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Daytripping for Two Weeks (or more?) in the Frankfurt Area

Daytripping for Two Weeks (or more?) in the Frankfurt Area

Jul 23rd, 2012, 11:09 AM
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DW--Yes, sooo many day trips are possible; there were several places very worthy (like Wurzburg and Worms) that I didn't want to repeat from my 1988 trip, and I still had this huge list that didn't get all crossed off. I will be posting more days later so...stay tuned!
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Jul 23rd, 2012, 07:00 PM
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Day 17—Büdingen

This day I finally made it to Büdingen! And I’m very glad I did.

My regional day pass from RMV was €14.25 from the agent (machine won’t take my CC). I learned at Frankfurt Hbf today that two trains can be assigned to same platform; I was a little confused about that and asked an agent at the DB info desk in the station where my train, listed on the big board, was, as the one pulled into the front of the platform was not mine. I just had to walk down the long platform to my train parked behind; I didn’t see it pull in. Sometimes those boards list the Platform section to leave from, but this was not indicated anywhere I could see. I made it on the train with a few others and it left on time. The connection went perfectly, too,--arrived Gelnhausen, walked underground to other platform, train was waiting and left on time. Through the windows lovely countryside glided by. People were walking dogs and riding bikes through fields of grain. We arrived at the rather dumpy station; there isn’t even a platform here; we de-trained onto the tracks and walked through a now-open barrier arm.

I had several sets of directions and a map printed off, so I turned followed them and walked about 10 minutes along a modern street with some shops, banks, offices, and restaurants. Then it transitioned into a narrow cobblestone way, lined with half-timbered houses and approaching the Jerusalem Gate of the town walls. And so my almost 5 hours of walking around began.

It was charming; quaint; picturesque; wonderful that it has been so well-preserved. I looked around the area near the Gate for a bit, into a garden and along the walls. I followed my map and instructions--noting the frogs on several buildings--and got into the Market Square a bit before 10. First I found the free WC on the square and then went into the promptly-opened TI. There I got some info in English and a map. Then my day consisted of generally just wandering around trying to find all the sites and houses mentioned on the English info (which didn’t match the numbers on my map, so there was some backtracking, but nothing is very far, so it was ok). I took lots of photos. There were not many people. A lot of the time I was the only one on the streets that wasn’t obviously not a tourist--people delivering eggs, leaning out the window to talk to a passerby, setting up shop windows, working on the street repair. I liked being there as everyone went about their daily routine. I didn’t take their pics though I wanted to! The weather was mostly nice with clouds and a spot of sprinkle once or twice and approaching warm in later afternoon.

There are no fast foods or even any bakeries or even places to get water that I noticed in the aldstat--or many souvenirs. Several sit-down restaurants and cafes, but I did find at a doner place for falafel in pita and a coke, sitting down briefly for early lunch. Nobody else there until I left. At one point I walked back out the Gate and had ice cream and water right outside the walls. It is all so cute--so many houses centuries old, the small but pretty grounds of the castle/palace which people can walk through, the bridges and moat area beside the walls, the different towers. Büdingen is an incredible gem of place; I am so so glad that this day my travel plans worked.

By 2ish I had really seen about all I could (no access to actually walk ON the Walls that I could find—think you have to have a guide for that) and it was getting too hot and I was too tired to walk around the walls outside anymore. I went on back to the station for my 3:30 train (which I had to catch, as the 4:30 train took 2 hours instead of 1ish). The return trip was generally glitchless. We went to Bembelsche to share a great huge cheeseburger and then “home” for normal chores, but also had to use the internet for Forum confirmation of GTG with Mainhattengirl Thursday. Yay!
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Jul 23rd, 2012, 07:06 PM
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Day 18—Frankfurt Museums

Today I was going to head to the Museumsufer area where many museums line the south bank of the Main, and see what I felt like seeing. Before we parted at Höchst, DH got me the address for the British Bookshop near Hauptwache where I might go if I had time later to go. I got my Frankfurt ticket for €6.20 in cash from the machine; then S-Bahn and U-Bahn. The day had started out rainy looking, but when I got out at Shweizer Platz it was nicer. I walked to the river; I went the long way but that was ok; the walk from Alte Brucke toward the museums along the river is wonderful. It was a lovely morning with people hurrying to work via car, bike, and foot; people walking their dogs or babies leisurely; and people seeing the sights like me! This area of Sachsenhausen/south bank of the Main I think has seen quite an upgrade in the last several years; the park area running beside the river is wonderful.

I stopped at the big church next to the river, Dreikönigskirche, but it wasn’t open. I rested a couple times on benches and took lots of pics of the Frankfurt (Mainhatten!) skyline, the river area, and the bridges.. I got to the Staedel, about 9:30 and waited on a bench out front til 10. I bought the 2 day pass for €15. I had to leave my backpack, but it was free; I just transferred what I needed to a tote bag, which fit through the slot by which they gauge whether you can take your bag or not. Non-flash photos allowed.

