr Sunshine, needed to see a friend and Frankfurt, it seems, is about equal distance from that friend’s home and ours.
So, dizzy with the thought of an adventure, we booked Alfie in for 24 hours at the doggy respite centre, hire a car from Budget Rentals (anything above 35mph in our own dear vehicle turns the passengers into juddering earplug wearing marionettes) and packed our best, rather tight, going out clothes.
The odd facial tick and involuntary arm jerk warned me that Mr Sunshine was still coming down from his Masters high, and in no fit state to take the first shift at the wheel. So, in an attempt to earn some brownie points I offered to drive. For those of you that have never driven a right hand drive car be warned it is not as easy as it looks. Patting your head with one hand and rubbing your tummy in a circle with the other, is a reasonably close description of the sensation. According to Mr Sunshine I was in constant danger of hitting the curb. I noticed my eyes spent dangerously long scanning for the mirror. These were minor inconveniences compared to my door swinging open every time I tried to change gear.
After some rhetorical discussion I convinced Mr Sunshine to let go of the dashboard and I continued with the drive. The long motorway/autobahn drive to Frankfurt was unremarkable, apart from one fact: it circles the longest city in Germany. From the moment we entered the Deutschland autobahn I started seeing the signs for this long city. Mr Sunshine even looked up once or twice from his ‘Zombies R Us’ magazine to comment irritably its ridiculous size.
|Every junction had a sign for this city|
Six hours later the Satnav led us into an abandoned subterranean car park, where we parked, rather foolishly, next to a 1970’s orange and black Mustang and walked out into Harlem. We partook of several more rhetorical discussions while trying to locate the Best Western Hotel.
‘Let’s ask somebody where the hotel is.’
‘Let’s look up here’
‘Can we go home?’
After walking gingerly over the dried vomit littered streets we finally found the hotel under a busy flyover. Trying not to be downhearted we consoled ourselves we the thought that wine and the good company of friends would soften out our first impressions of Frankfurt. And I expect it would have, if the receptionist hadn’t informed us that, not only, had our friends not arrived but they weren’t even booked in.
|Best Western Frankfurt|
Mr Sunshine stormed off to our room muttering 'typical', and I felt that familiar guilty question lurking:
Is it my fault?
Several hours later we discover those friends were, actually, booked in the same hotel, just not in the same city.
At which point I thought longingly of that extraordinarily pretty city I’d been so keen to escape and wished to see another one of those signs for Ausfahrt.
|Translation for Ausfahrt.|