April 2024
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Sunday In Germany: Frankfurt – Ken’s Summer Prattle.

By Ken Yeager

As I write this, there are 24 days left in the U.S. Government’s fiscal year.  That means that I am in Frankfurt helping to send your tax dollars in support of the U.S. Department of State and numerous other Government agencies stationed outside of the U.S.A.  It also means that in 25 days I will be headed home, home being Grosshansdorf, Germany where my lonely wife awaits me.

I arrived back in Frankfurt on July 5th, having driven down in a rented car loaded with all of my stuff…I cannot live out of a suitcase for three months….I need my STUFF.  The following weekend I went home by train (the DeutcheBahn’s Intercity Express – ICE, the Germany equivalent of the Japanese Bullet Train, but much slower), spent the night and rode the motorcycle back to Frankfurt.  This time, instead of using the Autobahn I decided to enjoy the secondary roads of Germany….Unfortunately, it was one of the hottest days Germany had experienced in decades…it was like driving into a hair dryer set on high.   Very uncomfortable and my poor behind was sore from almost eight hours in the saddle.

My time in Frankfurt is spend mostly at work signing Purchase Orders, reviewing draft contracts, preparing purchase orders, getting price quotes, and filling out a multitude of forms required by Congress to track how the Government spends its money. Some days are a bit boring but most are busy, if not doing my own work, helping some with theirs.

The office I work in is A/LM/AQM/RPSO-F or in plain English Administration/Logistics Management/Acquisitions/Regional Procurement Support Office – Frankfurt.  Cool, huh?  We are between 24 and 28 people, depending if everyone is present.  We are always gaining or losing one or two people through retirements, transfers, marriages, deaths, etc.  One of the admin assistants is getting married in November and will move to the U.S. to join her Air Force husband.   Three people are due for retirement in the next few years, I’m leaving, not to return, and of course, the American Direct-Hire staff transfer every three to four years.  It is a real international office made up of one Scot, one H.K. Chinese, one Brit/Jamaican, one German/Pakistani, three locally hired Americans, one Irish, one Greet, one Serb, one Kosovarian(?), one German/Ethiopian, one German/Tanzanian,  three Filipinos, three Brits and the three U.S. Direct Hire staff, one of which is a naturalized Brit.  Great office to work in.

My accommodations are in the CSA Hotel (Community Support Association) which is located inside the walls of the consulate (looks like a prison from the outside and feels like one on the inside).  There are armed guards on the gates and a roving foot patrol.  During normal business hours, one just needs to show appropriate identification to enter the consulate grounds but after normal hours, one has to sign in and out (pretty much discourages bring in a lady or gentleman friend if one was so disposed).  The hotel is OK and for long term stays such as mine, more comfortable that a normal hotel room.  I have a living/dining room, a small kitchette with oven, a two-burner stove, refrigerator, sink, dishes, pots and pans, flatware and a mish-mask of kitchen utensils (never the same in each room – really odd).  I have a small bathroom with a shower and a bedroom with closets and the whole place is air conditioned and windows screened (normally not available in German hotels).  I get breakfast with my room and of course, the office pays for the accommodations.  There is also a small store in the hotel where one can buy various food items, mostly all U.S. products and all something easy to fix.  Keeps the short-term TDYers (temporary duty) from the U.S. happy…those than cannot live without US junk foods.  They also sell some limited amounts of booze and I usually stock my bar at home with a couple of bottles of this and that.  I usually eat breakfast in the hotel, lunch in the consulate cafeteria and fix sandwiches in the evening.  There is a decent Italian restaurant not from the consulate as well as two grocery stores.  There is even a McDonalds within easy walking distance – not for me (ate in a Burger King a couple of weeks ago when on a motorcycle run…horrible).  Public transport is close by, both bus and underground (U-Bahn – actually mostly it’s above ground).

I think I’ve been to downtown Frankfurt three or four times since I got here in July.  I’ve been there so often over the past 10 years, nothing is new anymore.  When I do go I like to hit good shoe, tie/belt and clothing stores.  One hears little German downtown.  I read once that every third person in Frankfurt is a non-Germany.  Was downtown this weekend because there is a wine festival going on.  Nice to go to different stands and have a small 0.1lt glass of this wine and that wine, plus eat at various food stands.  Can be very pleasant.

So what do I do on the weekends?  Well, the weekend of the 20th I took a train to Bad Tölz where my wife was visiting with some friends.  We left together to Munich where she got on her train to Hamburg and I returned to Frankfurt.  The weekend before than I did a nice long motorcycle ride south of Frankfurt, hitting an areas that I haven’t visited before.  This past weekend I did another solo ride, this time along the Mosel and Rhein rivers.  Almost 450 kilometers with 8.5 hours saddle time.  Long day but very nice weather and great scenery…I love looking at old castles and manor houses.

I mentioned earlier that this would be my last summer in Frankfurt.  Gisela has asked me not to accept any more work.  Six summers alone is enough, she said.  Yes, the money is good, but we will manage without it.  Enjoying each other during the summer is also important and we need to try to do some short trips.  I’ve only been to Berlin one and that was in 1980-81 for New Years Eve and it’s only a short 1.5 hour train ride away.  Plus there are several short motorcycle trips we want to make – days trips, a couple of overnights.  Plus, I am now 66 and being fully retired sounds good.  Will even try to get in a few rounds of golf despite the cost.

And that, my dear friends, is my summer in Frankfurt, which is not yet over.  I know, some are saying, oh how he des prattle, but hey, I’m bored tonight…why not bore you too.

Have a good evening.  Ken

3 comments to Sunday In Germany: Frankfurt – Ken’s Summer Prattle.

  • Sarah J Rogers

    Fun hearing about your summer Ken. Interesting how Frankfurt to you, is ‘just another place I’ve been many times’, and I remember it as a wonderful place to someday visit again. I guess I could say the same about places in Hawaii where many would love to visit!
    Being 66 is great!!Me too.

  • Guest

    A nice place to visit in Frankfurt is the Henninger brewery. This white 120 metre-high silo was built in 1961 by the Henninger brewery to store barley. As such, it is the tallest brewery in Germany. 761 steps lead up to the viewing platform which offers fine views of the city and the surrounding countryside. A restaurant is located in the tower along with a small museum devoted to the history of brewing. The Henninger Turm is also known for the yearly cycling event in May, this contest is called Rund um den Henninger Turm and top cyclists participate.

  • Kenneth R. Yeager

    Been there, done that…the wife and I visited the tower years ago when i was posted in Frankfurt and still in the Foreign Circus..whoops, I mean Foreign Service. Much has changed in Frankfurt in the past 20 years or so since the US military left. Almost all of the building that the military owned, had built or occupied have been torn down and replaced with modern structures, not just in Frankfurt but in lots of former military towns. The old I.G. Farben building where there was a major military HQ is now part of the Goethe University complex. I am sitting in the former 97th General Hospital which is now the American Consulate Frankfurt. All of the housing units that were in this area are GONE. Very few structures remain. I think many of them contained materials that were toxic and had to be removed. The motorcycle is home now an I will be too in two weeks. I made the 535km ride in 4hours and 50 minutes. You figure out the average speed. My TomTom said my top speed that day was 161kms an hour, a touch over 100mph. All on the Autobahn. After this year, Frankfurt will be history for me. No more summers in Frankfurt. Wife wants me to stay home and that sounds like a good idea to me. Ciao and have a good Sunday. Ken

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