Some days you wonder if you're ever going to win another poker hand ever again. Days like Sunday, in fact. Bad cards after bad cards, followed by bad beat after bad beat, followed by missed draw after missed draw, followed by...

Wait, I was going to tell you about Frankfurt...

Until a couple of weekends ago, I'd never really spent any time in Germany, apart from three hours outisde the toilets at Berlin Station, that is (Inter-railing), and I'd never given much thought to the idea of speaking the language, and I have to say I loved it all. I'd still sooner emigrate to Spain - Barcelona two weeks previously was considerably warmer than the sub-zero windchill of central Germany - but the language is a darned sight easier on the English tongue than, say, Spanish or Catalan, and the people were charming in a way we Brits were unfamiliar with until Jurgen Klinsmann joined Tottenham after the 1994 World Cup. Big thanks especially go to Stefan, our impromptu coffee house found guide, who may have led us to apple wine that tasted like a sample, and didn't think we could go up any big towers, but whose effortless charm and easy smile made us forget exactly how cold it was.

Friday was spent travelling, and finding a bar without the kind of ambience we had left behind in England. To our joy, we found ourselves in a confusingly small, mirrored bar, observing in amazemed bewilderment some men who were old enough to know better, play a drinking game that appeared to involve one player standing on one foot, on his stool, while raising the other to waist level, the act greeted by ever greater cheer, the longer the evening went.

On the Saturday of our two-night trip (the travelling party was 21-strong, a collection of colleagues from work) for a quick reminder of the cold (did I mention that it was cold?) some of our party opted to journey to the top of Frankfurt's 5th tallest, and only publicly open, tower - The Main Tower. The lift whisked us up at a smooth 18kph, 200 metres to the top, where it was, unsurprisingly, colder than cold. It was warmer one floor below, in the bar, although we had to avoid the clutches of the lift boy to sneak into an alternative lift to get there. Sadly the bar was closed, according to the attendant bar staff, but we lingered, feeling that only the manager had sufficient authority to throw us out.

After being thrown out by the manager, we returned to ground level, and set about finding somewhere to camp for the afternoon. Appropriately enough we found a gay bar in an old square, where we proceeded to spend the afternoon in pleasant chat and drink. At least I think it was pleasant - I may have turned into a poker and music bore at some point, and by the time we left the recommended restaurant just down the road several hours later, we'd found what at the time was surely the world's most amusing prop, in the form of these brilliant and hilarious masks, in the section of restaurants and bars normally reserved for crap postcards of things written in a foreign language you don't understand, for things you wouldn't want if you know what they meant. Outside, we amused the rest of our party, who were heading to the restaurant as we were leaving, before I scaled the mountain of comedy to its cloudy summit by staring at a taxi driver through his window, until he said something I didn't entirely comprehend but could guess at the gist of, and drove off through the late evening snow.

On the recommendation of a homeless man - surely the best way of locating night-life in any unfamiliar city... - we made our way to 'Helium', an unassuming club in a random street amidst some shops, where the beer was cheap and the vodka the price of the mortgage on the average two-bed home counties semi-detached house. Before I could order my 50th round to make up for the price of the drinks others had bought for me, though, I despatched myself to bring the others to the club, rather than attempt to direct them from the restaurant. It was hard to tell which way we had walked with the masks on, but as fortune would have it, the two were but a snowball's throw apart. I quaffed a cheeky, and very generous, JD at the restaurant on account of its relative cheapness, but having talked all day I found my conversation running dry. This may explain why I attempted to entertain four people with a distinctly unamusing story about how I'm no good at making cous cous.

So, on to the club again, where the DJ had apparently turned the amp up to 11. So, back out of the club again. For the first time in my life, someone said to me "hey, let's go back to the gay bar", and off we ambbled through the snow. Someone pointed out immediately that the barmaid was clearly a ladyboy; a fact that had eluded me throughout the entire afternoon's drinking. Only now did I notice that her hands were indeed on the large side. More drink was drunk. By now I had given up on coherent conversation. Then, a commotion at the door, and in from the white night walked two friends, who had recently visited a local hospital. One, because he had required stitches in an eye wound gained from a badly executed snow slide, the other because he was good enough to accompany him. I offered them both a well-earned smoke, since it didn't involve much skill at language. Although really, I should say skill at English, since my German had come on in leaps and bounds by this stage, as is often the case with alcohol.

However good I got though, I failed to convince most Germans I met that I was in fact German - one possible exception was a couple of young fillies who chose me from the crowd (sounds interesting...) to take their photo (not so interesting...). The situation gave me the opportunity to practice the fine art of international mumbling. A mumble, you see, sounds much the same in any language. Mumble with the correct delivery and intonation for your locale, and you can pass yourself off as a local with the minimum of effort. I found this to be most effective when pushing through the crowded club, too. Curiously, though, whereas in most European countries my stumbling attempts at speaking the local language - or in Budapest, my attempts to demonstrate to the ticket inspector on the bus an utter lack of comprehension of all known languages - usually lead to the assumption that I'm German, in Germany this was seldom the case.

And then, all too soon, we were out of the door, and on our way home. As is my wont, I insisted we were going the wrong way until it was too obvious to deny that I was wrong. I like to think that this tactic keeps the guide focussed on following the correct route. More likely, it keeps them focused on wanting to hit me.

And then sleep, and then travelling, and then back to the sprawl and metallic sleek of Bournemouth International Airport. How I hate the journey home. Especially when I'm tired, trying to rehydrate. Ah, but I have memories. Memories and badly framed photos of the days courtesy of my new I-almost-know-how-to-use-it digital camera.