I was told by the service representative at the Frankfurt Airport that this made a lovely story, so I’ll share :).
I arrived in Frankfurt on a Sunday, and thought hey why not go to an international church? From my time living in Eastern Europe, I realized that international churches are great places to meet English speakers and fellow Americans. So, after a near 2-hour adventure, I arrived at the church just as the service ended and everyone was enjoying refreshments. Perfect timing! In my defense, I did try to make it for the service.
I met a lovely English/German lady that we’ll call Sara who immediately started telling me the best places to eat and find entertainment in the city (which you can read about in my article, A Day in Frankfurt). As our conversation came to a close, she remarked what a beautiful day it was and since I already came to Oberursel (read German Suburbia), it would be great to visit Feldberghof, a hilltop restaurant and hotel overlooking the city. Sara and her family kindly offered to drive me to the bus stop.
Before I could think about it, I was packed like a sardine on a standing room only bus to Feldberghof. As I looked around at the abundance of German travelers with snowboots, sleds, and jumpsuits, I started to think my Converse, wraparound coat (sans scarf) and jeggings were a bit on the skimpy side. As we moved through mind-numbing traffic and picked up one chilly traveler after another, I began to reconsider.
Further up the hill, I started to think How could she do this to me? I tried to reassure myself that Sara meant well as the noonday sun transformed to darkness and snow.
Once I finally made it to the Feldberghof restaurant, I waited in a short line of travelers. The host grabbed and seated groups that averaged 5-10 people. When it got to me, he smiled and wiggled while saying in German that I should “get in where I fit in.“
The place was packed with German families from Frankfurt enjoying a day in the snow. I found a seat next to a German family who gave me the death stare when I placed my things in the seat next to me—they were saving for a friend. I was soon joined by a family of three, two boys and their father, who unbeknownst to him, would serve as translator for the duration of our meal.
The staff smiled and yelled what I can only imagine was we’re coming to take your order! several times before actually coming to take my order and that of the family next to me. I had the most delicious schnitzel and fries, which I hoovered without anything to drink.
Finally, time to pay…and this is where the story begins! I handed over my credit card to an enthusiastic—Nine! Eurokarte! (German for No! European card!). I told them I don’t have one.
I was asked another 3 times between two staff members if I had another card before the host (who, at this point, I gather was also one of the owners) suddenly found his English and asked why I didn’t have cash. I pointed to the credit card machine on a table nearby and explained that I assumed credit cards were accepted when I saw it (especially since Sara mentioned that it’s a popular tourist spot).
They asked, What can we do? So, I suggested, How about I come back tomorrow and pay? I finished my food, provided them with my contact information and my hotel information, and promised to come back the next day.
They smiled as I left, but I don’t think they believed me. To the always organized and prepared Germans, this was a huge no-no. The owner patted my arm on my way out as I apologized and reassured him that I’d return the next day.
Enter the Frankfurt Airport customer service staff member. Staying at an airport hotel nearby, the airport was the closest metro stop. I made my way to the customer service counter and explained my story, to which the representative replied And you’re actually going to go back and pay?!?! Feldberghof was a 2+ hour trip from the airport. I remembered how to get there, save the number of the bus I took.
On an even colder day, I ascended to Feldberghof for the second time. The devil on my shoulder whispering the entire time, Fuggedaboutit. At this point in my trip, I was sure that I would never return to Germany (the reason why is for another post!), so it seemed it wouldn’t matter. Fortunately, good beat out evil that day. Finally to Oberursel, the bus is right there. But, nooooooo. Suddenly it’s driving away. I find a young kid (always your best bet for an English speaker) and asked if that was the bus to…he finished my sentence. That was our bus, and it just took off without us. The next bus would be here in an hour.
Eureka! The local tourist center. I’d wait in there until…Wait, it’s Monday. It’s closed. Everything in the vicinity is closed! My cold feet eventually flagged down a cab (a decision I would come to regret later on in my trip), and I paid for the most expensive 10-minute cab ride in my life.
When I finally made it to Feldberghof, I found a much smaller crowd. Half of the restaurant was closed off and I couldn’t find a familiar face from the day before. Finally, I spotted my waitress and greeted her with a friendly hello.
In return, she gave me the So What? Stanley stare…
I first handed her the receipt, then the cash that I owed. She smiled, said bye, and that was that. I’ll spare you the details of the next hour I waited at a snow-filled bus stop for the bus down the hill. You can view a video I made while coming down the hill from Feldberghof.
The moral of this story is I had Euros with me at any given moment for the rest of my trip—1 euro coins, 2 euro coins, 100 euros conveniently broken into 5, 10, 20 and 50 euro bills. And when a shop owner shook their head Nine to my BofA card, I smiled and proudly handed over my euros.
A huge thank you to the staff at Der Feldberghof for trusting me to return to pay for my meal!