After a small delay with my flight I finally get out of arrivals to met my Spanish beauty of a friend Helena at Terminal 1 and we head off to the Regional Train Station to take the train to Frankfurt Main Station – Our holiday officially begins! Wahoo!
It’s been 9 months since I last saw Helena and 3 years since Julia and Patrick where in South Africa on secondment. I cannot wait to see them. As with any holiday…your friends and travel companions truly make it even more memorable.
Hotel – 24 Hours by Levi’s
Our hotel was a mere 5 min walk from the station and as we walk in we are impressed with the funky feel and vibe. The building is painted to look like it is a cardboard box. The front desk looks like its made from washing machines and the guy at reception is really cute 🙂 ha ha…plus our room is a pretty good size. The hotel has a vibey bar and restaurant down stairs during the evening/night – with a nice cocktail selection and food menu.
Warning for non-couples sharing: There is no door separating the shower/bathroom from the main bedroom room (the toilet is however separate). Luckily the room is big enough for you to sit in a section out of view of the shower to provide some privacy – so we managed.
Rating: 8/10 I would definitely stay there again and would choose the 24 Hour range of hotels in the future at other locations. You get all the comfort, style and amenities of a top hotel for a fraction of the price. Plus!!! Did I mention the hotel has 1 or 2 Mini Coopers and few bicycles available for guests to use for free!!! Now that’s service.
Let the adventures begin… Day 1 in Frankfurt
Our 1st day in Frankfurt was planned by Patrick, who showed us some great local spots and some of his favorite places which he often spoke off during his time in Johannesburg. What an absolutely fantastic way to start of my holiday…Helena and I were truly spoilt by Pat and Julz. We not only got to experience some beautiful countryside (which I love more than the city) but we also got to see some of the lovely places my friends love to go to and which they hold dear (like the venue Pat had his wedding reception at) – this made the visits a tad more special. Best of all we got to spend some quality time together catching up over good food and drinks. What more could you ask for!
If your looking for something different to do to which provides you with a wide taste of what Frankfurt has to offer (i.e. mix of some typical and off the beaten track places) – here’s my suggestion on what to do with 24 hours in Frankfurt:
1. Kleinmarkthalle (Old Town Market Hall)
Start your day with a early visit to the old town market hall to experience the hustle and bustle in the heart of Frankfurt city centre. The hall is filled with stalls selling fruit, vegetables, cheese, breads, sweets, flowers and yummy food to try. It has a meat section too were you can see the various sausages and meat selections on display. A true market feel filled with local people doing their morning shopping. The queues are especially long since shops are closed on Sundays.
After taking in the scenery, grab something savoury or sweet (whatever your preference) from the Huck Bäckerei & Konditorie stall (which both Patrick & Julz swears is one of the best bakeries in town) and head over for a cup of coffee (which was really cheap with 3 cappuccinos and a cafe mocha costing less than 10 Euros in total) at the Frankfurter Kaffeerösterie stall to enjoy with your tasty treat (which is Patrick’s favourite place to get a good coffee).
2. Walk through Römerberg Square and City Skyline
Once your tummies are full, talk a slow stroll throw the beautiful Römberberg Square which is surrounded by old century houses, cafes/restaurants and local musicians (No. 1 on the map below) . This is a very touristy area so you will find lots of tourists and many souvenir shops. I think this is the most beautiful part of the city to explore.
Next head towards the river bank and enjoy a photographic and panoramic view of the city skyline as you walk across the bridge filled with love locks.
On this particular Saturday, the was a mini flea market on the other side of the embankment (turn right at the end of the bridge when you reach No.8 on the map), so we took a stroll through and along the river bank lined with trees (that looked similar to Baobab trees to me as result of their pruning) as we made a loop to come back across the next bridge. We then decided to walk a little further down to the Opera house before we headed back to the car to take our main trip into the country side.
3. Wiesbaden Town
A small historical town with beautiful buildings and parks (architect lovers would like the place). For a Saturday, the town was pretty quite. We made it just in time to catch the next sightseeing tram/train – which took us around the area, showings us some historical buildings and funny stories behind some of the houses. The audio tour is in German but they do have a book with English, Spanish and other translations. With some hot coffee’s in our hands, we headed off on our little tour. Patrick has been waiting for visitors so that he can do this tram tour 🙂 – I am glad he got to experience it with us.
This was a nice stop en route to our final destination and it was an opportunity to see more of the surrounding areas. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea – but I saw some nice little shops, places to eat and opportunities to be outdoors in a beautiful park. We had a fun time, but this is largely thanks to the company I was with.
4. Schloss Freudenberg (“Castle Joy Mountain) & Cafe, Wiesbaden
We passed though the cherry blossom trees on our way for a quick pit stop to Château de Freudenberg for some coffee and cake. This was the place Patrick had his wedding reception and it was fantastic to hear him talk us through the event and settings.
Tip: Cherry Blossom season is around April/May and cherry picking season around June/July depending on the weather. Both are beautiful times to visit the area.
The place houses varies exhibitions and would be fun if you have kids. The unusual games located across the garden and within are centered around using your senses. On certain days they have a cocktail night with a live band playing. Our visit took us to the mini restaurant situated inside the left corner of the house. On the menu was a rooibos and orange tea – I was surprised to see rooibos on the menu 🙂 so off course I had to try it. It wasn’t the same as the real rooibos we get at home.
The decor of the restaurant is quite interesting, on the one corner there is hole with insects/ants coming out onto the ceiling. Not as creepy as it sounds, in fact it was very cool and interesting.