I so thoroughly enjoyed the Städel. It’s a beautiful art museum with one floor of old masters, one modern (til 1945) and one contemporary. I loved it and stayed til about 1, with a short sandwich/coke break about 11 in the little café. A few pics by many masters--Chagall, Degas, Monet, Manet, Renoir, deGoya, etc. And Cranach. And a big picture of Goethe. But the contemporary floor--sorry, it just doesn’t do it for me. The space is itself is lovely. I’d never had so much time by myself in a big art museum, so this was a treat.

In the gift shop I found a small mug of Höchst porcelain with a poem by Goethe--triple souvenir! (art museum, Höchst, Frankfurt’s poet). Only €17. Cool. I figured I could get the poem (about ginko trees) translated later.

I rested outside a bit and then went to the Communications Museum. It was cute with hands on stuff for kids and displays of the history of writing, old telephones, how the mail was delivered, tv’s, etc. A fun and instructive place for kids. I spent about an hour.

The next museum was the Architecture--which is really a museum of architectural models. Interesting for about 30 minutes! (And it and every other museum tomorrow were now “free” because the Staedel was €12 and Communications €3 and my pass €15. This Museumsufer Pass was one of the best bargains in admissions I got the whole trip.)

I found my way very easily back to the Ubahn station and on to Hauptwache. From there it was about a 10 minute walk to the British BookShop. Ahhhh--words I can read! I DON’T expect English here in this country (except, to be honest, I did expect to find more English language material in some of the popular tourist places), but I did miss being able to read in bookstores! I perused the titles quietly in this tiny, crammed full store for 30 minutes or more. I almost bought a couple newer titles, but then I found a book of Goethe’s poems, including the one on my cup--Sold!

Back at the plaza in front of the Goethe statue I people watched and rested til about 4. I remembered one of the stories the guide told us last week; when Frankfurt citizens decided what to contribute their own limited funds to for restoration work after the WWII damage, the first thing they restored was Goethe’s house—not a cathedral or government building but the home of their beloved poet. I find that very moving. Gotta try Goethe again!

DH BBM’d me that he could leave early, so I headed and was back in only 20 minutes.We drove to Kronberg to where the Opel Zoo is to the restaurant called The Lodge. It wasn’t open til 6, 40 minutes, so we made reservations and took rest/nap in the car. We got to sit by the window and look out over the wildebeeste exhibit and the Koningstein landscape. Lovely. It was a very pricey place! Never had leather-bound menus. I had salad, drink and small portion of very good ravioli in cheese, not tomato, sauce and DH had a delicious steak, potato, salad, drink and shared chocolate dessert. It is a pretty locale and had very nice, but not fast, service.

Next day—my first Fodors GTG
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Jul 23rd, 2012, 07:27 PM
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I forgot an important thing I liked in Buedingen--I found several more of those "stolpersteine" those stones of stumbling, that we'd been shown in Frankfurt. These are by Gunter Demnig and each bronze marker commemorates a victim of the Holocaust. According to wikipedia there are over 30,000 of these so far. As our guide said, to see them you have to bend over a little, as if bowing in homage; and walking on them isn't a bad thing, as the abrasion polishes them. It is a very cool memorial, I think. I may have passed by some in other cities without knowing to look, too.
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Jul 24th, 2012, 02:31 PM
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Day 19—Frankfurt

Today would be my first Fodorite GTG, meeting Mainhattengirl at 8:30 at the Römer. I got my day ticket and with no delays or too much traffic got to the Dom about 8. It was rather cool and rainy looking and I went into the Dom foyer for a few minutes to warm up. Then out to the Römer which was much better looking this morning with no Iron Man equipment up. I took a picture of the book burning plaque and sat on a bench watching the tourist groups come and go already.

About 8:30 here came a lady with long brown hair, a blue messenger bag, and white tennis shoes, just as she had said. Hello, Mainhattengirl! We had coffee and tea and a talk at a little shop near Starbucks. We learned a little about each other and made a sorta plan. When I told her that I’d been on the walking tour last week and went over the things we saw, it turned out that many of the things she might have directed me to I’d already done, and some interesting places like Anne Frank’s house were further than I wanted to go, and it looked really rainy, too. So she might not be my “guide” all day, but we headed to a few places. (On the tour we’d seen these things, too , which I didn’t mention in the TR above: Karmeliterkloster’ murals, the Börse, the Museum Judengasse/Alter Judischer Friedhof, the outside of the Goethehaus, the Hauptwache, Alte Opera, and Paulskirche—see, I told you it was a wonderful tour!)

She really likes the Alte Nicolaikirche at the Römer which last week’s tour didn’t go in, so we went in and she told me about the windows which had been in a family’s chapel, having been made by a local artist, but had to be given up before WWII (I have forgotten exactly why). After the war, the son in law insisted the family get restitution and got them back and then donated all the treasures to places. So the artist helped put them in this church, adding some parts and making new windows, too. Local legend is that the artist’s self-portrait is the apostle John. These are the kind of details I enjoy and only get from people who know the area well.

