August 4 (Mittwoch) - Wir sind hier. We left Dallas-Fort Worth around 2:45pm. It was about 104°F. We actually arrived in Frankfurt half an hour early, but had to wait for a berth to open and that put our time right on the original schedule of 07h20. It was 59° in Frankfurt. We both decided not to have breakfast on the plane, and after collecting our bags with no passport or customs problems, stopped at Le Café for coffee and a croissant. Yeah, I know, Le Café in Germany? We have found that there are a lot of places with French names here. We got a taxi to the hotel, Hotel National.
Because it was so early, we couldn't check in, so we left our luggage and went out for a walk. We walked down to Kaiserstrasse, where we saw this example of German architecture, you have to remember when you see these buildings, that most of them are copies of the originals because most were blasted out of existence during WWII. We walked until we came to a park where on the left we saw this neat art piece and to the right, we saw this symbol which represents the European Union. We crossed over to Münchener Strasse and walked back to the hotel. It was still too early, so we just sat there until a guy came by and told us our room was ready and we could go up.
We were assigned Room 124, but because Robb had heard somewhere that we should ask for a "renovated" room, he mentioned it to the desk clerk. She said there were only three such rooms and nothing would be available until at least Friday. We were okay with that schedule and went up to our room.
We were both so tired we slept for a couple of hours. Then we went out to eat. We thought we would just eat in the hotel since we were so tired, but the hotel restaurant was closed because they had no customers. There is an Indian restaurant next door to the hotel, but neither of us felt we could handle that, so we turned left and walked down the block to see what we could find. We got to the end of the block seeing nothing inviting, and turned the corner. From the corner of my eye, I spied a bunch of people sitting at outdoor tables about a block away, and suggested we should have a look. It turned out to be a Japanese restaurant. We went in and sat at a table on seats that were like individual benches. The food at MoschMosch was really good. Robb had a vegetarian dish (that wasn't because there was beef or pork in it) and I had ramen soup. Now don't even think of that dried stuff you buy at your local supermarket. This ramen soup was fantastic and had several large slices of chicken along with the noodles, carrots, scallions and bean sprouts.
After dinner, we walked back to the hotel and up to our room. The room was huge, but really, really noisy. The hotel is about a block from the Hauptbahnhof, which you can see as the brownish building, (the main train station) and there is a tram line that runs past the hotel's front door. The trams were not a problem. You could be standing on the street when they go by and, if you had your eyes closed, you would never even know they were there. But the trucks and cars that pass on the street are really noisy. And it never stops, not permanently anyway. They do stop when the light changes to red, but that only lasts a few seconds and the racket starts right up again. Add to that the several bars that stay open until the wee hours of the moring and the drunks talking at the top of their voices, and it's not pleasant or inducive to sleep. We were both awake most of the night.
August 5 (Donnerstag) – After a terrible night, during which we got very little sleep, Robb went down to the desk and asked them to move us to a room off the street. He came back up, we packed up our stuff and moved to room 418. After the original room (124), it seemed like a broom closet. It had a nice Samsung flat panel TV and a great shower, but if we had stayed there, we would have been bumping into each other every time we moved. We decided we would rather put up with the noise in the large room. We went down to the desk to ask. The manager took us back up to the fourth floor (fifth in the US) and took us to room 427. It is beautiful and even larger than 124. He said they didn’t offer us this room because of the construction going on next door, which starts each morning around 07h30. We said we didn’t care. We would rather put up with the noise starting at 07h30, than to have to put up with it all night long. As if to prove us correct, the room was rather quiet while he was showing it to us, and it was only around 14h00. So we moved again and sure enough, it was very quiet. According to the manager, the workers leave around 17h00 each day and don’t work on the weekend.
Having gotten that settled, we walked over to the bahnhof to get some coffee. I’m not sure what’s going on in Germany (Frankfurt at least) but there seems to be a lot of places and things that are considerably more French than German. Le Café, where we had coffee and a croissant; Le Petit Restaurant in the hotel (which we discovered will not be open until the 16th) and even the carpet in our new room has a French fleur-de-lis pattern.
I was too tired to go out walking, so we returned to the room and hung out until 20h00. Then we went downstairs and asked the desk clerk to call us a taxi. Robb asked the driver to recommend a place and we were off. Unfortunately, during the drive, he asked if the place was expensive. The driver replied that he didn’t know because he had never eaten there, but the place was well-known. Somehow, we ended up going to Römerberg Platz. Once there, we saw several restaurants, a lot of which were quite crowded. We chose the one that wasn’t that crowded, Zum Schwarzen Stern (To the Black Star). It was way too chilly for me to sit outside, so we went in and found a table by the window. We started with a Kir Royal. For dinner, I had wiener schnitzel (because I couldn’t remember having had it before) with a potato-cucumber salad. Robb had duck breast with red cabbage and potato dumplings. I wasn’t crazy about the schnitzel, but the salad was excellent. Robb loved his duck. We skipped dessert and just had an espresso to finish. Before leaving the restaurant, I took a picture one of the windows because I just really liked it..
After dinner, we walked around a little, but it was quite chilly. The weather has been in the low twenties (seventies) during the day, and the low to mid teens (fifties) in the evenings. Robb loves it, but it’s a bit cool for me. I took a picture of the church steeple because it was lit up. It came out fairly good, considering my shakiness.
