BenThere.com Germany
Saturday 12 June 1999 - about to land in Frankfurt: An incredible stroke of luck once more befalls me, and I find myself on another airplane heading out to do another trip for Fox. I thought that I wouldn't be going on this one since I was in Brussels just a few weeks ago. I guess the TV gods were smiling on me this week.

First of all I would like to invite you to check this page on a regular basis. I am hoping to be able to do a little writing each day and give you a day by day look at the trip. I don't know if this will work (it fell apart miserably in Brussels) but it's worth a try. I will add new material to the end of this page.

Second, you'll have to wait for my next thought since we are about 15 minutes away from touchdown in Frankfurt. Don't touch that dial, we'll be right back after this important announcement....

Now at the Frankfurt airport, waiting for my flight to Cologne. It's delayed for whatever reasons planes are delayed. Luckily it is Europe and I don't need to traipse across the broad stretches of the terminal looking for an exit or other refuge to seek a cigarette. I just sit at a table in the waiting area and light up. If only our United States were so enlightened!

I'm not quite sure how the trip is going to shake out. I will be in Cologne for about 10 days with the TV Pool to cover President Clinton's visit to the G8 Leaders Summit. There are several other stops on the trip, but this is the biggest one. That's about all I know about that. After I am done in Cologne I will head back here to Frankfurt to handle the logistics of sending all of our gear back to the United States. And once that is taken care of I will stay on for about a week and continue to retrace my grandfather's footsteps through Europe during World War II. He served in Belgium and Holland, which we visited on the last trip. Now, I will go to the rest of the places he was in Germany. For a preview, visit the 104th Infantry web site, which is the unit grandfather served in. There are maps of the places I will be going to, and some interesting personal accounts of the war.

In a totally unrelated thought, we now move to the "Ben's Queer Observations" page: I've noticed that all the ground workers here at the Frankfurt airport look like real life Lego people.

That's about all that's on my mind right now. That and getting to the hotel in Cologne and getting a shower and getting to work.

And now we are in Cologne. After a shower and a short nap I have a little time to kill before meeting up with the rest of the group for dinner. It turns out we are not starting on the project until tomorrow morning, so I guess in a sense we are here early.

The hotel we are at will be the same one we are setting up the pool in. It is literally next door to the Dom, the grand cathedral that dominates this city. That's about all the hotel has going for us. The room has a small single bed, and is smaller than my dorm room in college. But we probably won't be seeing much of the room when the job starts, so I'm over it already. I'm just happy to be here, on the road, doing another trip. The hotel is dead in the middle of everything, and all the cafes and pedestrian malls are right around the hotel - an incentive to not spend much time in the room.

Some final thoughts now at the end of the day. Had a great dinner of venison with superb spaetzels tonight at a cafe along the Rhine. We will start rocking and rolling at 0830 tomorrow. Everything appears to be a straightforward setup, but there is always something that goes haywire at the last minute.

I took a short walk around the Dom this afternoon. It is an amazing building. I saw shell marks and divots in the stone from bullets. I imagine it from the pictures, standing tall alone above the rubble of the city. I try to smell fires smoldering, and hear the saturday afternoon crowd as the din of an army on the move. A dark hulking house of worship, unable to be brought down by the fearful forces unleashed by mortal men fighting to preserve the values embodied in the building. Maybe it is fitting that the Dom was one of the few things to survive. Perhaps it is almost as if the rest of the city had to go to fully purge the body Germany of the Nazi cancer; that this great nation would not be great today without the terrible things that had to happen in the past.

The cathedral (Dom) of Cologne - dominating the city and my thoughts
The old (rebuilt after the war) city hall (Rathaus)
A clarinet attracts a kid and me along the pedestrian way along the Rhine
Click Here to go to the White House, and the official web site for President Clinton's trip!