Then we walked by a church, St. Leonhard, Alte Mainzer Gasse, being renovated which will reopen in a few years and..sorry, I can’t remember why it’s so significant! Oldest something, or I know it wasn’t damaged during WWII. Anyway, just looked outside.

Then on to the archeological museum which had just opened at 10, but we decided it wasn’t that important to me for her to have to pay admission for.

Then on to the Historisches Musem which has interesting info about Frankfurt’s history. We went up to the toll tower. But the coolest thing probably, which she was excited about, was what they had just uncovered. They are planning an extension to the museum (a design we saw later in this museum and that we agree is kinda ugly and sticks out into the Römer too much) and as they excavated, they uncovered remains of stuff. It turned out to be what looks like a harbor--a nicely crafted wall, walk, and a huge long beam. This would have been the area that the archbishop would have arrived at when emperors/kings were elected here all those centuries ago. From a few windows in the museum we could see into the work site. Very very cool. They may have to rethink their whole design now, as they are of course going to somehow preserve the find. It’ll be underwater sometime soon to preserve the wood, so it was good to see it now. Thanks, MHG, for sharing this find with me!

Then on across the river to a couple churches before we probably parted. Today Dreikönigskirche was open and MHG said she didn’t know much about it but we went in for a few minutes. It had been begun, I think, as a church for the poor and the working class, which is who lived on this bank. Then on to the church near Altebrucke which was begun by Teutonic Order of knights, begun in their original ministry of care for pilgrims and such. But as she warned, it wasn’t open.

We had had a nice time together, but now she suggested that since I had the Museumsufer Pass that I make good use of that; I’d seen, at least briefly, all that she would want to show me. So with a handshake and goodbye, I headed down the river side again. She’d suggested the Bibel, the Film and the applied arts museum and then I could go back to the archeological one if I wanted. Also it started light rain, which boded poorly for just walking around. I needed to find some food in one of them too!

First stop --Museum für Angewandte Kunst Frankfurt --The Museum of Applied Art. It’s like a teeny V&A, I guess, in terms of focus on much tinier scale. Cool though. I only looked at the floor with Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Baroque. Furniture, tapestries, tableware, a bit of clothing, clocks, locks, etc. No food.

Then I went to the Bible Museum--Bibelhaus am Museumsufer – Erlebnismuseum. This was also very fine, especially for children with lots of hands on stuff. I took pictures until I was told not to. There are several floors exploring biblical life as well as some of the history of the scriptures. There’s a replica of a boat from the Sea of Galilee, a garden with herbs and plants mentioned in the bible, nicely done displays with some English. Very good. But no food here either.

So I was pretty hungry and pretty close to the Städel, so I returned there, had lunch, and revisted some favorite spots like the Impressionists room.

Next stop was the Film Museum. It is so fun! Great displays; helpful staff; hands on activities; montages showing of Film Noir (their special exhibit now), early films (hilarious) and another of lots of movies I knew. I thoroughly enjoyed this museum; it’s good for old and young alike.

DH planned to meet me to eat in Sachsenhausen, with the bembel store as our meeting point. Two restaurants that MHG recommended were very near there, so when he left work, he let me know, I left the Film Museum, and when I got to the bembel store, he was pulling into—surprise!—a parking place on the street! Said in his 3 or 4 other visits to the area he’d never found one so convenient.

The restaurant, Dauth Schneider, was actually in sight from where we were—he then remembered he’d eaten there before. Maybe. There seem to be at least 2 and maybe 3 restaurants all next to each other (they seem to even share toilette space) and open out to a common outdoor eating area, so he’s not positive which restaurant he ordered from before! But we sat outside (a little brisk but ok) and thoroughly enjoyed our dinners which were definitely from Dauth Schneider. Had the apfelwein; it wasn’t to my taste too much but not bad; better than a sip of hard cider I had in Cheddar one time!

After dinner we had a walk so he could show me what he remembered as interesting in Sachsenhausen, strolling some of the cobblestoned streets and looking for the bronze apples occasionally in the stones. We found the spitting woman fountain, too. Ha. Then on across the Eisner Steg where we admired the lovers’ locks like the ones I’d seen on the Koln bridge. After I’d seen them on the walking tour last week, he, being a romantic, had talked about finding one and doing the ceremony ourselves, but we hadn’t found a lock yet. It’s the thought that counts! I told him I thought we’d demonstrated we were pretty committed without the gesture. We went to the Römer as the shadows began to lengthen a bit and then back to car and to hotel. I had a little too much time on my feet this day; I didn’t have a real desired destination for the next day so figured I’d take a rest day!

Day 20
So I did. Rested, read, typed, used the internet, sorted out clothes and all the memorabilia I’d been collecting in my accordion folder, ate delicious seafood bisque in hotel for lunch, and made some tentative plans for my last two days. And as it rained, really hard several times, all day, my decision to not travel looked better and better! For dinner we went to a restaurant DH had been to before in Bad Soden, right across from the Kurpark—Kurshranke. The service was very very slow, but the food—soup, salmon, chicken, salads—was scrumptious.