August 6 (Freitag) – For the first time, we made it to breakfast in the hotel dining room. They present quite a varied spread. We only had orange juice, coffee and a couple of tiny muffins. We’ve been curious as to why the hotel dining room is not open for dinner. Today we learned from the breakfast waiter that everyone is on vacation, but they’ll be back and the restaurant in full operation on the sixteenth.
We did relatively little today. Checked out a couple stores and a hostel because Susan said she might like to try that instead of the hotel which is kind of expensive. It seemed rather nice and it’s right across the strasse from the Hauptbahnhof..
When we checked into the hotel, we were given a voucher for free drinks in the hotel bar. We used them today to get a couple glasses of wine. Robb got all excited when he heard the barmaid tell another customer that she is from Havana, Cuba. Of course, that meant they had to have a conversation in Cuban Spanish.
We finally tried Gaylord India Restaurant next door. We both ordered the Chicken Tikka Masala. It was great. Spicy but very good.
They have free WiFi in the lobby here, but it’s a pain in the butt to have to run down there every time we want to use it. The option I chose is to pay to be able to use it in our room. The desk clerk either didn’t understand my question, or just doesn’t know how it works. It is through a company named Frederix and they offer three plans. For 5€, you get 12 hours, 9€ = 24 hours and 20€ = 72 hours. Because the desk clerk didn't seem to understand how it works, I decided to try the 12 hour plan. According to him, your time starts as soon as you enter your password and continues until that time limit is reached. That didn't make any sense to me, because if one opts for the 72 hours, there is no way anyone (even me) is going to be on the computer for 72 hours straight. So I got the 12 hour plan and tested it to see how it works. Turns out I was right, the time stops ticking as soon as you log off and doesn't start again until you log back on. My original 12 hours ran out at midnight on August 7. Oh yeah, there is a date limit as well as an hour limit, and I suspect the date is the real time limit.
August 7 (Samstag) - Today, we bought a tram ticket and caught the tram to the Römer Platz because we both wanted to check out the Zeil, a shopping street, and MyZeil, a cool modern shopping mall. Here's a link to a video about MyZeil. We went to a store named S. Oliver where Robb bought three shirts. We wandered about for a while during which we came across what appeared to be a store, but there were people lined up on both sides waiting to be let inside. It was the strangest thing I've ever seen. Next time we go back, we'll have to check it out and see what's really going on.
After, wandering around MyZeil for a while, we left and started back to get the tram. Robb was feeling hungry so we stopped at an outdoor café (Rafaello's) where he ordered a pizza and I ordered a glass of orange juice. We sat there under the trees, for several hours, just watching the bazillions of people walking by. Between the Römer and MyZeil, there is a pedestrian walkway of about three blocks. That's where the café is located along with many, many others.
Back at the hotel, we rested up until late. We neither felt like wanderig around looking for a restaurant, so we walked over to the bahnhof and got a sandwich and a bottle of water, which we brought back to the room. We watched some German TV and ate our sandwiches. They were a surprisingly very good dinner.
German TV is more like watching US TV, but in a different language. Most of their night time programming are US TV shows dubbed in German. They even have most of the same commercials. The main difference there is that they show the commercials only once during the show and between the shows.
By the way, if you read this and there are a few missing 'N's, it's because my 'N' keypad fell off and I can't get it back on.....yet.
August 8 (Sonntag) - The jet lag has really gotten to me on this trip. I have no energy whatsoever, and breathing is a major problem. That, of course, means that we can do very little, and nowhere near what we want to do. Sunday in Germany is a good day in which to do nothing because every thing is closed except for the very touristy areas. I slept most of the day trying to get back some of my energy, but it doesn't really seem to have helped much. Robb, as he is wont to do, went out for a walk by himself. I made sure he knew the name of the hotel so if he got lost, he could find his way back. I finally got out of bed and tried to catch up with this journal.
He returned a while later and we went down to the bar for our very first German beer since arriving. As luck would have it, the bar was open, but only because they were getting prepared to hold one of those "speed dating" things. The kind where there are several guys and girls who introduce themselves, chat for awhile then move on to the next person. If any couple hits it off, they arrange for a date. The guy who was running the show is from Greece. Apo moved to Germany with his parents after the war, and has been here ever since. Robb asked him to recommend a restaurant for the evening. He told us about Baseler Eck which is only about two blocks down the strasse.
We left for the restaurant. It was pretty chilly and there was a gusting wind, but we figured we could stand it for two blocks. (You do hear that buzzer, right?) Baseler Eck was closed. We had just passed another place so we went back there. It was an African restaurant and there wasn't a white person to be seen. We looked around but no one made any effort to seat us, so we left. Robb said that during his earlier walk, he had passed an Italian restaurant, so we set off looking for that. We walked down along the Main (pronounced 'mine') River. Luckily, the wind wasn't quite so fierce, but Robb suddenly couldn't remember what route he had taken. Somehow, we found the Italian restaurant. It was closed. We figured it was going to be another bahnhof sandwich night and started walking there.
On the way, we passed Le Méridien Parkhotel (there's that French name again) and saw that their restaurant, Le Parc, was open, so we went in. We both had the roast pork loin with baked potatoes and a really great salad.
You can see all the pictures here - Frankfurt
Bis zum nächsten mal, meine Freunde