Monday, November 29, 2010

The Beginning of Christmas, Starting with Frankfurt

When it is only 16 Euros round trip from Pisa, Italy to Frankfurt, Germany, it is impossible to say no. So what else could I do but book the trip and have another adventure with my travel buddy, Cat! Prior to traveling to Frankfurt, I had no idea what the city had to offer. I knew it was a metropolitan city and was the financial district of Germany. Knowing us, Cat and I would explore and discover things to do like we always have. I am so lucky to have a travel buddy like Cat, we have yet to get in an argument (and I can’t imagine us ever arguing) and we’re always smiling and living life to the fullest at that exact moment.
On the train to the airport
The night before I left for Frankfurt, I looked up the weather and read it would be snowing… SNOWING!!!!! Seriously? I was extremely elated with the idea I was going to see snow! But then the next thought that entered my mind was, IT’S GOING TO BE COLD! I thought I was prepared with all the many layers I bought, but when I arrived, I was no match for the weather. I had to purchase four extra pairs of wool socks and another pair of gloves. In all, I was wearing two layers of socks with boots, leggings under my jeans, four layers of shirts (two of them being sweaters) a pea coat, a scarf, a pair of gloves and a pair of mittens over the gloves, and finally a hat! With all of that on, I felt like I gained ten extra pounds (and I’m sure I looked it as well). However, despite my layers I was still cold, but the weather wasn’t going to hinder my experience.
I wish I could afford to stay at that hotel
My new Christmas dress!
So much happened in such little time. While the plane was descending for landing, I saw the villages below covered in snow. It was beyond stunning and then the realization kicked in, IT’S GOING TO BE REALLY, REALLY REALLY, COLD!
From the airport, we had to take the bus to Frankfurt. RyanAir may be cheap, but that’s because it doesn’t fly into major airports. Some people are turned off because they have to travel an additional hour and a half to the city, but I took it as an opportunity to see the countryside. Which I might add was beautiful!  The first night, Cat and I were determined to explore. We only had a weekend, and we were going to use every second to our advantage.
On the bus ride to Frankfurt
First was first and that was getting a hot chocolate and a pastry. The bakery shop was located in the train station of where we had been dropped off by the bus. As I entered the bakery shop, I was overwhelmed with the amount of pastries. I was in heaven, and it tasted as good as it looked. Lucky for me! The hot chocolate was good, but didn’t compare to the one I had in Barcelona.
If you give me hot chocolate...
I'm going to want a pastry to go with it!
Walking around in the train station, it was very prevalent it was the Christmas season! Everything was decked out in ornaments and decorations and there was a massive tree!
That night we found a German restaurant. Cat and I were strong minded to eat at a place that served local dishes. We figured, if we could read what the restaurant was, then we weren’t going to eat at it. Our other criteria was if the place played American music, then we wouldn’t eat there either. Soon enough though we found a place to eat, Culux. We were getting hungry and tired, so this place was the best we could find.  Dinner was delicious and the peanut sauce for the sausage was even better.  Plus the apple juice was probably the best apple juice I’ve had in a while. What amazed me the most is when I paid for my dinner, I gave the waitress my money and right then and there they give you the change out of a little purse. Whereas in the states, I give the server the money, the waiter goes back to use a register to calculate how much change to be given back. On top of that, when Cat and I requested to pay separately, our waitress recalculated the bill in her head within seconds and told us the amount due. Maybe I’m impressed because I never excelled in math. The simple fact was, this just shows how much American’s rely on technology to complete simple tasks.  This wasn’t the only restaurant that did this; all of the places we ate at did the same.
The next day Cat and I had a mission. We had places to visit and things to see! First on the list, was the Christmas Market. When we arrived in Romerberg, it was 9:30 and the places wouldn’t open until ten. That was okay because we walked over the bridge and on the other side was the largest flea market in Frankfurt.
We saw a vendor who was selling hats, and so it was completely necessary to buy one! (Not to mention the hat I originally had did not keep me warm) In a sense I felt like I was playing dress up with the new hat I had. Back in the states I don’t wear hats, maybe a ball cap at a baseball game, if that. So the idea of wearing a hat other than a baseball cap seemed unnatural, but I realized most people around me were wearing stylish hats as well. It wasn’t until a lady complemented Cat and I on our hats did I feel comfortable. I realized then, wear it like you mean it, and then it doesn’t feel weird.

