1970: May 23, Gillenfeld

Woke later this morning, and weather being somewhat cold and grey decide to go to Frankfurt. Did some shopping at Mayen en route – eggs, bread, fruit, wine and some frozen trout. Noticed high standard of shops – nothing scruffy or tatty and nothing cheap either – ample evidence of Germany’s booming economy all round, including the cars, several are Mercedes, and VWs, although common, are less so than one might expect.

Then one to the autobahn – somewhat hair-raising, what with maniac drivers, changing number of lanes and varying surfaces. However, arrived Frankfurt about 12 and went to the National History Museum first. Spectacular display of prehistoric animal skeletons, including diplodocus, part of triceratops, mastodon and many others and skeletons of whales (one enormous one) and other contemporary animals. Fossil display was good too – some beautiful preserved fishes. All very interested in the displays and Sarah, predictable, showed a morbid interest in the mummies of two children and an adult.

Drove on to the Zoo, and ate our lunch (liver sausage for us, sardines for them and fresh fruit for all and wine) before going in. Noticed large numbers of American cars – US servicemen and families everywhere. On our way through Frankfurt, we liked the streets we saw – well laid out and some enormous stones. Trams in twos and threes rattling round, but not a lot of traffic otherwise.

Zoo was gorgeous and very nicely laid out – monkeys had magnificent rocks and super hygienic cages to prevent infection, and they have some very rare ones e.g. colobus. Peacocks strutting around everywhere, to Andrew’s pleasure. Gareth again glued to elephants – an African elephant there incidentally, as well as Indians. The exotarium was very impressive, penguins in a replica of the Antartic, complete with ice floes and icicles, then various aquaria and some lovely sea turtles, and upstairs, snakes, lizards and some wicked looking crocodiles, with a notice warning you that “Crocodiles jump and bite” (N.B. all notices in English and German). Lions had a lovely rocky wooded area and carnivores’ house was nicely un-smelly, owing to air-conditioning. Most houses in fact had an indoor and outdoor area, with special plastic flaps for them to go in and out.

Bought the children chips to keep them going but drew the line at over 5/- for an enormous sausage and a roll for us! Price of food is really awful, the proportion of income it must take to feed a family is a dreadful thought but they all looked prosperous. Bought Gareth a small giraffe which he loved at once, and then went back to the car via the real giraffe house, and the otter pool – they were frolicking around completely ignoring their tea, which was a nice pile of white mice.

Drove out of Frankfurt passed textile industries, chemicals, electronics, and on to the autobahn, getting home in just over 2 hours. Ate a sumptuous tea – sherry, Cornish crab soup, trout and asparagus and tinned strawberries. Oh the simple life! (N.B. this evening the weather much warmer).

252 miles


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