Coming up--our last two Day-Trips-by-Car!
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Jul 24th, 2012, 02:39 PM
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Day 21—Burg Eltz and Braunfels (and another surprise stop in between)

Number One on my list when I first started planning had been Burg Eltz because DH had had such a good time when he got to see it. However, getting there via public transport seemed a little daunting, so I dropped it. But with our unexpected weekends, DH was willing to revisit it. Yay!

We left in the rain and it drizzled, dripped, and poured all morning. We drove to and along the Moselle Valley for just a few miles. It is beautiful even in the shrouds of mist and moisture. DH recognized several spots from his drive before, but he had been across the river.

We drove to the Burg Eltz parking lot; when DH was here before, he and workmate had parked at Mozelkern and hiked the about-an-hour walk, but this day we had opted to save time and legs by not doing this. Good decision, especially in the weather. We walked the short hike on a paved road to the castle. We spent about 2 hours. We had an English guided tour, but unlike when DH was here before they didn’t allow photos. I’m always bummed when that happens. This is a remarkable place and I see why it’s so high on everyone’s “favorite castles of Germany” lists. Its craggy perch and many-leveled building design reminded me of Rheinstein, but there’s much more intact or original here. The drippy weather making outside views not so great and the photo ban preventing pix inside were a bit of a downer, but I still enjoyed it immensely. We could have spent longer enjoying the views and the grounds if the weather had been better. In some ways seeing such a castle with the glistening surfaces and the reflecting drops is rather evocative and probably very much what former inhabitants experienced often (usually?), but we tourists, especially we with cameras, like our weather served up bluer and drier! We gladly paid €3 to ride the shuttle van back up to the lot.

We then headed east towards Braunfels through the lovely German countryside. Near Koblenz DH got off and wiggled with Sheila’s help through traffic and a busy, modern shopping area to get to a McD’s—coke with ice and clean free WC’s are always a draw for him; we ate while it was convenient, too, except it was so busy we ate in the car because no room to sit. Then we wiggled some more and headed—into Koblenz. It turned out he wanted to show me Deutsche Ecke, the confluence of the Moselle and Rhine with its big wedge-shaped monumental area, which he’d enjoyed on a freezing cold day a few years ago. We were so close and had the time, and I hadn’t had time to make it here on my own, so he surprised me with a brief stop. Sweet.

We paid 40 cents for a parking place near the monument; I got out while he looked for spot, which didn’t actually exist in this lot after all! It had mostly stopped raining and there were lots of people in the area. I enjoyed the views and waited by the American flag, then got a text from DH saying, “Did you see the Berlin Wall?” I had noticed it but didn’t remember what I was seeing, so started back and met DH there. He’d parked not far away (not in a lot). Seeing the Berlin Wall pieces was quite moving for me, touching their pockmarks and appreciating the sacrifices and determinations that ensured their tardy removal. The sky was clearing, people were strolling, the flags were flying, the rivers were rushing—it was a great stop. We just spent a few minutes admiring the views and then had to head so we’d get to Braunfels in time to get in.

One of our favorite Texas get-aways is New Braunfels in the Hill Country near San Antonio. Its founder had come from Braunfels, Germany, and on one of his trips, DH had come here but arrived too late to get in the castle. This day, though, we arrived about 3. This is a lovely, lovely castle. The tours are only in German (without prior arrangement, I think), but it turned out there was a pleasant young man who spoke good English on the tour who translated a few key things. Also the tour guide spoke excellent English and was happy to answer our questions; she just didn’t have time to translate her whole spiel in each room. We saw “Texas Karl’s” picture in one room; I told the guide our New Braunfels connection; she was all smiles about that and told the group. The tour—also no photos inside allowed—sigh—shows many of the palace rooms and treasures inside with a couple stops outside. Before and after, we walked around the grounds and admired the views which were lovely as the rain had mostly abated. I am so glad DH picked this place! It’s not on lists but I’d recommend it.

The drive back was not too bad, and we arrived about 6 and had salads in the hotel.
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Jul 24th, 2012, 02:44 PM
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Day 22--Bamberg

Bamberg was another of those places that was on my short list but I decided not to try by public transport. Now that I had a driver though---! We headed east, in some rain, toward Bamberg, mostly on the A3 which had some slow downs especially around Wurzburg, but the drive was a little under the predicted 2.5 hours.

We found the TI office about 9:40; there seemed to be zero spots left anywhere near to park on the street, so we used the garage next to the TI--€6. It had stopped raining and was turning out to be a pretty, even beautiful day, with only a very few light brief sprinkles. In the TI for €10.50 (and the deposit of my passport!) I rented the 4-hour audio guide, with 2 headsets, with English-language walking tour around the old city, with a map. We basically followed that; DH said it was the silliest thing we’d ever done but in a good way! It was mostly really good for finding and giving a few details about the main spots in the old town. I can highly recommend the guide; this ended up being the only such one I rented from a TI office, but I know I had seen such mentioned from a few other places. For the solo traveler or the ones like us with not much time and not a lot of info with us about some city/town, they might be a really good option.

