Jet lag might not be the debilitating affliction of comic proportions that I feared it would for this trip, but nonetheless it's 5AM, and I'm in a hotel room in Frankfurt. The twilight is fighting the morning, but already hues of orange can be counted among the colours visible in the dim light of the room. The battle is nearly over.

It's a modest hotel by most accounts - a room with a bed. A bathroom with a shower, which I always forget isn't modest as I think it is. What it lacks in opulence, it makes up for in a different sort of elegance. The minimalist design of the hallways gives even the room numbers a certain cheerfulness. The modern angles of the furniture would be reduced by chintz and ornamentation. The door to the balcony is marvelous in all the different ways the hinges conform to the desire of the user. Not even a full morning have I spent in this country, and already I'm relying upon the stereotypes. Efficiency.

There's a balcony barely large enough for a pigeon, overlooking the loading dock of the hotel. Directly across form the balcony in all directions are various apartment buildings, every one sporting a different style of architecture, none of which are any younger than forty years. Below our room, I can see the roof of another building, flat and topped with mosses, ferns, flowers, and chimneys. I can't quite see any access to this roof, nor can I see any pathways, by which someone might walk by those flowers. I suppose flowers have as much right to choose their location as mosses do.

The real charm of the hotel, though, is the location. Only a few blocks away is the Main River, the defining characteristic of the city, which has the full name of Frankfurt-am-Main. Cobblestones line the bank, walking paths are shaded by trees and lit by streetlights, and the skyline of the city is nestled peacefully behind the view of the trees.

And people I've talked to commonly say Frankfurt is one of their least favourite cities in Germany? It makes me wonder what's in store, because this trip was already worth it.

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Canadian explorer. Chemist by training, biologist by nature. Long-time supporter and participant in National Novel Writing Month. Known as "Aquadeo" in most Internet circles. Also known as "that guy with the pants" to people who have seen me in certain pants.