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Trip Report An Unexpected Journey: Spring Break in Frankfurt

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Early in 2014, DH learned that he might be making several overseas business trips in the next few months; we decided if one was during my March week-long break from teaching and we could get a seat with FF miles, I would go. But as the trips got planned, cancelled, shuffled, juggled and re-planned, it grew increasingly unlikely that he’d travel during my break, and I forgot about it. In February he scheduled a week in Germany during the 3rd week of March. On March 3 it was decided he had to be in Germany March 10, a week earlier than planned—and now the week of my break. And surprisingly to me, there was a still a FF seat available--wow, suddenly I’m going to Frankfurt, Germany, in 5 days! So I didn’t have long to prepare or plan, but I knew the area in general. I’d spent over 3 weeks with him in 2012 in the area and had done almost everything that was on my most important sites list. But I was excited to go, of course, and knew there were a couple places I’d not gotten to go last time as well as a couple I didn’t get to spend enough time in. So by the time we left, after a week full of work plus the pre-travel chores, I had a short list of possibilities but only one day planned for certain.

A little bit of background:

We are in our late 50’s and like to take pictures of ruins and castles and Roman stuff.
DH has been to Frankfurt close to 20 times in the last 10 years, and I have been with him twice. In 2012 I rode a lot of trains, local and inter-city, for over 3 weeks, plus DH and I had 3 weekends to travel, so I had seen a lot in the Frankfurt area and had also “mastered” the public transport options.

Before the trip DH got one of the worst head colds in his life, and it was definitely still there a little when we left and had worn him out as well.

In 2012 Mainhattengirl from the Forum had given me lots of good advice; and while I was there, we had a short get-together. So I contacted her, and we were able to plan one trip together, plus she gave me lots more good advice about my other days.

Saturday-Sunday--Travel/Arrival Days

Our flights from South Texas through Dallas and on to Frankfurt were on time, both arriving a tad early actually, and generally nothing to comment on. One big thing was that DH upgraded me to sit with him in business class and, boy, could that be habit-forming! The extra room and the reclining seats were wonderful. Somehow, though, despite our being so much more comfortable than in coach, neither of us slept more than 2 hours, tops. There was a good bit of minor but annoying turbulence when we were trying to fall asleep. In any case, between the fatigue from his being sick, my stress of planning a quick trip, and our lack of sleep, we arrived more jet-lagged than usual.

DH almost always stays at the Dorint Hotel in Sulzbach, putting him very near where he needs to be in the Höchst Industrial Park. It’s where we stayed in 2012 and is very nice. Well, because of the last minute change, when the company agent made arrangements, the Dorint did not have a room for all the nights. There was a huge music trade-fair and festival all week and rooms were all booked up. So one stress the week before had been using this company-mandated travel agent who wasn’t very efficient, it seemed, but in the end we did end up at the Dorint—for 3 nights, then we would have to move to another hotel near the airport for 1 night, then back to the Dorint. (DH heard that someone he knew decided he’d try to come to Frankfurt while DH was in town; he called a cheap hotel he’s used a lot at 45€ per night—they wanted 400€!)

Anyway, we arrived around 8 am, sailed through passport control, got our luggage quickly, and rented a car. We were on the road before 9:30 and drove to the Dorint, hoping that they might have a room available early—which they did, so we were able to check in and get a short rest.

Sunday—Bad Homburg

We know the best thing to do on arrival day is to get outside and stay active as much as possible, so we had looked at several options of things to do without driving far. As he had made a reservation for dinner at The Lodge in Kronberg, we’d want to stay sorta northwest of Frankfurt. Mainhattengirl had suggested several places, like Idstein and Bad Homburg. We considered nearby Saalburg, but as we’d been there (he twice), we decided against it. But it is quite good if you are looking for something in the area to do. I liked the Bad Homburg idea; we would also maybe go to Hessenpark Open Air Museum; he’d been there years ago but didn’t remember much. The day was mostly sunny and in the 50s, so pleasant, even to South Texas-folks.