Bamberg is a great old town! Since I’d decided back in the US not to go on my own, I hadn’t brought my research with me. But we saw plenty anyway. The bridges and houses and winding streets, the cathedral and monastery perched high above—so absolutely picturesque. And hoards of people agreed this day! It was about as crowded, people per square foot, as Heidelberg had been. But still fun.

We just wandered with our camera, audio guide, and maps til about 11, which found us at the foot of the hill to the Cathedral, which wasn’t, of course, open to sight-seers yet on this Sunday morning. So we took a break and had a sit-down lunch outside at a really good place—Scheiners am Dom-- that had quick and smiling service and delicious food. I had chicken with herb butter and potatoes and DH had fish and veggies. And coke with actual pieces of ice! An older German couple sat beside us on the benches, and they tried to have a conversation with us, which we tried to have, too! We think he said he was a prisoner of war, in Ipwich but mentioned Salt Lake City, too. He said he was 81. If we understood what he said about being a POW, he must have joined up when he was 14 or 15? Wish we had been able to hear more of his story. They were headed to the Cathedral after their break, too.

Then onto the Dom area about noon, but it wouldn’t be open til 12:30, so we went around to some nearby sites on the audio guide like the old court area and the rose garden. The views were gorgeous, except for that ominous black cloud rolling in. It did start to sprinkle as we stood on the steps and the skies threatened to open up, but it mostly passed by, even when we were inside. It is an interesting cathedral. One big draw is the Ritter/Reiter statue, one of the oldest equestrian statues, probably first “they” know about since ancient times. I’d forgotten about reading about this, until we saw little Playmobil models in the TI office! Anyway we enjoyed the attractions of such a cathedral—the sculptures, stone work, amazing arches and heights and windows, the tombs, the play of light on the surfaces.

Then we walked back to the TI past a couple other places and turned in our equipment right at the 4 hour mark. Got my passport back and we bought a few souvenirs—two of the Reiter Playmobils! One for my class room and one for a little friend. We got directions to the nearest ice cream and walked to the end of the next bridge and had a rest in the shade with our cones until about 2:30. DH had originally said he’d want to leave no later than 2, but he enjoyed the town more than he thought he would, I think, so he wasn’t rushing. We enjoyed the market bustle going on including street performers and lots of happy children. It was great.

However, what was not great was A3 going back. It was horrible. There were several serious delays and even stops from near Wurzburg all the way to west of Ashaffenburg. Notoriously awful, we heard later. Main autobahn from Austria all the way through Germany. And on a decent summer Sunday afternoon, it was overfull. It took a bit over 3 hours. No more driving—dinner in hotel!
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Jul 25th, 2012, 04:51 AM
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Day 23—Idstein and Frankfurt

The weather forecast was rain, I would be going to Nürnberg tomorrow; I couldn’t see the church in Höchst on this Monday, and Bad Homberg wasn’t to my taste this day. So I decided I wanted to go some place close for the morning and into Frankfurt for the afternoon to stroll the Zeil which would be good if weather was bad as I could duck into stores. Mainhattengirl had recommended Idstein a bit north as a cute quiet little town to wander streets of for a few hours. So my plan became Idstein in the morning then Frankfurt.

In the Höchst station, the helpful agent sold me my day ticket (€14.25 for Idstein and Frankfurt) and made some reservations for me on the ICE for Nuremburg tomorrow.

Idstein is a short ride away, and as I had an early drop-off, I loitered and still got there 8:30. It was coolish but not raining. It is a nice station for a small town, and right outside to the left is an info-map, which is helpful. I had a vague google-informed idea of just walking from there to the center of the old town, and that’s basically what the map said. Except it’s downhill all the way so I knew I’d have a climb! It’s just your basic mix of modern and older fairly neat suburban street. Very quiet. Then in the center of the old town, where the Rathaus and the TI are, it’s a really pretty market square. HOWEVER, the TI is closed on Monday! Several of the buildings are under renovation, so the picture-esque-ness is a bit hindered. Still it was quiet and pretty. But small. I walked around to a little garden area and the Hexentower (also not open of course!) and took some pics. I decided that this wasn’t a bust but I didn’t have anything to stay for. Next train 10:20. So I got a brunch sandwich bun and sat and enjoyed the beautiful morning right near the market square and then walked slowly uphill to the station and waited a few minutes.

