Monday, June 20th, 2005
Holy shit. I had heard people talk about the German Autobahn but I never really paid that much attention. It gets my attention today. I hop on the A5 right out of Frankfurt Flughafen telling myself I'm going to take it easy, first time driving a motorcycle in Europe, etc...and I do (for about twenty minutes). After I gas up at a highway truck stop (21 Euros @ 1,234 EUR/liter = 17,02 liters = 4.5 gallons @ 4,66 euros per gallon, fucking hell it costs me less to fill my car in the States), I start getting annoyed at pulling over to the slow lane to let everyone by. Especially the guy in a plumbing van with a ladder on his roof going 110 mph. A plumbing van? Are you kidding me? That's the last straw.
To play this game you have to ante up 100 mph minimum. That's just keeping up with traffic. You see a little spec in the rear-view mirror, glance away for a second, then glance back and you've got a Porsche or a Mercedes crawling up your butt flashing their lights for you to get out of the fast lane. I end up making the drive from Frankfurt to Basel (206 miles) in 2.5 hours, and that includes a number of work zones where the speed drops way off. So much for taking it easy. Guess I had to take out the aggression I was feeling after getting the bike back from Lufthansa, more on that below.
The day started out innocently enough. Train from Basel to Frankfurt Flughafen direct = 98 CHF. Left at 7:12 and arrived at 10:06, exactly as advertised. Acela anyone? Really quite easy travelling. Train drops me off in the airport, catch the P65 Extern bus to Tor 25 (about a 10 minute ride). I trade my driver's license with a cool old guy at Lufthansa Cargo for an electronic card that lets me into the cargo area. Get another bus to building 451 Lufthansa Import (5 minute ride).
I give my air waybill receipt to the guy at the counter + 17 EUR for storage and I get back my title plus a customs form. Go across the hall to customs and a really nice customs agent checks my papers and gives me the stamp. Nice customs agent? Not quite what I was expecting. Next down the hall to cargo retrieval. Someone in line shows me how to fill out the security form, then the agent behind the desk tells me to wait while they get the pallet. 10 minutes later out comes Greta strapped to a pallet and cocooned in plastic. All that and they still managed to smash the front right side of the fairing. The agents give me an insurance claim form with a damage report. I'll have to chat with the broker to figure out how to make the claim. The fairing is still holding together but if it gets knocked over I think she's done for. I get an escort from the forklift out of the hanger, follow a truck out through the gate (it almost gets me on the way down) and I'm back at security trading my visitor's pass in for my license.
This entire process takes place in German. I didn't realize I could speak that well but I guess I had never been in this type of situation before with Germans who don't speak English. When I was working in Paris I used to speak German with clients but with them I could always fall back on French or English in a pinch. Not so at Frankfurt airport's cargo area....
The ride back to Basel was hot as hell and I'm beat. Finally met up with Jeff and see Jeremy again. Sarah with a dog named Shogun she picked up in Japan. Poor thing is dying in this heat. I'm too tired to visit long, back at Franck's for dinner and a café. I park the motorcycle on the street below the appartment. Not too worried about it, we are in Switzerland after all.