After we had a short rest, we headed to Bad Homburg, hoping to find a grocery store open in Bad Soden or somewhere to pick up some stuff—but nothing was open on this Sunday. Oh, well. At a McD’s on the outskirts of town, DH got a much needed cold coke for a wakeup and we got something to eat. In Bad Homburg we followed the directions of “Sheila” our GPS and got a parking spot on the street leading to the Schloss. The bells in a nearby church tolled noon right after we arrived at the Schloss. This is situated on a hill overlooking a lovely park, and there is a gigantic cedar of Lebanon in the gardens on one side of it. This garden area is undergoing some work, and there was also scaffolding on that part of the building. In a courtyard stands the round white tower which can be seen from afar. We enjoyed the look around the outside and decided not to spend time inside on this lovely day. There are several old towers visible from the palace, and we walked by a couple of them, enjoying the half-timbered houses all around too. We ambled along a little more through the old part of town, where many were enjoying the sun and the Sunday quiet, before heading back to the car. We had parked across from the Erlöserkirche next door to the Schloss, so we took some pictures. It wasn’t open until 3, so we didn’t get to look inside; it is quite handsome in a sturdy Romanesque style, having been built in the early 1900’s by Wilhelm II, the German Emperor.

Then we drove a little ways to the Hessenpark Open Air Museum. On our way there, as we went by the Opel Zoo, we got stuck in traffic as there were tons of people availing themselves of this glorious March day; the lot at the Zoo was filling up! At the Hessenpark, there were also lots of families; the parking lot was almost full when we arrived, but except for a line at a bakery, there wasn’t really a crowd anywhere inside. This park is a big exhibit of over 100 historic buildings on 150 acres, covering 400 years of rural history. Structures have been restored and refurbished, and there are lots of exhibits (tools, furnishings, clothing, all sorts of artifacts) and some animals (biggest pig I’ve ever seen!). I highly recommend this place, both for its historic importance as well as for the opportunity to enjoy the pleasant surroundings. We had a great visit; but after less than 2 hours, DH began to really feel fatigued. And I slipped down some steps; in my successful attempt to tighten my grip on the handrail and prevent a headfirst tumble, I wrenched my left arm very badly. So I was ready to go, too. (I didn’t think I injured it, just hurt it, but it was very, very painful in certain motions—like putting on a jacket or backpack!—most of the rest of the week. Doh!) We went back to the hotel and rested; DH actually had a 2 hour nap which ended up being helpful, which is not always true when fighting off jet lag.

We drove less than 10 miles to The Lodge, a great steakhouse right next to the Opel Zoo in Kronberg. We’d eaten there before, DH more than once. Well, we got caught up in the traffic with people leaving the zoo now! But since they were leaving, parking was easy; we arrived before our 6:30 reservation and they were able to seat us. It was a great meal with some of the best steak I’ve ever had, but service was a bit slow this time. That night DH slept great and felt much better Monday; my arm prevented me from resting.

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    I am so sorry to hear of your injury! That can really take a lot out of you and cut down on the sightseeing. Anyway, I am looking to read about the rest of your week. Please continue!

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    Yes, I tried not to let my hurt interfere too much! Thanks for the encouragement; here's a few more days:

    Monday—A Day of Work and Rest

    Before we left home, I’d made several different plans for this day, either traveling nearby or resting/working in the hotel while DH worked. Well, I had gotten little sleep for about 5 days and also thought it would be wise to give my arm a day to heal, so I opted for a hotel day. I did some travel planning and digital scrapbooking on my computer. (Yay, free wi-fi now in the rooms! In 2012 I’d had to use the computers in the lobby.) I had leftovers we’d brought from The Lodge, and I got some exercise on this gorgeous Monday by taking a walk on the paths around the fields (plantings of asparagus, white asparagus, strawberries, grain, and sunflowers) near the hotel. For dinner DH and I returned to our favorite restaurant in the area, La Cocina in Bad Soden. Since DH has eaten here at least once every trip over the last 5 or 6 years, he and the owner have become acquainted. After terrific fresh salads, I had great penne with a spicy tomato sauce while DH had beef with veggies. Yum. We found a Rewe market open and got my breakfast foods and some sodas. The Dorint has a great breakfast buffet, but it’s pricey for someone who just eats yogurt and fruit! So DH ate breakfasts in the hotel, but I kept yogurt and fruit in the room refrigerator.

    Tuesday—Frankfurt

    This was to be my see-some-Frankfurt day. The routine DH and I had formed in 2012 on my train travel days was for him to drop me at the Höchst train station on his way to work between 7 and 7:30 usually, and then we’d meet back up there between 5 and 6ish. But my arm had definitely cut into my resting and I didn’t feel like making an early start! So he went on to work, and after I was able to have a little more rest, I felt like going. I left about 10 and took a taxi (€10.40) to the station. I waited in line at the DB office and asked a couple questions about travel for tomorrow (which the agent gave me wrong info about!) and also tried to buy a day ticket from him while I was there, but you cannot purchase from agents, he said, only from the machines. I had no trouble using the machine—except it would not take a €50 bill for my €6.60 day-ticket. But I got it and then, ticket in hand, I rode to Frankfurt. My only real goal was to go to a neighborhood that Mainhattengirl had recommended—Bornheim-- and just sorta wander leisurely, maybe also doing a bit of shopping and returning to some places.