I decided to go browsing in Frankfurt, with a few other “maybe” destinations, depending on the weather (which was off and on cool and cloudy/puffy clouds and warm). I strolled the Zeil for quite some time. I went into the Galeria, much like an American Macy’s, and into MyZeil which has that amazing (and leaking?) vortex/swirl architecture structure. This was really a nice contrast, all this glass and metal and neon compared with the stones and stairs and stained glass of the last few places I’d been. (I prefer the stones and stairs and stained glass for looking at, but sure appreciate the electricity and escalators for daily living and shopping!) I didn’t buy anything other than a couple lacy scarves. And I definitely didn’t get in the queue to go into Hollisters, either! What a hoot—a line to go INTO a clothing store!?

Next I went into the Dom just for a moment of quiet rest and good-bye. Then, per Mainhattengirl’s unique suggestion, I rode the U-Bahn to the main cemetery, which is a little north of the greenbelt which marks the old city wall. Yes, this is random! But if I can navigate safely to such an unusual but not too out of the way place, I somehow feel I have “conquered” the public transport. Well, conquered isn’t the right word for Frankfurt, but I definitely feel more confident about it now. The cemetery has an ugly white entrance, but inside is like a lovely park, with paths and lush green bushes, tall trees and carefully tended and flower-decorated monuments. There were a few people and a few benches. I didn’t spend long but I can see how this would be a good place for a walk. I then U-andS-Bahned to Eisener Turm and went into the anlage/park and found a bench in the sunshine and read for a while. It was now grey and chilly but it was a nice rest.

I had an unhurried, remark-less travel back and for one last time we went to La Cucina, but this time with 4 of the people from work. It was a pleasant relaxing evening.

Day 24--Nürnberg

Last day to sightsee! I had discussed with Mainhattengirl what I should do with the last day on my RailPass. From my preferences and others’ suggestions, I was rethinking Wurzburg, Worms, or back to Mainz and/or Weisbaden. But she’d suggested I go someplace further, someplace it would normally cost a bit to get to so as to get value from my pass and said I’d like Nuremburg. In investigating that idea, I decided that was a good plan; a 2-ish hour ride from Frankfurt each way would still, if I left really early, like 6:54, leave me with about 5-6 hours to see a few things, so I decided I’d try that. I didn’t do lots of reading or planning; I figured I’d find the TI, get a map, and head to 3-4 main sites. (I found I’d need a car to see anything connected with the post-war trials or the pre-war rallies, which is what I associate Nuremberg with, but that was ok; I’d see what I could in walking distance.)

DH was willing to enable me to get to an early train, so we got up early and I got on the 6:54 ICE to Munich which left on time. I found my car/wagon and looked for my seat; hmm, where is it? Then I realized it was in one of those little closed-off 6 person compartments. Nice. A young man came in right after me; he spoke excellent English and was also surprised to have a compartment seat. We talked a little. He had lived for a few months as a boy in Texas and was on his way for a meeting in Nuremburg. He said sometimes he drove, sometimes he took the train, but the A3 was so bad—HA! Don’ I know it!—that it made more sense to use the train sometimes, especially as he could work on a train after meetings. I told him of our driving experience the day before. Unfortunately normal, he said.

We had a delay near Hanau; he translated announcements for me. On the ICE the recorded station/welcome info is in English (and French?) also, but when conductors come on to make announcements, I did not hear any English. Which can make it disconcerting when everyone starts darting around, like the time I was near Hanau on my way to Büdingen! But today there was just a minor delay; we ended up getting to Ashaffenburg 40 minutes late, but I think our arrival in Nuremburg was only 20-25 minutes late. The station was a surprise; very modern mall-like inside, very big and busy. I found the TI and got a map. It was damp and often sprinkling/blowing rain and quite cool.

I thought I could do 4 things: walk to the Kaiserberg and maybe inside but maybe not; go into the Durer house; see some of the wall and old city and squares and churches’ exteriors as I walked along; and visit the Germanisches Nationalmuseum. With my TI map, I headed, about 9:40, through the middle of the old town and to the Kaiserberg. The thick gray and imposing old town wall stands right outside the station. The town was much busier than I anticipated with tons and tons of children of all ages, mostly middle school and younger, on tours. I had read the city was very much rebuilt after WWII, and it did seem that roads and platzes and squares were a bit more open or uncluttered than I’d encountered. The pedestrian areas were wide and clean. Streets contained the “normal” mix of tacky modern, nice modern, and all kind of old architecture. There were of course several churches along my walk. A market of fresh food was in full swing, even in the sprinkling, in the market square.

After a steep walk, I arrived at the Kaiserberg which is perched on a hill abutting the city wall. It was full of kids having a blast climbing on the rocks and tower bases. It was after 10 and I could see much of the courtyard and outside stuff without going in for a tour of the insides, so I just saw what I could, including enjoying some commanding views of the rooftops and spires and streets of the city laid out below.

The Albrect Dürer House was very near, less than 10 minutes. In this house you are given an audio guide with “Agnes Dürer” giving you a tour. It reminded me of seeing Anne Hathaway’s house a little, but this is on 3 stories and it contains a workshop which was cool to see. The guide was well done and the tour was interesting; I had to retrace and backtrack because several times one of the 7 small rooms was full of kids on a tour. I had thought there would be some of his works? But no, maybe just one (and one “fake”). Oh well. Afterwards a lady directed me across the street to the museum shop where I would get a free gift. It was a postcard of Durer’s house, plus I bought a few more of his art; there was a funny Playmobil of Albrect and easel with self-portrait! Had to get that! Funny.