After exploring the Saturday flea market, we ventured back to the Christmas Market. Let me tell you this, German’s know how to prepare for Christmas! If I thought Christmas back in the states was amazing, then I had to think twice because the Christmas season in Germany was overwhelming with joy and festivities. The market had everything from food, hot wine, desserts, to purchasing Christmas presents and ornaments. They had EVERYTHING and more! Of course I tried everything possible, mostly sweets. Cat was on a mission to get a pretzel, and a pretzel is what she got! I never knew so many choices existed when ordering a pretzel.
You better believe I had some of these
Even kids get to have fun!
I went twice that day, once in the morning and once in the evening.  I was really glad I went in the morning first because in the evening it was mobbed. I don’t know how people navigate their way around when it’s over crowded.
During the day
At night
The next stop was lunch! The signature drink of Frankfurt is “Apfelwin” which is a light alcoholic apple cider that is produced in regions in Frankfurt. So with that in mind, I researched a few places and found the best cider taverns were in Sachsenhausen. This was literally a ten-minute walk from the Christmas Market. The one thing I did learn is, it isn’t worth buying a metro pass because everything is so close!
We ate at Schwizer Strabe and I highly recommend it to anyone. In English terms I ordered the “Traditional German Meatloaf.” It was delicious! It was something different from what I’ve been eating for the past few months. It seems that meat is the main dish of most dinners and lunches. I’m assuming it would be hard to be on a vegetarian diet if I lived in Germany.
With each adventure Cat and I go on, we always try and incorporate a museum visit. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was one of the most important German writers. He was also considered to be the most important thinkers in Western culture. Goethe works included poetry, literature, philosophy, and science. There is the Goethe House that was turned into a museum. However, the original Goethe’s house was destroyed in World War II, it was fully restored with the original furniture, books, and paintings that the family owned. The house is three stories high with multiple rooms. Lucky for me it was only 2.50 Euros with a student ID card. (Once again it pays to be a student.)
Entrance way to the garden
With walking all around Frankfurt, I needed a snack, and if I had the choice it would be something sweet. Seeing how it was cold, it had to HOT CHOCOLATE! This time though I found a store that specialized in chocolate. If you’re ever in Frankfurt go to Schoko Ladchen. They had chocolate EVERYTHING! So Cat and I ordered hot chocolate and it took five minutes to prepare. You better believe if it takes five minutes to make, it’s going to taste good! It did! (Still not the better than Barcelona, but sure beat the hot chocolate in Paris) I couldn’t get enough and so I had to get a tiny coconut truffle just to finish off the experience!
One of my major goals, while in Frankfurt, was going to the Main Tower. The Main Tower is the only high- rise building that is open to the public and its 650 feet tall. Let’s just say that pictures says it all when it comes to the view. Cat and I have traveled many places, and I was happy to share the experience with her. Not to mention I was thankful I had my new hat because it was extremely cold on top.
Made it to the top!
Although we only spent a weekend in Frankfurt, I had to have some kind of meal that wasn’t German. German food was wonderful, but it also makes me feel extremely heavy long after I have digested it. Seeing how Frankfurt is a metropolitan city, I thought why not try sushi! I haven’t had it since I left home. Every time I wanted have sushi in Italy, it didn’t look nor smell like it. We found a Japanese restaurant and after looking at the menu, more specifically the pricing, we decided the Thai restaurant right next door was a better decision. It wasn’t until then, I realized how much I miss the easy access  to food options when I am at home.
So many choices 
My dinner
A short story after we left the restaurant. I was trying to exit the place and there were a bunch of people blocking the exit door. I didn’t know the word for excuse me so I tried saying “excuse me” but nothing happened, so then I tried “permisso” which in Italian means, the same as excuse me. But I didn’t get results with that word either. Finally a person realized I was trying to get through and moved aside. After which I asked Cat if she knew the word excuse me in German and she said, “I’m pretty sure the universal word is shoving.” That made me laugh so hard I could barely breath.  I would never shove a person, but its funny to think if all words fail, actions speaker louder. When traveling there are always language barriers, it’s just a matter of finding a way to communicate with the other person effectively. Now that I’ve looked it up, “Endschuldigen Sie Bitte!” is excuse me in German.

The next day, we had to take a bus back to the airport and once again we traveled through the winter wonderland countryside of Germany. It was beautiful and I will miss it, but not the cold!  
As I returned to Florence, I felt a little out of place. As much as I love Florence, I feel like I’m in a bubble from the rest of the world. I don’t know why or how to explain it. Florence has a charm to the town, whereas Frankfurt is more modern. In Frankfurt I felt like I was in the real world and when I came back to Florence everything stopped. I guess just another culture shock when traveling.

This weekend I will be spending in Florence… or rather Italy, I can’t promise I’ll be in Florence for the entire weekend. I’m going to try and get some day trips in. The next weekend I’ll be going to Brussels and then the program is over. After which I’ll be returning to Roma to spend Christmas with my “Roman Family” and my sister will be joining me as well. Then it is off to more traveling around Europe for a few weeks. Life couldn’t have been treating me any better.

Merry Christmas,
Roamin’ Roman


  1. I want a Christmas Market too for Christmas. I love all those wonderful candies and wooden toys and trains...It makes me feel like a child again in a candy shop and a toy shop. More please!!!! I wonder what Brussels will bring?

  2. Where is the picture of your hat?

  3. You look great! So glad you had such a fun adventure in Germany, Alece! Thanks, as always, for sharing your experiences. I have Hot Chocolate envy!!

  4. Great looking hats. You know, of course, it was quite common in your great grandfather's time even to wear hats at night while sleeping just to keep warm in bed. Good for you for carrying on a family tradition of hat-wearing and being such a spokeswoman for the proper attire of keeping warm in contemporary fashion. Prosit to hats! Norn

  5. Love the Christmas dress! lol Ah your blog just got me through my 65823495y3486th hour of studying. And you really do take great pictures...did you take a photo class before you left or are you just naturally talented? I'm definitely taking note, like your style.

  6. Alece, there is no one else I would rather travel with! You are such a joy to be around, and your zest for life inspires me! I love you so much, and I'm so blessed to have you in my life.
    I'm DYING laughing that you researched the German phrase for "Excuse Me." I guess that's the more considerate way to go about things :)
    I love your blog. I love your pictures. I love you.
    Yay for adventures THIS weekend and the NEXT!

  7. You are amazing and I am so thankful to be able to read about your experiences! Even more thankful that I will be able to see you for a girls weekend soon!

    Your blog is such a pleasure to read. I keep thinking about how neat it would be for you to have your blog printed after you get back so you have a real version of it. What if during girls weekend we used my indesign skills to layout your blog in a book format and got it printed?? We could add real objects like ticket stubs or other pictures too! What do you think?

    Love you and miss you!

  8. You've been to Greece and now Germany... Very jealous! I hope you got some cool trinkets. Still waiting for the fashion blog.

  9. I'm going to Frankfurt on December the 29th with my boyfriend and another couple and we'll stay there until January the 2nd. I live in Florence too, thanx for sharing your experience :)