    Let me insert here that I have found Frankfurt to be undervalued as a travel destination. It has a good public transportation system, lots of lovely parks (I discovered more this year), good and varied food, plenty of history, and some fine, inexpensive, close-to-each other museums of all sorts. It makes a great base for seeing so much, on either day trips or weekend trips, and has much to offer itself.

    I rode the S-bahn to Frankfurt and then to Konstablerwache and walked down K.-Schumacher-Strasse. Across from the Museum Juddenasse at the corner of that and Battonnstrasse, I noticed some “stumble-stones”—Stolpersteine—and took a picture of them with the museum in the background. In 2012 on my highly recommended Frankfurt by Foot walking tour http://www.frankfurtonfoot.com/, my guide Dave had taught me what these are. They are now, collectively, the largest memorial in Germany to all the different victims of the Holocaust. This website explains them pretty well: http://www.stolpersteine-gelsenkirchen.de/stumbling_stones_demnig.htmand I tried to keep my eyes open for them this trip.

    Next I found my way to Kleinmarkthalle where I got a sandwich and drink and enjoyed the atmosphere. I then went to the Römerberg; in London, I need to go to some bridge over the Thames before I feel “there”; here, I go to the Römerberg! I also wanted to see what progress they were making on the construction, as I knew they were reworking some of that area and expanding the Historisches Museum. So I had a look at that and found a couple tiny cheap souvenirs.

    I had decided to try the tram this year; I had used all the other rail services in 2012, so thought I’d try this. I caught one right at the Römer and rode to Bornheim Mitte. Then I strolled the Berger Strasse through Bornheim. I liked experiencing this neighborhood. People were enjoying a pastry or late lunch at outside cafes, kids were getting out of school, older ladies were doing their daily shopping and meeting friends. There was nothing spectacular here, just real life in a pleasant, diversified area. There are a few half-timbered houses, mostly northwest of Bornheim Mitte, on this street, too. Getting away from the “tourist” and typical spots in a big city makes me feel like I know a teeny bit more about people who live there.

    This street led me to Bethmann Parkwhich was sprinkled with spring blooms and has a pretty Chinese garden. Spring was definitely putting in its first major appearance this week, making the sky blue and the air warm and the trees and flowers bursting with buds or blooms. So nice. And this is a very pretty small park. Right across the street I entered the Anlage area,that wonderful green belt in what used to be where the city wall was before the French occupation of the early 1800’s. This was the Friedberger Anlage. Lovely anytime. I think this is a hidden jewel in Frankfurt. Well, I mean, plenty of people seem to be enjoying the Anlage the times I’ve been there, so it’s not exactly hidden, but I don’t see it touted much. It’s really cool, both in its beauty and in its historical significance.

    I have forgotten what I did next exactly, but I headed to the Jewish Cemetery and walked along the Holocaust Memorial Wall and through the Neuer Boerne Platz . I found some more Stolpersteine nearby. I was feeling pretty well done for the day, so I went along the Zeil just a bit, enjoying the people-watching instead of shopping. Got an S-Bahn at Konstablerwache, changed to another very crowded one at the Frankfurt Hbf, and waited for a little while for DH in the (very ugly!—but fully functioning) Höchst station. I also bought a Group-card that would be valid for mine and Mainhattengirl’s travel the next day; this was contrary to what the agent had said. (First the agent had said there was something cheaper than this Group-card, which there isn’t, and then that it was only valid on the day of purchase, which isn’t true, either. This was the first DBBahn agent who had given me bad information.) This would save me 5 minutes the next morning. This card, at €42, was valid for both of us (and more, actually) and cost some less than individual round trip tickets, so a bargain. We had a lovely if late dinner with several of his colleagues at La Cocina again.

    Wednesday—Wörms

    This was to be the day I met up with Mainhattengirl (M for the rest of this!), as she’d graciously figured out how to fit me in her busy week. I’d really wanted to see Wörms again (DH and I had spent a few hours there in 1988), and she said she didn’t know it as well as she’d like to, so we agreed on this destination, planning to meet before 8 at the Frankfurt Hbf and try to catch an 8:10 or 8:17 train.

