- -  Day # 362  + +

EU > Germany > Frankfurt Main

Destination unknown

Frankfurt Main, DE (View on map)

Beside being the financial capital of the European Union, Frankfurt is also one of the main air traffic hubs of the continent. Frankfurt International Airport ranks third in number of passengers, with only London Heathrow and Paris Charles de Gaulle having a higher passenger turnover. Thanks to the holiday season, today is one of the busiest days of the year at the airport. Thanks to the Us Europeans project, I now finally have a reason to ask people something I always wonder about when I am visiting airports.. What are they there for and where are they heading?

Stefan (18):

`My favourite plane is the Air Canada Triple Seven`
The only airport where I asked this question before was the one in Prague, which compares to Frankfurt as a village to a city. Prague only offers a handful of intercontinental flights a day, all of them heading to the United States. The average plane size at Prague is that of a Boeing 737, while Frankfurt is packed with Jumbojets and other wide-body aircraft. Frankfurt connects all corners of the world.

The Americas
Katarina (28) and Albrecht (28) are waiting for a flight to Arizona. `We go there to study for one year. Our university in Leipzig partners with the one in Tucson. We both prepare for becoming a teacher of `German as a foreign language`. It may sound strange for Germans to travel to the United States to learn German, but we are very excited about it`, Katharina says. Albrecht explains that he is not scared of the year ahead. `For now, I mostly feel hungry and tired, and a bit stressed. But also happy that our flight is not cancelled, even though Lufthansa was threatening to go on strike today.`

Hugo (19) from France is also flying to the United States. `Me and my family drove from the North-East of France to Frankfurt and parked the car here. We are flying on Delta Airlines and I am very excited. I have been to the United States once before when I was small. On this three-week holiday, we will stay in New York for 3 nights, in Las Vegas for another three and the rest of the time in a rental car driving around California. The dollar is quite cheap these days, so it`s not even very expensive to go on a trip like this.`

Helmut (27) and Margerita (24) will fly to Isla de.. Margerita with a group of friends. `That`s close to Venezuela`, Margerita explains. Helmut is happy to tell me about the purpose of the trip, which will include a lot of partying and drinking. `The bit of Spanish I speak should be enough to get us by`, Margerita says. `It`s a package holiday anyway, so there will not be much to worry about.`

Africa and Australia
Carolin (22) and Robert (30) from Bayern are the only one of today`s respondents who are heading for Africa. `We are flying to Hurghada`, Caroline explains, `and then head for our hotel/resort. The main purpose of the holiday is just to relax, but I hope we will also be able to make an excursion to the faro-city of Luxor. Sea-diving would be nice too, but we haven`t got anything planned. The main idea is to catch a lot of sunshine.`

Catching sunshine is also what Sylvestre (20) was thinking of when he packed his bags for Newcastle in Australia. `I only just realised that it`s winter over there and as it turns out, it was snowing in Sydney yesterday. My bag is full of T-shirt and short trousers..` Sylvestre is originally French but he lives in Berlin. `My parents, brother and little sister live in Brussels and it was too much hassle to travel together. I will spend the 24 hour trip on my own and it will be a very long journey. This is my first transfer. I will have another on in Hong Kong and then I need to catch a minibus in Sydney to finally get to Newcastle.`

Sylvestre will stay in Australia for one month. `My uncle lives there and I will help him out with some graphical design stuff for his French bakery. I am happy that my parents can afford to pay for the flight, because otherwise I would not have been able to make it.`

Philip (29) is also leaving East. He`s going to do an internship in Beijing. `I will fly there with Emirates, so I have to change planes in Dubai. The internship will be in international trade. I have been to China before, thee months, but just for travelling not for work. This time, I will be there for two months. I didn`t learn any Chinese and am not planning on learning more than a couple of polite expressions. I do think it`s worthwhile to create a network of local contacts. China is the place to be at the moment, especially for people who studied logistics ? like I did.`

