Tuesday, October 11, 2016

2016 Tour of the Alps: Mainz to Steigenberger Airport Hotel, Frankfurt Am Main

In the morning, I took the scenic route to the Gutenberg museum and got there about 15 minutes before it opened. This wasn't bad, as it turned out that the museum was right at the center of town, and where the thrice a week market was, so I got to watch the stalls open with colorful fruit and vegetables. The architecture near the museum was pretty as well!
There was a sculpture of Gutenberg (made from imagination, since nobody actually knew what he looked like), and I couldn't help taking a picture of someone reading next to the sculpture of books and odes to the printed page.
Once the museum opened, I went in and had a look. It's a pretty impressive place, with various printing machines of all sorts, and even covered the Chinese printing industry, which were way ahead of the West at the time. While most of the machines were labeled as "please don't take pictures", the basement had a demonstration of the original Gutenberg printing process, and next to it were machines such as the original Heidelberg, which had no such prohibition.
Once I had my fill of printing, it was time to head back to the apartment, load up my bike for the last time, and ride once more across the Rhine.
German bike paths are not very well marked, and once again I found myself on the Rhine bike path for a while before realizing my mistake and then switching to Google maps to find the Main bike path. The ride along the Main river is pretty nice, and indeed would be an ideal beginner's tour --- it's well graded, has lots of facilities, and if you don't mind it being a little boring, it's not bad.

Near Kelsterbach, I ate my last bit of cycling food and rode off the bike path in search of the Steigenberger Airport Hotel. I started using Google maps for navigation and discovered to my delight that it routed me off pavement into the forest roads that I had used so many days ago when leaving for the train station near downtown. Only when I was obviously near the hotel did I ignore the directions and headed directly to the hotel lobby.

I had arrived at the hotel at noon, but the receptionist informed me that checkin was at 1:00pm. This being Germany, I knew that asking for an exception was not likely to garner a decent response, but that was no problem: I showed her the left luggage ticket and asked for my bike box so I could stuff my bike back into the box. She didn't have any issue with it, but the porter/bell-boy gave me a tough time, telling me that I was supposed to pay for storing my luggage at the hotel! Since it was obviously the receptionist and not the bell-boy who was responsible for such issues, I kept my mouth shut and just calmly accepted my luggage and proceeded to disassemble my bike at the place he designated. That did not keep him from coming back to me every so often and harassing me, however, claiming that the place he had designated might have customers coming through at any moment. He seemed determined to single-handedly prevent cyclists from staying at this hotel ever again.

By the time I was all done, it was 1:00pm, and walking in with my running shoes and bike carefully packed was more than good enough at that point to get me my reserved, single person suite. After the treatment I'd received, I was determined not to give the hotel any more money if I could help it, and so after a shower, I changed to civvies and took the complimentary airport shuttle to the airport and then bought a day pass for the train so I could go downtown. There, I had a great Thai lunch, and bought some stuff for family back home. I also bought enough instant noodles and fruits so I didn't have to leave the hotel for dinner and breakfast the next day.

I spent the rest of the day swimming in the hotel swimming pool and catching up on everything I'd missed for 3 weeks. The next morning was cloudy and rainy, but I didn't mind --- all I had to do was to catch the short shuttle to the airport, deliver my bike to Wow airlines, and keep myself occupied on the flight home. It had been a great tour, and I hope you enjoyed reading about it!

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