    This was also the day we had to change hotels—sad face! So we had to check out and put luggage in the car, where it would spend the day. DH had me at the station by 7:15, there was a train leaving in like 2 minutes, I jumped on, and I was in Frankfurt before 7:30. It was rather chilly in the station, but I found a couple warm places to “hide,” and I used the WC, which had not been open in 2012! About 10 til 8 M appeared at the appointed place! Yay! We grabbed a cinnamon bun and headed to the 8:10 train; the trip, with an easy quick change at Biblis, took about 70 minutes. We talked the whole way; we don’t know each other but found we share some common interests and opinions and travel experiences (she has tons more of that than me!).

    Wörms was beautiful, the day was sunny, and the day was great! Wörms is busy but not hard to get around in, and we walked to all the places we saw with no trouble. I’m so glad we got to do this.

    First we headed to the TI; M wanted info on the hours for a couple sites so we could arrange our day. She wanted to concentrate on the Jewish history here; I was interested in anything as long as I got to go into the Dom again! Neither of us is Jewish, but we both have a great appreciation for that culture, heritage and history. M is a great history buff, and she is now learning as much as she can about the history of Jewish communities in Germany. On the way to the TI, it didn’t take long for us to spot some Stolpersteine. Then we walked past the large Luther memorial. We also saw lots of charming dragons; it seems these may be a fund-raising project by the Lions Club. (In Texas I have seen guitars in Austin and porpoises in Corpus Christi along the same idea, I think—combo art project and charity event.) M learned that the synagogue and mekwe were open until early afternoon, so we headed to those sights first. As we walked down Judengasse, M showed me the little “girls” on the metalwork that holds shutters. She said they were common, but I’d never noticed them but began to the rest of this trip; it’s like learning a new word and then you start hearing it a lot!

    We began with the synagogue; I learned about its important connection with Rabbi Raschi who I knew little about. Begun in 1034 and reconstructed in the 12th c, it had been destroyed in 1938/41 but reconstructed in the 1961. Visiting sites like this is sobering but important to me. It is now a memorial and place of prayer but not a functioning synagogue. As we left, two Hassidic men were putting on very beautiful prayer shawls and tefillin, I assume to have a special season of prayer there. Next we entered the nearby ritual bath—the mikwe similar to the one I’d visited in Speyer. To trod the steps thousands have is amazing. We next went into a museum housed in the Raschi House; I was deeply struck by seeing charred remnants of a Torah that had been damaged on Kristallnacht. Reading facts and dates is one thing; seeing physical evidence is another.

    We saw a WWI memorial and the Roschi wall, as well as had a quick look inside St. Martin church. I think we had lunch in here sometime. Since M was my “tour guide” and she, not I, had the map, I am not sure which ways we wandered. But we found good, and huge, meals at a kebab place—I had a doner and she had a lahmacun, I think.

    Then we went into the Dom, the cathedral of St. Peter. In 1988 on my first trip to Europe, this was the first cathedral I had ever been into. It amazed me with its massiveness and size as well as its history. I remembered two things mainly. First, the Romanesque bulk and weight had a beauty to it that surprised me; my “head-knowledge” of cathedrals came from images of Gothic structures. Second, on the day we visited back in ’88, there was some sort of festival going on, and little kids were stacking up Coke cans and tossing balls at them, using the 1000-year-old cathedral foundations as their backstop. This juxtaposition of old and new, as well as the sense of the continuity of life and community through centuries of change and upheaval left a deep impression with me that changed me somehow, that made me more aware of the bigness of the world and history in a way that has stayed with me. So I was very glad to be returning to Wörms’ Dom this day. Now that I’ve also seen the other 2 Imperial Doms in Mainz and Speyer, I was also glad to revisit this one. And it didn’t disappoint. It is still vast and massive, alive and full of memory. We greatly enjoyed our time there. (And after I re-visited Mainz the next day, I decided I think Wörms is prettier.)

    The next major goal was the oldest extant Jewish cemetery in Europe. But on the way there, we passed by the Museum of the City, housed in a 12th/13th c. church in Romanesque style, and decided to go in. It was free and well worth our time; it covers mostly the city’s early history, with some pre-history and lots of Roman relics, but continues the city’s story through the centuries. The cloister is pretty, too, and we peeked in the small church attached.

    Then it was on to the Jewish cemetery. This one, unlike the one in Frankfurt, has not been damaged; there are 2500 gravestones here, some nearly 1000 years old. A walk around this quiet memorial was a fitting end to this full day. The Jewish community in Wörms, such a huge important part of this city for centuries, doesn’t exist today. The residents worship in Mainz or elsewhere. All that remain now are the places we visited today; but these are keeping the reality of the memories, the impact, the results of decisions, alive and in the present, so that is a good thing. There can be hope.