This isn’t a must stop visit, but if you in the area and would like to stop for a nice cup of coffee and a bite to eat it makes for an unusual and interesting stop especially if you have kids with you.
5. Elt Ville – Baiken Restaurant
Imagine a beautiful country vineyard with fields of grape vines, a old country house, wine barrels and scenery that makes you feel like you have just been transported to another country when compared to the concrete jungle you’ve just escaped – almost feels like your at one of the Cape Town wine farms. The country side, the places only known by the locals, where menus and signs don’t have English translations is the true German experience. These are the places I love visiting most when on holiday because here you get to really interact with local people and experience their hospitality and culture.
The restaurant is cosy and rustic, the menu small – since its based on seasonal produce – which means you getting good quality food. At the time it was asparagus season so everywhere you went all menus featured asparagus. I am no wine connoisseur and I like Rosè/sweet wines which some may say do not qualify as wine – but they had what seemed to me quite a range of wines to choose from. I tried the sweetest possible white wine on the menu and although not sweet to my liking, it was enjoyable and not too heavy for me. For mains I ordered the chicken dish with asparagus risotto and boy was it delicious! I finished the everything on that plate.
This is a stop you do not want to miss!
Tip: Make sure you make a reservation to avoid disappointment. The place is small and in winter mainly the inside is used so space is limited.
Our last stop was to visit Sandra (Pat’s wife, since she couldn’t make supper due to an unforeseen delay) and to see their newly built home. We spent the rest of late evening here having a few drinks and a few laughs with their two cats. Their home is beautiful – its built with “black” timber which is so unusual but inside its so bright and airy, the unique finishes make it homey with Sandra’s paintings hanging on the wall, a bright vintage locker (the kind you would find in a locker/change room at the gym) at the entrance to keep your coats and a metal filling cabinet for your shoes. Love the idea! Unfortunately, I can’t share their address with you and you will have to find your own local German family to visit along the way 🙂
After a long day out, Helena and I decided to try out the cocktails at the bar downstairs of our Hotel. The restaurant was busy and the drinks were strong which meant we stayed and chatted for far longer than we planned. But when you live in two different countries and don’t see each other often, you can never have enough girly chat sessions 🙂
Day 2 in Frankfurt
After a good nights sleep, we were fresh and ready to hit the town. Julia took us out for breakfast to a really cool restaurant next to the river bank and we had a lazy Sunday morning chatting and eating lots of food!
After brekkie, Helena and I wondered around central town.
NB Note: Shops are closed on a Sunday! Except for a few tourist shops, places to eat and the main station. So best you find something else to do out of town on a Sunday and if you a are shopaholic don’t plan to do this on a Sunday. This was found to be common in many European cities visited – so best check beforehand the shopping hours of your location.
It being a bitterly cold day and with no shops open, there was not much for us to do after we walked around the main area. The freezing windy weather eventually drove us back to the Hotel were we were warm, had WiFi and could order a hot drink.
Beware of the dodge massage places
I sprained my shoulder during the travel over and although I don’t usually partake in such activities when on holiday given the high prices compared to back home – I decided it was best to find a spa to have a quick shoulder massage to fix it, since we had the time and I had another 2 weeks of holiday to go. Not wanting to walk far nor spend too many Euros on a massage, we found a Chinese massage place that had an actual website and didn’t look too dodge from the pictures. (Bear in mind our Hotel and the station is pretty close to the “red light” district of Frankfurt).
So off we go following google maps ,which shows that we are 5 mins walk away from this place, and as we walk pass many sex shops and strip joints (clearly their working hours don’t close on Sundays) we begin to wonder what kind of establishment we will actually find. We spot the building we are looking for on the corner of the street – it looks like a block of offices with an array of company names in blocks by the bell. Ureeka! One of them is the Chinese massage place – now the question is do we go in? After a minute we press the buzzer and the door opens. We go in and start walking up the stairs – there are no signs (which floor are they on??) – I am beginning to think this was not a good idea and are we going to get out alive. You think we should have turned around by now and went running out, but No. We reach the front entrance of the Chinese parlor and a Chinese lady is already waiting with the door open for us.. freaky!! How did she know we were coming to them? I ask her about the 20min shoulder massage and she says “yes yes can do now follow me…” . We follow her down the passage, into a waiting area and some single rooms set up with massage tables etc. Helena says she will wait outside, but the lady insists No, she must come inside the room. Waiting in what looked like a waiting/pause area (with chairs and books) clearly was not allowed. She leaves us in the room and closes the door. Helena and I begin to freak out a little at this moment – can we just leave? This looks dodge? She comes back and tells me to get on the table – okay there’s no turning back now, lets just get it done, maybe it will be okay. One of the weirdest moments I have experienced – in the first few minutes I thought this lady has no idea what she is doing and I have just wasted 20 euros, she leaves the room, gets some music to play and then leaves again to get something else. OMG! The place smells like chinese food, the lady is weird, and I feel so uncomfortable right now and wanna leave. In the end, she ended up doing a really good job and gave me a good massage which did fix my shoulders and Helena & I walked out alive! LOL! We did however notice on our way out pass the entrance passage some bigger rooms with low double beds – hmmm wonder what those are for? – We got a good laugh out of it in the end and we now have a funny story to tell our friends. But never again, dodge experience on holiday √Check
We spent the rest of the day at the Hotel until we had to sadly say our goodbyes until we meet again.
Helena headed back to the airport to catch her flight to Barcelona. Whilst I jumped on the train to my next stop, Stuttgart.