This morning, it was time to leave the Westin Grand hotel with its in-bathroom television speakers (actually useful for the ITV channels that were stuck on audio commentary for the blind mode), 5 Euro flat bottled water and policy to use vintage Mercedes Benz cars as decorations.
After a rush to print off my train ticket for Monday using the business centre at the hotel upon discovering that it specifically says it must be printed, I hopped on the Thales bus to Koblenz, which took about 2 hours. (I slept for most of this and woke up incredibly disoriented travelling along a gloomy, congested highway.)
At Koblenz, we were divided into groups in a very enjoyable way. We were each offered a chocolate and the type of chocolate we got determined our group number. Very effective and delicious!
The first part of the Thales facility which we saw was the workshop where real weapons are converted to ones that can be used in simulation settings. All the dangerous stuff is removed and an imitation recoil and some sensors are added. We were then taken to the room where small arms training takes place. I was told that I was allowed to take photos just as long as I didn’t put them on facebook or publish them so it means you’ll just have to imagine me awkwardly handling a German rifle, squinting through the laser sight and laying waste to the simulated woodlands and the terrorists within.
We then went upstairs to see another simulator room. In this one, a helicopter pilot and a gunner (enlisted through audience participation) worked together to fight off some pirates (modern pirates, not the Captain Jack Sparrow sort) that were attacking a container ship. The graphics were just amazing. It was just like looking at the real ocean.
In the other end of the same room was an integrated train supervisory system. We observed the system under normal circumstances, then changed the direction of the escalators and saw the escalators in the AI-generated security footage change direction. We also simulated a fire in the station and watched all the AI passengers run for their lives and then forget what had happened and stand around the entrance to the station trying to get in again. It was like The Sims Railway Edition!
We had a BBQ lunch. Someone joked to us Australians that it was a long way for us to come for a BBQ. There were even shrimp on this barbie…
The weather all day had been pretty gloomy and windy. But at least that sort of weather is useful to someone:
We got back on the busses and some of us drove to Stuttgart and some back to Frankfurt. While in transit, I did some blogging and travel planning. I’m glad I rang to confirm my tour for tomorrow, because they actually didn’t have enough people so we swapped the tours around and this means I get a sleep in tomorrow!
My bus driver managed to drop me on the far side of the railway station, which added about 15 minutes to my walk to my hotel. When I was deciding where to stay in Frankfurt, I had to make a choice between being close to the train station and meeting point for my tours, and not being in a red light district. I decided that I wanted to be closer to the train station (and the ladies…)
A Brisbane comparison for the level of danger and number of strip clubs and sex shops would be Fortitude Valley. However, if you walk about 200m you end up in a West End sort of area with restaurants and a market and, surprisingly, heaps and heaps of jewellery shops.
This was one of the frontages on the street:
My hotel is uniquely decorated with mosaics in the foyer and restaurant. My room features great economy of space but luckily, I’m not full sized person otherwise I may not have been able to fit in the shower and would have my feet hanging over the end of the single bed. I went down to the basement gym before dinner. It was a very strange place tiled like a Turkish bath (with seats built in to the walls). There were air vents that went out to the street so you could hear people yelling outside in a strange out of body kind of way.
I went for a walk to get some dinner and after deciding not to go to Kakadus, the Australian restaurant, I went to an Italian place run by a lovely Indian couple. I returned before sunset because I was feeling a bit paranoid, but looking out now, there are lots more people and it seems a little safer.