    We headed back to the train station (which is quite interesting looking), caught a train in just a few minutes (there were options about every 30 minutes, I think), changed easily at Biblis again, and got back to Frankfurt Hbf about 5; we bade each other fare-well, and I went on to Höchst. DH and I had discussed several ways to handle meeting/driving to the new hotel/checking in, etc. What we ended up with was his picking me up at the “regular station” about 6, and we drove, in lots of traffic, to the hotel-for-a-night, the Steigenberger Airport. We were trying to meet his colleague at 7 for dinner, so at the hotel he left me in the car in the front, checked in, and took one bag up—and discovered that the room had a single “standard” (smaller than an American double) instead of a king bed. But no time to handle that now; his paperwork indicated king; he figured the company travel agent had messed up (again). Anyway, we wiggled (literally) around a maze of streets in the middle of Hattersheim and ended up having to call the guy—the restaurant was in a pedestrian/market area. So….anyway, we found it, he helped us find a place to park, and we had most excellent tapas at Müller Bistro in Hattersheim. I can’t recommend it as easy to find! But it had great food. When we got back to the hotel, we found that, yep, the agent had “requested” but not secured a king bed, and as the hotel was now full (all those music-fest-show folks!), there was nothing else available! So we had a not-too-restful night. It wasn’t the hotel’s fault, but we will now always associate that hotel with tiny-ness—tiny bed, tiny room. It was one of those where there’s not even a separate bathroom but has the shower and water closet doors opening directly into the tiny room. Plus a public parking garage instead of lot (€19 for one night!), plus we were just irritated at the having-to-move thing to begin with. Looking forward to going back to the Dorint!

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    Thursday—Mainz

    I had loved Mainz in 2012 but had only had a half day there, seeing mostly the Dom, the Gutenberg Museum and St. Stephan’s. I wanted to go back to have another look around, even repeating some stuff. I didn’t need to go back to the Gutenberg Museum, which is absolutely wonderful, not to be missed, but I had spent plenty of time there. I’d considered different routes from this “new” hotel; there’s a free shuttle to the airport, so I could have done that and found my way to the airport train station and had a short S-Bahn ride to Mainz. But I opted to do the familiar and accompanied DH back to Höchst on his way to work; it’s not out of his way to go by the station, and while the ride from Höchst to Mainz is longer than from the airport, once I’d added in shuttle plus tram plus figuring stuff out, I probably traveled just as fast.

    We left about 7:30 I think, and I discovered I had some issue with my phone so I didn’t have BlackberryMessenger (BBM) capability, which is how DH and I communicate; texting and phone worked, so I wasn’t going to be incommunicado at least. I don’t have many qualms about traveling anywhere in Germany now alone as long as I had pretty direct and quick contact with DH via my phone! I bought a day-ticket which included Mainz for €15.50 and boarded an S-Bahn pretty soon. But I was tired and a bit distracted by the morning’s stress, so when I got to Frankfurt, I got a bit muddled about what transport to catch; I had too many permutations written down and mixed up in my head! So I missed a couple options, but finally I figured it (back) out and headed on an S-Bahn to Mainz, getting off at the Römisches Theater stop, which would be closer for my purposes than the main station.

    I had found @ http://www.mainz.de/WGAPublisher/online/html/default/MKUZ-5U6GQL.EN.0 (Landeshauptstadt Mainz’s website) some self-guided walking tours with maps that I had printed out. I didn’t want to do any of them exactly, although they all looked great, but I used the info and directions, even if working backwards, and custom-made a walk of my own.

    First, after a bit of looking around to figure it out as nothing is marked, I walked up a path from the station so that I ended up overlooking the ruins of the amphitheater, the largest north of the Alps they say. It is still undergoing some work—I don’t know if all the “digging” part is done, but they have poured concrete tiers of seating that makes it look like reconstruction or something is planned. I’m really “into” Roman ruins and remain in a semi-serious way, since I have a love of history and actually teach the rise and fall of the Roman Empire to 9th graders. DH and I try to at least get a glance at Roman sites when we can; I’ve stood in the Roman coliseum and sat on Tarragona’s amphitheater’s seats, so seeing this work in progress at a similar structure was fun. Then I continued up the hill and had a close-up look at the Mainzer Zitadelle, noting the big wall and walking through the gate into the open public-use space behind. There’s a Roman foundation somewhere here, the Drusus stone, which looks huge in photos but somehow I didn’t find it, not having exact directions. Anyway, I walked on up the hill behind the citadel and found a bench/terrace overlooking the city and had a nice short rest and good view. And I called Sprint and got my phone snafu corrected.