Philip enjoys flying but he does not like the stress of getting to the airport, waiting in line and hurrying up to get to the next place: `My day started quite early today. My first flight was from Hamburg to here. The whole package was surprisingly cheap by the way. 448 euros for the return!`

Christian (30) is not a big flying fanatic. With 10 hours of flying ahead, he tells me that plane crashes he has seen on TV can sometimes stress him out. `I`m traveling to Beijing today, together with a group of colleagues. We work for German TV and we will report about the Summer Olympics. My job is to do the cutting and editing. Quite exciting, although I am worried of whether the Chinese authorities will try to get a say in what we are and are not allowed to broadcast.`

More Asia
Daniel (25) from the UK is waiting for his connecting Aeroflot flight to Moscow. From there on, he will take a domestic flight to Novosibirsk. He is not scared of flying with the Russian state airline. `I know they had a very shaky reputation in the 1990s. Now, the international flights are like any other international airline. Domestic flights can still have their little surprises. The interior of the planes usually looks really bad and it happened to me once that the crew told us that we had landed in Novosibirsk while we had actually arrived in Irkutsk. They were not aware that we would make a stop on the way. I have also been on flights where there were more people than seats. Oh well..`

Daniel got interested in Russia when he first went there a few years ago. `I was part of a Baptist community and they wanted to send people there. I ended up living there for 2.5 year and falling in love with Russian culture. I learned myself Russian and started reading Russian literature. During this edition of my Russia adventures, I will be working in a book shop and assist the local Baptist church with their activities.`

The city of Novosibirsk is not very exciting city. It only started to be constructed at the end of the 19th century. For a long term, it also served as a prison camp. The buildings are mostly grey and very similar to each other. It looks very similar to almost any Eastern European city before 1990.`

Daniel was not sad to leave England. `Everytime you go away from your home country, the barrier becomes smaller. This is not the first time I go away. I experienced a bit of emotional stress maybe, but it`s not a big shock either. I don`t know when I`ll come back to England but I`m fine with that.`

Staying behind
Anni (17) and Louisa (16) did not come to the airport to take a plane. `We are going to Croatia with a group of friends, but we are a bit lost and can`t find the bus we`re supposed to take.` Boris (30) is waiting for his sister and her husband: `They are coming back from a honeymoon in Cuba. They have been away for only two weeks so it shouldn`t be too much a problem to recognise them. Maybe they are a bit more tanned than when they left.`

Mareike (19) is not taking off today either. `I am from Landau, near the French border. I haven`t been to Frankfurt airport before. I flew to Rome once, but that was from Baden Airport. I`m only came to Frankfurt Airport to say goodbye to my friend. She is leaving to the United States for one year, where she will work as an au-pair.`

I meet Stefan (18, photo) at the panorama terrace of Terminal 2 (access 4 euros, no liquids and pocket knives allowed). Stefan tells me that he likes planes and has a miniature airport at home. `It measures 3x2 metres and slightly resembles Frankfurt`s terminal 1. I have about 50 planes on a 1:500 scale, all made of cast metal. My favourite one is an Air Canada Boeing 777. It reminds me of a trip to Canada, and I like the design as well as the model.`

Stefan enjoys spending time at the airport. `I don`t know many people with the same hobby. My friends prefer to spend their time playing video games or doing other stuff. I often go to the panorama terrace for some plane photography and I like to do the same at other airports when I happen to get to one. I don`t know the destination of each and every plane, but I can at least tell the airline from the logo and also the country or origin. I do not specifically plan to see this and that type of airplane, but I have seen quite some exciting ones passing by over time. Today there`s a Boeing 767-300 of Star Alliance, which is quite exceptional. I also remember once seeing a Delta Airlines plane with the `Habitat for Humanity` design or the `Gulf Air` machine in Formula-1 style. I also saw the Airbus 380 when it first landed at Frankfurt Airport, but it was too far away to get it properly photographed.`

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