When in Römer

I warily skipped breakfast and just had a cup of tea before my presentation on Wednesday morning.

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My audience seemed reasonably impressed by the glossy marketing images in our corporate introduction video and my slide explaining how most of Europe could fit into Australia, land mass wise.

I also had some positive feedback about the axle counter-related content and was even able to answer the question directed to me at the end.

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You may have been able to see a sign behind my head while I was presenting which said “Willkommen Beinvenue Welcome”.

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Every time I looked at this sign (which was very half a minute or so, because it was behind the presenter’s head) my internal monologue continued the following lines of the opening song of Cabaret,

“Fremde, etranger, stranger
Gluklich zu sehen, je suis enchante,
Happy to see you, bleibe, reste, stay
Willkomen, bienvenue, welcome,
Im Cabaret, au Cabaret, to Cabaret!”

and then proceeded to have the song stuck in my head for most of the day.

After I’d presented I was free(er) to relax and posed in front of a vintage car that was just parked near the refreshment table.

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I won’t thrill you with all the details of the afternoon’s presentations but the most interesting thing I saw was from the Metro de Porto in Portugal where their rails are laid within grass.

In the evening we had our Gala Dinner at the Römer Frankfurt. Apparently, this former town hall is quite an exclusive venue and a member of the public asked us who we were (maybe expecting us to be visiting dignitaries or some sort).

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To get to the Römer, we caught a bus and walked through a very picturesque courtyard.

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On the bus, I was nattering away to one of the German ladies at the seminar, commenting on how Frankfurt was such a modern city. She didn’t really make much of a comment on this. Later I found at that at the beginning of the 1940s Frankfurt had the largest number of medieval houses in Germany but that by the end of the 1940s there were only 11 left and this was not because they had a sudden urge to build shopping malls. I can hear Basil Faulty’s voice ringing in my head…

The ladies who had organised the seminar were very appropriately dressed for the occasion:

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We were entertained in the courtyard by a medieval fool who performed a range of tricks – juggling, diablo, fire twirling, magic and puns.

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This house used to be occupied by Italian merchants (hence the Rome-related name) and then the state acquired it. For quite some time, it was the place to be. This fountain used to flow wine not water:

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And there was even a secret staircase that drunk gentlemen used to use so they could leave the premises with out attracting attention when clodhopping through the piazza (square? I’m going with piazza seeing as Romans used to live there).

Inside the building they had arched, vaulted ceilings, medieval artefacts and even a harp player who sang beautiful German folk songs. It was a wonderful atmosphere.

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As is often the way in workplaces where you wear a costume as your uniform, we took some photos of and with the staff.

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We were offered nibblies in the courtyard and soda water with passion fruit and berries. But then, inside, we were provided with a five course meal with wine, schnapps and tea as well! The fool nominated members of our party to play roles such as the official food taster (to check for poison) and the official most drunk guy (who got a hat with curly hair attached).

The fool did a little more light juggling.

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As he added more and more juggling balls to his act performed under the vaulted ceiling, I was reminded of a book I read as a child called The Clown of God, where after a hard life, an old clown’s final act was to juggle for an image of the Madonna and Child.

After dinner, the fool promised us a “fire surprise” outside and he delivered quite impressively:

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We walked back through the square, which was beautifully lit at night and then caught the bus home.

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The majority of my colleagues took this opportunity to continue the frivolity in the hotel lobby bar but apparently physical age has nothing to do with conference stamina and I went to bed:

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