    Then up some more to St. Stephan’s and the Chagall windows. I had been thoroughly awed by them in 2012 and decided since I was sorta close, I would make a short stop again. I’m glad I did. The organist was filling the air with notes that danced on the blue light streaming from those amazing windows. This time I had a deeper appreciation, as I had learned a little more about Chagall’s motivation; coming from a Jewish background, he took on the work in his 90’s as an expression of reconciliation and unity between Christian and Jewish communities. Lovely.

    Next I walked downhill through Schiller Plaza with its unique statue of the carnival festivities of Mainz. Soon I arrived, via the pedestrian area near the Gutenberg statue, at the Markt at the Dom. Here I stood near the pillar and contacted DH via BlackberryMessage (IM’s) so he could connect to a website and see me on the Mainz webcamwhich is mounted across from the Dom and looks across the market area. Landeshauptstadt Mainz’s webpage has several webcams listed; DH discovered the one with the Dom in it some years ago, and we’ve located each other standing there, him once and me twice. Silly!

    Then I went into the Dom for a good visit. Romanesque cathedrals can be a bit dark, but today’s lovely sun outside was streaming in here, too, making it most beautiful. And an organist was practicing here, too. So nice. It is impossible to really imagine all the people who have turned their hearts to praise and worship here over the centuries, and I am so blessed to walk in these ways, too.

    The market area is so picturesque and the sun and blue sky were just adding to that, so I took some pictures even though I had plenty from 2012! I found some light lunch at a bakery right across from the Gutenberg Museum and ate while I enjoyed people-watching for a bit. (Let me insert here that the Gutenberg Museum should not be missed on a first visit to Mainz!) Then I felt up to some more strolling. My arm was continuing to be quite painful in certain positions and had also hampered my sleeping some, so I was tiring out and needed to rest more than I usually do. (It can’t have anything to do with being older, right?!)

    My plan was to walk along the river for a while to the Elector’s Palace and see the Romische Museum there. This was a pleasant walk, now warm enough to take my jacket off. The park area was bustling with walkers, bikers, moms with kids, runners. I stopped at a piece of the Berlin wall displayed near the old bridge. At the museum in its lovely red baroque home, I was disappointed to not be able to take photos, not even non-flash. So while I’d allowed 2 hours, I spent maybe an hour here. With nothing to read, as almost nothing is in English, and no photo-taking, I went quickly. By this time in my “Roman-artifacts-in-a-museum” experience (in Rome, Köln, Tarragona, Paris, and London, for example), I have a good idea what most stuff is in general but would have stopped to read specifics if there had been some I could read. It is a nicely done presentation with cool stuff, but I was done fast.

    I headed now to the Römer Passage; I found more Stolpersteine. Coming from Groβe Bleiche, I turned left on the pedestrian way of Lotharstraβe leading to this shopping area. Right inside the “mall” to the right is the Taberna Archaelogica, the entrance to the Temple of Isis and Mater Magna, an excavation lying under the modern mall. Talk about juxtaposition! Again, nothing in English to read, so I hurried through. A nice gentleman at the desk upstairs took time to tell me a little in English, restating what I in general knew about its being found in 2000 and being significant because it shows what worship was like, blending these two cults and existing as late as the 3rd C. It is free and worth a stop. Great that they saved it and are using it as a teaching tool, too—while modern life (well, the cult of consumerism, one could say!) flourishes a few feet away. At the other end of the Römer Passage, I got some chocolate gelato—yum.

    Another thing I wanted to do was have another walk through the Aldstadt with a look at the half-timbered buildings. So I headed that direction and wandered around in the maze of streets; I learned that the street signs are color-coded: red for streets leading to or from the river, blue for those that parallel it. Well, sorta! There were lots of people shopping and having drinks of various sorts. This area has great charm and I’m glad I spent some time. When I passed by St. Augustine church, I stopped in; I remembered thinking it was pretty and I found it so again, light and bright and gilded.

    Next I headed toward the river to the 19th C. Fort Malakoff area and, passing through the Templer Gates, enjoyed the park area here, too. Again, there were lots of people skating and running and walking and pushing strollers, all enjoying this glorious weather. I was done earlier than I had thought, but I was tired and decided to just head back to Höchst. I waited a little at the station then caught an S-bahn to Frankfurt where I got a smoothie and looked around in a bookshop before taking another S-bahn to Höchst and waited for a little for DH. We checked back into the Dorint with no problems and ate at the hotel.

