German General Weirdness

I’ve had an odd 24h in Germany so far. It’s mostly been experienced here in Frankfurt (am Main, nicht am Oder).

My first issue, and one I’ve had all across Europe, is that they have NO LAUNDROMATS in Germany. The hotels charge you a fortune ($3 for a pair of socks!) but the hostels will do it all for free.

Here’s another bit of weirdness: mobile phone data costs 220+ times here what it does in Poland. Now how does that work?! Germany is supposed to be a technological leader and yet the state to their east (whom they consider backward) has one of the cheapest and most reliable data networks I’ve found. In Poland it’s 0.02 PLN per 100kb on Heyah. The cheapest I’ve found here is 0.01 EUR per 1kb. And that is using my Irish SIM card! Other rates seem to be around 20-30 Eurocent per 1kb. It’s only $0.02 per 1kb to use my AT&T card from home.

Let’s talk logistics. I was trying to get from the Frankfurt (am Main) Hbf (train station) to my hotel last night. I took a cab because it was 3mi away and I was tired and it was late. I asked the cab driver if he knew the Sheraton at Lyoner Str. 44. He said “Yes” and so we went off to circle the Hbf a couple of times. 15 minutes later I figured the guy was lost when he pulled into the Radisson. Everybody knows that’s at Franklinstr. 65. But after I corrected him we were back on our way. Another 15 minutes later (and after having passed the Hbf again) we were at the right place.

Now tonight I was at the same place trying to get back to my hotel and, wary of the cabs, I decided I’d take the S-Bahn. Well I knew I wanted to head to the Niederrad stop so I went to the ticket machine and looked for it. It’s not there. Huh, that’s weird. So I went to the map on the wall to make sure of the spelling and on this map they spell it as F-Niederrad which makes sense when you consider that it’s in Frankfurt. OK, so now back to the ticket machine to find it. Still not there. They have F-Ndr-am Edulching Str. and F-Nieder-Frankensense and F-Nieder-Umlat, but my stop is nowhere to be found. So I wandered into a bookstore and, upon finding an English version of a Lonely Planet Germany book, researched how to get around in Frankfurt, thus doing a service to my gender the world over by not asking. It turns out that since Niederrad is in zone 50, you just have to get a Einzelfahrt Erwachsene ermassigt and you’re all set. Then you can get on the S7 to Reidstadt-Goddelau, the S8 to Wiesbaden Hbf (by way of Russelsheim and not Darmstadt Hbf obviously) or the S9 to Weisbaden Hbf (although it only runs once an hour) from one of the 28 platforms from which they may depart and you’re practically there already. How silly of me to miss such an obvious thing.

When I got up to get off the train (picked a winner the first time, surprisingly!), a German guy of about 25 who’d been laying across several seats with his sunglasses on began shouting. At nothing in particular, just kind of yelling in general. Some people said he must have been drinking. Some simply stared. I just hoped the door would hurry up and open because he was laying very close to me with his shoes off for what must have been the first time in a month. Going down the stairs off the platform some guy tried to stick his foot out and trip me. Why, I couldn’t say, but he did. And talking to himself all the while.

With just a few more yards (or meters) to go before I reached my hotel I noticed Polezi motorcycles coming down the street in motorcade formation, with each rider racing to the next street to cut off traffic. I didn’t see any limousines or anything but then I started hearing a noise and seeing a flashing light like it was a biker with a helmet (not Helmut) mounted light. It wasn’t a biker, it was 3 roller bladers. And behind them followed about a thousand. Just out for a midnight rollerblade. So I stood and watched the procession as they passed – I could hardly do otherwise as they were obscuring my path.

Germany’s a weird place, man.

About Beau Woods

Beau Woods is a cyber safety innovation fellow with the Atlantic Council, a leader with the I Am The Cavalry grassroots initiative, and founder/CEO of Stratigos Security. His focus is the intersection of cybersecurity and the human condition, primarily around cyber safety, ensuring connected technology that can impact life and safety is worthy of our trust. Over the past several years in this capacity, he has consulted with automakers, medical device manufacturers, healthcare providers, cybersecurity researchers, US federal agencies and legislative staff, and the White House.

Posted on April 21, 2009, in Europe and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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