Molly on the Main

Day 1 - Friday, May 24

Friday, May 24
Highlights

We arrived at Frankfurt airport, retrieved our bags and made our way to the Sheraton. (Had to do a little shuttle up an escalator at one point to move the bike bags to the upper level, where there was a walkway directly from Terminal 1 to the Sheraton.)

Checked in around 8 am and got a free cup of coffee and strategized. Asked the Guest Services where we might assemble our bikes, and they suggested a back hallway with no through traffic. It took much longer than either of us expected. I had trouble getting the rear wheel seated, and Steve had several adjustments with his handlebars. Finally, around 2 pm we gathered all our stuff together, asked for storage of the bikes and bags and were able to go to our room and to shower and nap.

At 5 pm, we got up, dressed and took our bikes our for a test ride. I noticed immediately that I needed brake adjustments on the rear. I had essentially no braking power in the rear, and that must be fixed before we add the panniers and the full load.

We rode a pre-planned route from the hotel out and to the east around the Frankfurt airport. The only confusing part of this was the first three blocks from the hotel, being a tangle of ramps and one-way taxi lanes. A woman spotted us and ask if she could help. She gave us excellent directions and also mentioned that the large parking lot ahead of us had a very good bike repair stand, equipped with various tools. We didn't see it on the way out, but we found it later.

Once we found the bike path around the airport, it was easy sailing to the eastern observation point (a cool place to watch incoming planes.) It was a good vantage point and there were a couple of men there with fancy cameras waiting for a good opportunity to catch a photo. Not more than 50 yards from the observation point was a memorial to the Berlin Airlift. We were disappointed to find that the fence around it was locked, even though the sign posted there said it was open until 8 pm, and it was only just past 6. We took photos through the fence of the two static displays of aircraft there, and the sculpture of the "Berlin Luftbruecke," the twin of which is installed at Templehof Airport in Berlin. Also on exhibit was a chunk of the Berlin Wall. A sign at the installation posted this information in German:

"Berlin Airlift From 26 June 1948 to 12 May 1949, the trapped Berlin population was supplied with vital goods from the air.  The Douglas.c-54 "Skymaster" planes were brought here from all over the world to Frankfurt am Main, so that the Allies were able to fly around the clock soon after the start of the Berlin Airlift  If this failed, they had to turn things around and, from today's perspective, the ‪Airlift‬ was a logistical masterpiece: in less than eleven months, a total of 349 aircraft had a total of 2.37 million tonnes on 277,264 flights  From Frankfurt, food, coal and gas were shipped to Berlin, which remains the largest airlift in history."
From the monument to the Berlin Airlift, we crossed the Autobahn on a bridge leading into the woods toward Zeppelinheim and the museum there. We knew we were already too late to visit the museum that day, but we wanted to see where it was located. After leaving the bridge and gliding down a short incline into the woods, wewere suddenly in a very quiet place - except for singing birds and the almost distant sound of the airport. We were not more than 1 km from the Autobahn and airport, yet it was very tranquil. The homes in the little suburb there were very charming, and we bicycled by a small beer garden next to the railroad tracks. The locale was named Terminal 4 and had several patrons sitting at tables under the chestnut trees.

From Zeppelinheim, we reversed our route and turned back toward the airport, this time riding past our starting point at the Sheraton and continuing to the west end of the airport and into the neighborhood there. We were searching for a Greek restaurant on the edge of a fishing pond outside the village of Kelsterbach. We had mapped our way to the restaurant but found a shorter way as we were riding and deviated a little from our plan. We knew we were close to the place when we found the small park adjacent to the restaurant, but because we weren't completely sure of our direction, we stopped to check our maps. ,

A bearded man riding a bicycle came along, and struck up a conversation immediately, complimenting us on our bikes and on the bright red flashing lights, which he said were "like the police." We asked him for directions to the establishment we were seeking, zum Anglersheim, and he didn't seem familiar with it. He told us that he was Croatian, so he didn't know all the places in the immediate area, but he did know a place that was once a Croatian restaurant and it was cheap but good food. We also learned that he thinks Donald Trump is a good thing and that the Chinese are ultimately going to control everything, and it will all be under communist rule. We thanked him for his suggestions and then turned around and found our way to the Greek restaurant.

It was a charming locale - again, on the very doorstep of one of Europe's busiest airports but nestled in a quiet wooded spot on the banks of a fishing pond. The gardens were about half full of other guests, and we took our place at a table outdoors where we could watch our bikes. The food was good, and the host was very kind, making us feel very welcome. The beer, a Binding pilsener, was so refreshing that we each had two.

After dinner, we navigated our way back out of the woods just as dusk was falling. We retraced our steps back to the airport and the Sheraton, this time finding the repair station in the big parking lot near all the spaghetti junctions at Terminal 1. I had planned to go up to our room and fetch the needle nose pliers so I could tighten the brake cable when we got back to the hotel, but when we found the tool station, despite it being dark and 10 pm, we completed the repair right there, and I was much happier with the way my brakes are working.

Back at the Sheraton, we checked our bikes in with Guest Services, and headed up to our room, with Steve stopping at the bar along the way to get a glass of cognac for us to share. Tomorrow, we need to pack up all the stuff we'll be carrying with us for the next couple weeks, check our bags at the Sheraton's Guest Services, and catch a train to Bayreuth.

I'm alway nervous at the start of a trip like this. Will the bikes work after we put them back together? What if something got damaged in the luggage handling and we can't fix it? What if we can't find our way out of our starting point? Will we get lost? Will the traffic be too intimidating? We have found that the short "test rides" (we rode only 13 miles today) help build our confidence, not only in navigating our way in a foreign country but in feeling comfortable with our equipment and communicating with others. A couple of pilsener beers building confidence too, but probably only for the short term.

It is past midnight here, so I am going to stop. Check back here later for some photos.


Steve enjoys coffee after our arrival at the Sheraton.

Molly's suitcasee with stuff she will repack in the pannier, including a little "Bambino di Praga" figure that often travels with us.

The Bambino was a gift to Molly from Prof. Mathias Sprinzl, from Bayreuth. He shares a special appreciation for the Bambino and said this token is supposed to protect travelers.

Steve takes a break from assembling his bicycle in a back hallway at the Sheraton.

Signage on the bike trail around the Frankfurt airport.

American airplane at the Berling Airlift memorial at the Frankfurt Airport.

A marker at the Frankfurt airport, noting the distance to Berlin.

"The Raisin Bomber" which took part in the Berlin Airlift.

Molly at the Luftbruecke Memorial It was closed even though the published opening hours were until 8 p.

A section of the Berlin wall at the Luftbruecke Memorial.

An Emirates airline Airbus 380 comes in for a landing at the Frankfurt Airport. Molly is on the bicycle on the bbike trail which goes around the airport, and the Autobahn is to the right.

Not far off the bike trail around the east side of the Frankfurt Airport is a trail leading to the Zeppelin Museum in Zeppelinheim.

We enjoyed dinner at the zum Anglerhiem near the Frankfurt Airport.

A refreshing cold pilsener.

We accomplished a little late-night bike repair at this bicycle repair station on the grounds of the Frankfurt Airport.