    Friday—Frankfurt and Höchst

    This was again a day I hadn’t settled on until the very last minute. M had said the flowers would probably be blooming and making the Palmengarten lovely; I’d not been there. So I decided the Palemengarten and then Höchst, which had always been in my tentative plans for this day, and then a rest.
    DH dropped me at the station, and I got a day ticket and rode a train into Frankfurt about 8. The cool thing about these Day-tickets is that, like a Rail Pass, they are good for any transport generally all day, so I’d just take what was convenient; having flexibility is great for the tourist like me!

    At the Hbf, I went to the TI to get a Frankfurt map, as I’d lost mine, and to ask about the tram. I thought maybe I’d take the tram to the Palmengarten as I was in no hurry. The lady said that would be better than the U-bahn as I’d be above ground on this again lovely day. And I’m not a fan of the bus. So right across the street from the station, I caught a tram, along with a busload of excited little kids! When they got off a few stations later, the quiet was deafening! Ha! I rode to Brockheim Mitte, and from there it was about a 10 minute walk past the Goethe University library and a strange sculpture of a U-bahn car plunging into the ground—it’s the entrance to Brochenheimer Warte U-bahn station.

    I went into the Palmengarten about 9 and spent over 2 most pleasant hours there. So much was blooming already—the crocuses, daffodils in seas like Wordsworth saw, jonquils, snow drops—nice. And the whole garden is beautiful, with waterfalls and curving paths and greenhouses for things like palms and cacti. I was about to leave when I noticed a sign for an orchid exhibit—wow!!! I didn’t know there were so many kinds. Dozens and dozens with thousands of blooms. And dozens and dozens of admirers, many with cameras. I’m glad I noticed this, as it was wonderful. I made my way back to the tram and rode, changing at a station before the Hbf, all the way out to Höchst. This took a while (maybe 30 minutes?), but I was in no hurry.

    At Höchst, the tram left me off quite a bit further away from the train station, from whence I had my bearings, than I thought, but I walked a couple blocks and saw the station, so I sorta knew where I was. I didn’t have a map. I then spent a couple hours in Höchst. I went to the market area and looked to see if I could go in the Schloss, which I could, for free, but it’s basically a few rooms with a few pieces of art. But I wandered around the outside a bit; it’s nice there next to the river, and there’s a café people were filling up. You can walk in the empty moat around there, too. Then I confirmed that St. Justine’s church, the oldest building in Frankfurt, was not going to be open, so I just walked around its outside, too.

    Höchst has recently been added to Germany’s Deutsche Fachwerkstraße (Timber Frame Road), and several lovely such buildings are right there around the market and visible from the schloss and the church area. I also went through the Main Gate nearby which leads to the nice open area by the Main River, but I didn’t walk far. DH and I had had a nice long walk here in ’12; I highly recommend it, but I had had MY long walk at the Palmengarten already. There were a few other places I’d considered finding, but I was tired. I went looking for fruit, found a Rewe market on Konigsteinerstrasse which is a pedestrian street, noticed Magnum bars, and just grabbed a sandwich and Coke, plus apple and Magnum bar, and ate there (few benches outside were full).

    Then I went to the train station and got a taxi. I showed the driver the address and he said it would be about €11. He mis-read my written instructions and took me to the MainTaunusZentrum mall, near the Dorint, so when I explained, he turned his meter off, at over €12 and took me to the hotel; we called it fair at €12. I rested; that night we had one last meal at La Cocina with a colleague DH hadn’t gotten to see much this trip; they had a good visit and we all had good food.

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    Saturday—Würzburg

    With the hope that DH would not have to work this day, I had picked a couple places we might do a short day-trip to, knowing that it would depend on his work schedule, how he felt, and the weather. The top contender was Würzburg; we’d been there in 1988 as our first stop on a week-long loop, seeing just the Festung briefly, but DH didn’t remember it at all. Well, he didn’t have to work on Saturday, but he was pretty worn out. Plus this was the worst weather day of the whole time. It was in the 30s and drizzly and windy and dark when we got up. I said that not going anywhere was a fine option, but after a slow, un-rushed start, by about 9:00 DH said let’s go. So we got ready and left a little after 10, planning to get him an Egg McMuffin at some McD’s as we headed out of town. We got to one at 10:30, and they switched the menu to lunch! So we just had a very-unusual-for-us McD’s early lunch, as we were there and it would save a stop.