Then I headed to the museum where I figured I’d stay til 2:30. The rain was threatening to get worse. I wound my way down the hill back the same way I came so I wouldn’t get lost. I found the big museum and went around one long side and found a line. A long line where we were all standing in the now nasty blowing rain. I went to the front of line where an older man was guarding the portals and nobody was going anywhere except in this line. So to the back. Ten minutes later it hadn’t moved. The couple in front left. Now after noon. I asked the lady now in front of me if she spoke English, which she did well, and if this was the line for the museum. Yes, but for the Dürer Exhibit and there was a 2 hour wait. What!? No time. She said to tell the guard I just wanted to go in the museum. I was disappointed to miss his works, but no time. So told the guard I just wanted to go into the museum, not the exhibit. He spoke no English. Just waved at the long line. I repeated with gestures. He just waved at the long line. He wouldn’t let me go to the ticket desk. So I said forget this and stomped away. I was near tears for the first and only time on the trip. I know he was wrong and there was a way to go to just the museum; I do appreciate how much English is spoken and posted on signs for us visitors almost everywhere, but it seems like in this important venue that has to be an international draw, the person handling the visitor communication/crowd relations would be better able to help if he/she spoke a little English.

So now what? I had no other ideas of where to go, the weather was nasty, and I was hungry. I had a book. So I just went to the big ole train station, got me a Subway for lunch and a McFlurry Magnum for snack, window shopped, explored all the levels, and found a bench and sat and read in the dry. In this station there is a McClean; it costs €1 for WC, which is clean and has big space for dressing/changing; for €7 you can shower. Interesting. I was disappointed to have such a limited look at the city’s sights, but I’m not sorry I made the trip here.

My 3:28 train arrived and left on time; I had to ask a lady to move from my reserved seat, but there were plenty of un-reserved places. I got to Frankfurt at 5:36, walked right to an S-Bahn for my last train ride, and arrived in Hoechst at 5:50. DH picked me up at 6 and we ate at the hotel. We re-wrapped and packed securely all the breakable souvenirs and got ready to take off in the morning. Last night!
texasbookworm is offline  
Jul 25th, 2012, 10:17 AM
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Day 25—Heading home!

Ok, this is where I want to type, “After an uneventful trip, we arrived home safely and on time.” Well, we arrived home safely, our bodies were generally on time and the flying was uneventful. But a few glitches.

I won’t go through the arrival at and departure from FRA; everything went fairly smoothly. Frankfort’s airport is really spread out and there sure are lots of escalators; for us we even had to navigate a bunch of them with our luggage. But we made it. We even had time to enjoy the perk of DH’s AALounge access for a few minutes. The plane seemed to be boarding weirdly, as agents were scurrying around gathering up any family with children. When they began boarding Priority Access, they finally mentioned the issue—the escalator (see, I knew there were lots!) to the Skybridge was broken, so boarding was slowed. But we left not very late and the flight was long and tiring but uneventful.

We actually landed 40 minutes early at 1:50. I rushed off behind DH. We had 90 minutes of layover on our tickets, and he thought we’d need most of that, so arriving early was good. Got to immigration by 2:10. It was--shall we say, packed? Guess all the agents got sent to Heathrow. DH said 500 people. It took til almost 3 pm. Rushed to retrieve bags, which were of course mostly off the carousel, and it took us a few minutes to find both bags. Rushed to recheck. That was smooth. Rushed through customs; that was really quick. Had to go from B to terminal D. Jumped on Skytram, which is always pretty quick. He grabbed a drink and went to get a pretzel but line too long. Walked really fast to the gate, arriving at 3:30. They were announcing last call for boarding and calling our name. Here we are! Why don’t they communicate about folks like us who are delayed by an airport snafu! DH said they’d have given our seats away. But we got on 20 minutes before departure and arrived on time. But no bags. Not surprised.

Son picked us up, we found home in good shape, dog in a happy state, and yard in need of water and attention but alive. We ate Texas BBQ, unpacked the carry ons, checked mail, and didn’t do much else. The bags were delivered the next morning. Not a very relaxing way to arrive home, but we made it.

Glad to have been; glad to be home!

Last post with a few random thoughts later. Thanks for reading!
texasbookworm is offline  
Jul 26th, 2012, 10:10 AM
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 289

What a wonderful trip report and very timely. I love your writing style.

DH and I are making our final itinerary notes for our trip to this area in September. We too are from Texas and enjoy visiting the German towns in the Texas Hill Country.

We will be spending 13 days in the area and enjoy researching as much as possible in advance. We have our hotels booked and like to have a list of "must sees" but with options for change.

