Trip Start Jul 20, 2011
19Trip End Aug 07, 2011
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Where I stayed
Five Elements Hostel Frankfurt
Read my review - 4/5 stars
Read my review - 4/5 stars
Coming back to Sofia, I had a bit of a Bulgarian Bucket List - the UFO Monument at Mount Buzludzha was a big miss, but there were still a couple of small things back in Sofia I wanted to cross off the list before leaving. The Archaeological Museum and a coffee at Sofia's beautiful City Garden were taken care of yesterday and with a few hours before the flight to Frankfurt, there was just enough time to do a free tour of Sofia and to grab a bite on Vitosha boulevard, one of the posher areas in town for a meal, drink, shopping, whatever
Before I knew it, my time in Bulgaria was done, and my plane was touching down in Frankfurt. A visit here is generally disappointing, because it invariably marks the end of a trip; this is my fourth time passing through (two other times don't count, as I was merely changing planes at the airport), and every time it's been the same drill - get off a plane, head to a hostel, maybe grab a bite for dinner and go for a walk, sleep, wake up, kill a few hours, and then head for the airport again. Frankfurt is the type of place that everybody passes through because of business or transport logistics, it's not really a place that people stay for an extended period of time.
Chatting with the receptionist as I checked in, she noted that nearly all guests either start or finish their trip in Frankfurt - it is one of the biggest European transport hubs, after all. My friend Emilie, who had moved her a few years ago, told of how she had stayed at this very hostel for five days when she first arrived, while she hunted for a more permanent place to live
My feelings toward Frankfurt have always been ambivalent; as a visitor, it's actually a decent place to spend a day as there are some worthwhile sights. But you can only find so many things to occupy yourself when it's your fourth time visiting ... after a while, it starts to feel a bit ho-hum, and I never seem to look forward to coming here. Of course, there's always a bright side to flying home from Frankfurt - getting a cheap flight on a charter airline usually means flying through London or Frankfurt, but the London flights generally depart for Calgary on a Saturday. Flying via Frankfurt means heading home on a Sunday, effectively scoring yourself another night of travel - for that reason, I do actually appreciate having to visit Frankfurt ...
However ... today was different, as for the first time, I couldn't wait to get here. Why? Because of one reason - Emilie! The backpacker life is a funny one - one of the biggest draws is all the people you meet, even knowing that you will never again see or interact with 99% of the people you encounter. It's fun, it's exciting ... but even better are the 1% of people that you do remain in contact with, because instances where you truly connect with other travelers are rareFive years ago in Croatia, I met Emilie and Aude, having a blast in Split, a beautiful city on the Adriatic coast. It was definitely one of the highlights of that particular trip, and actually one of the highlights of any trip I've ever taken, for that matter.
Clicking like that with people you meet makes it all worthwhile - the long flights, the hot and nauseating bus rides, the exhaustion ... they are easily forgotten after experiences like that. Later that trip, we were able to meet up in London, where Emilie was studying for a year, and also several months later when I once again passed through London. Over the years since then, we've tried on a couple of other occasions - a few years ago when I passed through Paris, where she's originally from, and last year when I stayed in Frankfurt for the third time. Sadly, we were never successful, a fact which we both rued after finally meeting up tonight, but we also realized that all the effort and time makes tonight even more worthwhile.
As amazing as Bulgaria was, tonight was definitely the highlight of this trip - it still astonishes me how you can randomly meet somebody years ago, hardly communicate with them during that time, and then sit down and chat like you've been friends forever. It's also interesting to see how the course of somebody's life can change so much over the years, and also see how little other things have changed
There are so many incredible aspects to travel - breathtaking sights, epiphanies, unforgettable moments ... but what can trump them all is a night like this. Good conversation, good food, good friends, good times ... merci beacoup à Emilie et Jean-Antoine pour tout, à bientôt!