FRANKFURT AM MAIN

Our Latest Adventure, by Rich Paschall

Frankfurt , Germany, or Frankfurt am Main (Frank ford at the Main), is the fifth largest city, but home to the busiest airport in the country.  This is not only because it is home to Lufthansa airline, but also because many other airlines have major presence there.  Almost 65 million passengers pass through the airport each year, making it the busiest airport in Germany and the fourth busiest in Europe.

There are many direct flights to Frankfurt from major US cities, so finding a flight at good price and transit time is possible through most of the year.  If you are visiting Germany or a neighboring country, you will want to consider this airport.  Bus and train travel around the region is quick and economical.

Frankfurt

In the past when we have headed to Strasbourg, France, we have used the Frankfurt airport for its proximity to our destination.  Only once did we stay overnight near the airport with a brief stop in the city.  We had considered the city to be just a financial center, which it is, and an industrial center.  This time we stayed longer to explore the city.

I chose an airport hotel because we could easily take the shuttle back to the airport where you can catch the train into the city.  Looking back on this choice, however, you can pick a spot in the city for the very same reason.  Transportation by train to the airport is simple because of the major train station right across from the airline terminals.   If we would do it again, I would try to stay near Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof station.

Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof

The main station in the city is a mix of old world charm and modern efficiency.  Upgrades to the rail system in recent years have upset the reputation of the German railroads always being on time, or “you can set your watch by them,” but they are still reliable and we encountered no delays.

You can stop at McDonald’s in the train station if you like, but we did not come all the way to Germany to eat in an American fast food restaurant.  Our motto for travel has been “eat local, drink local” so of course that is what we did.

Eat local, drink local

My travel companion on this trip, who is always hungry, needed a food stop when we arrived in the city. We chose a restaurant right alongside the station for convenience.  We ordered Wiener Schnitzel.  My friend is from Colombia so he has never eaten food like this.  He found it goes well with the local beverage.

Fortunately, the old world train station survives and is a good spot for pictures before you head off on your exploration of the city.  Plenty of tourists were busy taking pictures of the station and surrounding areas.  I took a picture of my friend getting a picture of himself.  “Selfies” are popular at all the tourist stops.

Selfie

Frankfurt is a unique blend of old and new.  I suppose that World War II is partly a reason for that.  Some areas of the city were heavily damaged. Somethings were restored, other areas were rebuilt. This allowed for modernization and planning that would improve the quality of life for residents and eventually tourists.

There are many good shopping districts and we made our way to one of them to see what bargains we could find. The outdoor malls our popular and we picked up some items I probably did not need.

Shopping (or selfie taking)

We also stopped by the Alte Oper (Old opera) to see the lovely old building.  It was heavily damaged in the war and carefully rebuilt through the 1970’s.  It opened again in 1981 as a concert hall.  The opera was already in a new building nearby.

The large plaza in front and along side is a nice stop for locals and tourists.  We took the necessary pictures before stopping inside.

I joined a few “friends” for an opera house picture.

Following our walk around the Opernplatz, my hungry friend needed food so we made our way to the cafe inside the opera house.  It was ornate as expected.  Aside from the modern elevator in the building, it was hard to determine which parts were damaged and restored and which parts of the building were original.

Opera cafe

Berlin, Hamburg, Munich and Cologne are all larger and may hold more appeal for various reasons, but Frankfurt has a charm all its own.  With the Main River running through it and a large city forest, it is beautiful tourist stop.  If your flight takes you to Frankfurt, it would be wise to spend a night or two to see the culture and entertainment offered here.

A blend of old and new

For more pictures from our Frankfurt Adventure, jump over to Sunday Night Blog, here.

WHEN ADONIS CALLS – Rich Paschall (A Reblog)

A Modern Opera, a review

It is likely I would not have gone to see a local opera company had I not already been familiar with the work of the poet, Gavin Geoffrey Dillard.  After all, I have seen plenty of opera at the Lyric Opera of Chicago and plenty of local theater.  But this has an intriguing premise that was too good to pass up.

I first encountered Mr. Dillard in the late 1980s.  I was looking for a book of poetry that was well reviewed and actually contacted him at the publisher.  I found earlier works as well as later and even exchanged correspondence with the author.  His poetic style is unique, varied and always interesting.

Originally the librettist, John De Los Santos, had proposed an opera based on Dillard’s autobiography, In The Flesh.  Dillard countered with the idea of an older poet with a bit of writer’s block, and a younger one who becomes his muse.  The idea came to him as he had been in correspondence with a younger fan/poet over a certain length of time.  They exchanged poems just as the characters of the opera do.  The opera, however, is not a telling of that, but rather uniquely original.

De Los Santos constructed the work in 5 sections.  A couple of collections of older works of Dillard provided the voice of the muse/younger poet, while more recent works provided the basis of the older poets words.  De Los Santos advised that he was able to put the pieces together in just five months.  You will find that remarkable if you are lucky enough to catch the show.

Director /choreographer/librettist John De Los Santos approached composer Clint Borzoni for the music.  At first, he was unsure of the project but got rolling as the words suggested to him the music.  He has crafted a work that would be challenging to the seasoned professional.

Dillard with Kistler (left) and Wilson (right)

The two young men who provide an entire full-length opera in the Chicago production are up to the challenge.  Jonathan Wilson plays the poet while Nathan James Kistler is his muse.  They are always engaged and engaging.  The time moves quickly when performers keep your attention on the storyline.  Like any good opera, the company projects the words above the performance area.  This is particularly helpful with the unique work of Dillard.

The story is aided with the interpretive dance of Jay Espano and Christopher Young at various moments throughout.  For their purposes, a larger stage would have been helpful, but they manage well nonetheless.

Thompson Street Opera Company’s production at the Broadway Theater at the Pride Arts Center is the second production of the opera.  It premiered at the Ashville Lyric Opera in May 2018.

Finally, don’t be put off (or turned on) by the Opera Company notice that there is full male nudity in the show. It lasts about 3 seconds on a darkened performance area and the lights go out quickly.  If you see anything at all (I didn’t), then I suggest you have probably seen such things before.