Frankfurt Dispatches: Ellen’s Tuesday Tour

Our latest dispatch from the Frankfurt Book Fair courtesy of Ellen Kadin, Executive Editor.

Tuesday was booth set-up day, which went smoothly and left us free in the afternoon to explore. In the course of strolling around looking for a place to lunch (and getting lost) in lovely Bad Soden (the town about 20 minutes from the Fair where AMACOMers in attendance reside), Hank and I asked directions of a local, and didn’t know that with that seemingly innocuous inquiry we had, in effect, signed on for a ninety-minute tour.

Our perky septuagenarian guide, Ute Duhamel, brought us to see and sample the waters from a series of a six stone fountains. The fountains are each set about six feet below ground, and in front of each is a placard detailing the chemical composition of that particular water (e.g., calcium, lithium, sodium, etc.) along with the therapeutic benefits to be derived from drinking or bathing in it. Ute pointed out how well the various waters work; one of them actually cured her asthma. She told us that there used to be 36 such curative fountains, but with the waters from these fountains available for free, and the land being so valuable, most of the fountains were covered over so the land could be exploited commercially.

We found that while each water had its own unique flavor, all of them were salty, more or less. (And of course, we thought, a town named Bad Soden would feature such salty waters.)

On a street near our hotel (The Concorde) stands a circle of statues of male and female characters whose clothes and hair styles reflect some of the many periods in history when people have flocked to Bad Soden to take advantage of the therapeutic waters–from the days of Caesar to post-WWII. For the onlooker’s amusement the statues were created to be dynamic: some can be swiveled around to face another statue character, and all were constructed with moving body parts: hands, feet, and arms that can be manipulated; and some bend at the waist.

Ute also gave us the lowdown on a remarkable apartment building which I can’t even describe–it looks like it was drawn for a cartoon (and whose construction ruined the local environs)–designed by Friedrich Hundertwasser (which means “hundred waters). I would send along a photo, but I learned on this trip that my BlackBerry does not feature a camera–and all I had on me was an old disposable camera, so photos of the cartoonish residence will have to wait.

We think Ute wanted to adopt us (or have us adopt her), as she was hurrying to the bank to get there before it closed when we first approached her for directions, but she ended up blowing that off gladly to give us the grand tour. And as delightful as our tour guide was, had we not taken the opportunity to say goodbye by availing ourselves of the chocolate shop nearby, it is possible that Ute would be with us right now.

Okay, that’s about enough on our spontaneous tour.

Thank you Ellen!


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