I’ve just returned from a productive but totally exhausting week at the Frankfurt Book Fair.
For those of you not well-versed in the publishing calender, (and there is no reason why you should be), this annual trade fair offers a week of business meetings, networking opportunities and conferences. Filling 8 halls, (some of which run over 3 floors), with exhibitors from all over the world it is a hub for inspiration whether you’re looking for new design ideas, illustrators, printing techniques, different styles of binding or types of paper (all things that the total book design and production geek in me loves), and it’s great for situating your own work within an international, industry-wide context.
While Frankfurt offers many business opportunities, it also invariably offers all too many opportunities to eat and drink far too much! Days start early and finish late, with suppers and drinks parties all chances not only to meet new and interesting people but also to overindulge.
I don’t think it would be slander to say that publishers are awful lushes and Frankfurt brings this to the fore. That’s not to say that the work suffers as a result, in fact some of the most lucrative of deals are made with wine glass in hand (or so I’ve heard).
At Frankfurt, free glasses of wine seem to flow from all stands and our evening trips to our Italian printers often result in a glass of something rich and red or fresh and fizzy, and in either instance, totally delicious.
While wine acts as a substitute for water, proper meals are traded for Fair fayre, which is a mixed bag to say the least.
As a vegan it is particularly tricky and the concept of soya milk is totally alien in most places, meaning that I went for 5 days without a proper cup of tea.
We normally stay on a boat during the Fair and the breakfasts there aren’t bad. While there are the usual fried options there is also plenty of healthier ones too. This year I remained restrained with the breakfast buffet and enjoyed an array of fruit, muesli and rye bread.
The cafes in our hall of the Messe however are never very well stocked to suit vegans (or anyone who doesn’t want a cheesy pretzel, jaw-breaking ciabatta or sausage in a dry roll).
As a result my daily lunch was the rather uninspired, so-called ‘fitness salad’, which was basically a bowl of mixed leaves with a handful of cherry tomatoes, the odd sunflower seed and some mozzarella, which I had to pick out, supplemented by an apple stolen from breakfast!
Suppers were much better and this year we found a good array of restaurants including a brasserie by the opera, where we were so well-looked after and catered for we returned for a second visit. Here I had a delicious rocket, sun-dried tomato and mushroom salad and a simple but utterly delicious pasta dish with truffles. We had a really good Lebanese mezze meal with banaganoush, flat bread, vine leaves, tabouli, hummus and falafel one night and a delicious Turkish platter another, with cous cous, caramelised carrots, courgettes, peppers, a spicy tomato dip, hummus and the tastiest, most melt in the mouth Turkish bread I’ve ever.
Feeling the weight on my conscious and around my waist of wine-sloshed pasta and lots of bread, I did manage to get out for a couple of runs while I was away, commencing my 10 city run challenge.
With long days runs had to be squeezed in when I could manage, but I managed one around 9pm the day I landed and another at 6am on Saturday morning before a conference. The benefit of staying on the river was that I was gifted with a perfect running route as soon as I left the front door.
Sadly I only got to see it in the dark, but it offered a perfect opportunity to wear my florescent yellow running top. In any case, the lights from the city and along the bridges made for a pretty run and in the dark no one could see how bedraggled and rained-on I looked!
I was really glad to be able to get out even for just two relatively short runs, coupled with walking to the Fair on the Wednesday and around the centre on the Saturday evening I actually managed to see more of Frankfurt than in previous years, where I had been limited to the Messe and the boat.
With a week of mind buzzing meetings, conferences and stands and a Sunday packing up the stand and lots of heavy lifting of boxes and books, by the time I arrived home late on Sunday night I was about ready to collapse!
After a good sleep (and a sneaky lie in until 7 on Monday morning), I’m ready to face another week, and maybe a bit of a detox!