With help from Russ we were able to fine tune our itinerary and will spend 2 days each on the Rhine and 2 days on the Mosel, then 2 days in Heidelberg and drive the Castle Road to Rothenburg, stopping 1 night in Bad Wimpfen. While in Rothenburg we plan to make day trips to Bamberg, Nuremberg and on the way back to FRA, stop in Wurzburg.

Some of your tips will certainly come in handy.

Thanks again for your wonderful trip report and all the details.
winnick is offline  
Jul 26th, 2012, 05:01 PM
Join Date: Jan 2007
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Hi texasbookworm, really enjoyed your report. It's nice that you had time to devote to getting to know the area so well and also nice that you visited some of the lesser-known places like Idstein. Hope you are settling back into your routine at home again after such an interesting trip!

We were in your corner of the world last March - I had a conference in San Antonio and we had a couple of days there. I really enjoyed it and I wish we'd had time to get out and see the Hill Country and the bluebonnets. Maybe next trip!

lavandula is offline  
Jul 26th, 2012, 06:53 PM
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Thanks for the nice feedback; these lengthy trip reports are great journals for the writer/traveler, but it's encouraging to hear when they help or influence or at least prove pleasant for other readers.

winnick-Have a great time. Do allow extra time on the autobahns, especially around Wurzburg. Your destinations sound terrific. We really did enjoy Bamberg immensely! As I tried to indicate, Frankfurt has much to recommend it, too, so I hope it's not just a hotel and/or airport stop. And if you want to see the Durer exhibit in Nuremberg--well, that takes some planning I didn't do. Do report back!

lav--May your future hold a return to our lovely state! And as to settling into a routine--ha! too much trip recovery, unexpected but enjoyable entertaining of visitors, last minute helping at VBS, and sorting of 6500 pictures. School in-service starts next week, so routine is on horizon.

Some of My Random Thoughts:

---Germans seem orderly and extremely law abiding. For example, the whole train ticket thing--yes, there were often (maybe usually) agents on main trains and yes there are hefty fines for not having proper ticket, and I did see one agent check one time on on S-Bahn (and escort someone off at the next station) but generally people seem to just expect to purchase the correct ticket and have it, whether checked or not. And they stop for pedestrians in crosswalks. And drive (mostly) in the correct lanes on the highways.

---My least favorite things--
Men attendants in bathrooms. Being turned away at museum in Nurmberg. Crowds and heat in Heidelberg. Standing in timeconsuming line at passport control reentering the US. No free wifi in hotel rooms. Pretty small list because mostly I enjoyed the people, places, facilities, the food, and the country as a whole.

---A fraction of my favorite things--

Trier—partly because of having “guide” with me and partly because hotel was so cute and partly because of all the wonderful Roman sites and partly because of the crafts fair

Berg Rheinstein—views, pretty gardens and stonework, quiet and uncrowded

The two WWII memorials--the German one at that lonely church near Kastel and the US cemetery in Luxembourg

The views from the Klause Kastel

Budingen—again the quiet and uncrowdedness but also the walls and houses were incredibly well-preserved and the whole town so easily seen as so small

Frankfurt on foot walking tour—for the scope of things covered and the interesting tidbits

GTG with MHG—those Forum people are real people!

Bamberg—its prettiness and walkability made it a good last-day-together

Seeing a Gutenberg Bible, where Luther worked, pieces of the Berlin Wall, the Stones of Stumbling, the steps the Grimms trod, castle after castle on the slopes of the Rhine banks

What I would take next time--

I ran out of single-wash packets for in-room laundry

We ran out of meds, both a couple prescriptions (not life-threatening so was ok) and OTC--will probably think about packing for twice as long as planned instead of just taking a week's worth of extra pills

A better paper map of the road ways, especially when we had the detour in Luxembourg, would have been helpful.

Random (sorta)things I'm glad I took--

extra pair of walking shoes (when one got wet)

moleskin for toes

GOOD rain gear

all those plug adaptors, so we could plug in everything at once

ALL my financial info, so when unexpectedly I needed to make some payments, etc., I had numbers (all but one, anyway)

Bubble wrap

Little tote bag that folds into itself, for those visits to local grocery, etc.

Layers of clothes, as we had all sorts of weather

Paperback guide books (they take up space but I was so glad to have them to refer to when planning)

Under-clothing pouch on round-the-neck-cord for passport (and cards, cash, and tickets)

I'd love to return one day; Auf Wiedersehen for now!
texasbookworm is offline  
Jul 26th, 2012, 08:24 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,008
Loved your trip report. We have been through Frankfurt Airport quite a few times over the last 10 yrs and it can be a confusing mess!

Glad you made it to Bamberg. It is one of our favorite places that I never get tired of.
bettyk is offline  
Jul 28th, 2012, 05:03 PM
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 289
Thanks again for your random thoughts, you actually reminded me of some things to not forget. Will report back on our experiences. We are really looking forward to this trip, our first to Germany (except for a brief stop in Berlin while on a cruise years ago).
winnick is offline  
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