    In 2012 on our trip to Bamberg we had experienced horrible traffic on A3, especially on the return, so he was dreading the drive somewhat. We did have some slow-down south of Aschaffenburg when the highway goes to 2-lanes through the mountainous/hilly areas, but it wasn’t horrible.

    Using “Sheila’s” instructions, we found pretty easily the Marienberg parking area—and it was full. We could not find a spot anywhere, and it started to rain pretty steadily, and it was cold and windy, DH was feeling pretty bad, and traffic was awful. We certainly were not interested in walking from town up to the Festung, so we had to give up that visit. I said let’s just forget the whole thing, but DH said not yet. We found a parking space in town, and he closed his eyes and promptly fell asleep! I watched it rain and then begin to stop for about 45 minutes. By the time he’d woken up a little after 1, he felt better, the sun was coming out a bit, and he said he felt like taking a walk. So we did have a few hours in Würzburg.

    First we walked toward the market area, past St. Mary’s Chapel (peeked in), and on to the Dom. This is the 4th largest Romanesque church in Germany, after Mainz, Worms, and Speyer (which I probably don’t have in the right order). All nice. Lots of people out. A fresh produce market. The main goal was to see the Residenz, which had an English tour at 3. We got there about 2:40, deposited our camera and backpacks in a locker (boo, no photos!), and looked around just a bit. At 3 there were about a half dozen of us on the tour, and the guide was fantastic, giving lots of information and details about the structure and artwork and such. I loved walking on that amazing staircase, but I’m glad I wasn’t sporting one of those big wigs! The tour lasted about an hour; after that, we walked around the garden area for a while and decided we’d just grab some sandwiches somewhere and hit the road. So we walked pretty directly to the river, purchasing to-go dinner along the way, to the Alte Mainbrucke; we took some photos of ourselves on the bridge and of the Marienberg looming above, but we forgot to find a spot to take a picture OF the bridge. Oh well! A brief walk took us back to the parking lot (where our parking permit had only been good til 3:40, with parking free after 4, but we didn’t have a ticket or a towed-away car!) and began the journey home. Traffic was unexpectedly pretty light and always flowing, so it was much easier than he’d feared. We got back to the hotel, even with a stop for gas, before dark. Packed up and got ready for departure.

    Sunday--Travel Home Day

    For our 9 am flight, we left the hotel about 6:30 and turned in the car before 7. Then we had a short check-in, no trouble with passport, headed to the AA lounge where we got a bite of breakfast, and rested just a bit. About 8 we went through security, which was the longest line we had but not too bad, and we were at our gate by 8:15. The flight left on time, business class was again spoiling-ly roomy, and we landed in DFW on time. (I watched 6 hours of David Tennet’s 8-episode Broadchurch—enjoyed that, but still had about 5 more hours!) At DFW we had only 75 minutes until boarding, so we were a bit concerned. But everything went ok; we had longish lines at customs/passport but not bad. We even had time for an ice cream and got to our gate 15 minutes before boarding—to find that there was no crew and we ended up being delayed almost an hour. But we got home safe and sound, so all good!

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    Wonderful trip report and fun to read your impressions of what we saw together.

    I really enjoyed exploring Worms with you and wish we could have done Mainz and Höchst together. Let me know the next time you are traveling here again so we can plan more adventures!

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    Thanks, all, for the kind words; DH thinks I tend to put too many personal details in! (So, jaja, he doesn't like me to post personal specifics, but I'm somewhat near you. Go out and look at the bluebonnets now--it will make your exile seem less...exiled! Ha!)

    Mainhattengirl--I echo what you said to me back to you and of course I will let you know! Nothing in the future right now, but then, this trip was last minute, too. All the best to you and yours.

    Lavandula--Thanks for that--I meant to put the link to the other trip report. If anyone is interested, here it is: http://www.fodors.com/community/europe/daytripping-for-two-weeks-or-more-in-the-frankfurt-area.cfm

    On that trip I/we went to Trier, the Black Forest, Berg Eltz and Braunfels, some castles on the Rhein, Bamberg, Wartburg, Marburg, Mainz, Heidelberg, Buedingen, Aschaffenburg, Weisbaden, Koln, Nuremberg, and Frankfurt more than once.

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    I understand, tbw, and I now have you narrowed down (somewhat. even south Texas is a big place!).

    While I wasn't born there, I grew up in Oklahoma (however, it was in Texas County) so for the last 41 years I have considered myself part of the Okie Diaspora.

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