This week has been hectic on an unprecedented scale for me. We’d already booked a trip to Frankfurt to suss out a possible new addition to our aircraft fleet, but then at quite short notice I got asked to attend a client meeting in Switzerland – the day before we were due to go to Frankfurt! Somehow I managed four Ryanair flights in four days, and things went smoothly for the most part. I’ve also been in four countries in four days, as the Switzerland meeting was right on the border with Italy, so I flew into Milan and stayed in a village near there the night before. It was a bit scary travelling on my own – it’s something I’ve not done for years – so I was glad to fly home after the meeting and be reunited with Lee and our friends Nigel and Lucy at the airport. I landed about 11pm and then we had the alarm set for 4.30am the next day to catch an early flight to Frankfurt Hahn. Here’s the view on the climb-out from Stansted.
It’s a really short flight to Frankfurt, but what we hadn’t quite realised is how far Frankfurt Hahn airport is from Frankfurt itself. It turns out that there’s a main Frankfurt airport much closer to the city, which we wish we’d known about. It took us at least an hour in the hire car just to get to Frankfurt, and it was another hour from there to the small airfield where we spent a few hours checking out the potential aircraft and watching Lee take it for a test flight. More on that in another post, as Lee and I will be going back to Germany in the next few weeks to fly it back home!
We could have flown home the same day, but we decided to stop overnight to do a bit of sightseeing. We stayed at the Leonardo Royal Hotel in Frankfurt, which looks a bit of a grim concrete high-rise edifice from the outside, but it’s really nice on the inside. I decided to splash out on an Executive room, as these are near the top of the hotel and have amazing views. This was the view from our balcony. You can see the skyscrapers of central Frankfurt over on the left.
Here’s a wider angle view. To the right, we were able to watch the airliners stacking up to land at the main airport, which was fun. The views were great at night too, though I don’t have any decent photos to share with you.
It was nice to get to the hotel and have a few hours to unwind – the first chance I’d had to stop and relax for days. I had a hot bath and caught up on The Archers! We were all pretty tired after not much sleep, so we decided to find a restaurant within walking distance of the hotel. We ended up in the Sachsenhausen area of the city, where there are lots of bars and restaurants. We stumbled on this atmospheric little corner, which was charmingly decorated with festoon lights and bunting.
It was warm enough to sit outside, but I was glad of my cosy new jumper towards the end of the evening.
German food isn’t the best, it has to be said, but we did ok with our choices I think. As well as the main menu, there was a whole menu of dishes containing chanterelle mushrooms, so I had chanterelles in a cream sauce served with bread dumplings. Lee and I shared apple strudel for dessert, which was delicious. Undoubtedly the highlight of the evening, though, was a man making a complete hash of parallel parking on the street right by our table – back and forth and back and forth he went, getting nowhere. Everyone was watching him and laughing hysterically and there was an eruption of applause when he eventually switched his engine off!
This was the scene as we left to walk back to the hotel. I loved the street lamps!
Next day we awoke to perfect weather for sightseeing, and after a lie-in and leisurely hotel breakfast, we hopped in the hire car and drove into the city centre.
Frankfurt is apparently the largest financial centre in Europe, and the skyscrapers befitting this status juxtapose with older buildings.
Frankfurt was heavily bombed in the Second World War, with the result that few of its historic buildings survive; those that do have been reconstructed. This is the Römer, one of the city’s most famous buildings.
Frankfurt had once been noted for its medieval buildings, some idea of which can be seen in this row of reconstructed buildings opposite the Römer.
There was a lot of construction work going on in the city centre, with several streets closed off. We took a shortcut through the foyer of an art museum to get to the cathedral. This was the foyer, complete with some bizarre “art” installation.
This is the interior of the Cathedral (known as the Dom), where we were perplexed to discover that the white lines between each of the stones were in fact painted on, and not in line with the actual joins! The Dom was reconstructed in the 1950s, having been extensively damaged in the Second World War.
We found a nice sunny spot for a drink in the square; it’s the place with the mustard-yellow umbrellas on the right of the photo of the reconstructed medieval buildings above.
Suitably restored, we walked across the pedestrian bridge and along the river.
The views are lovely, though it was very windy, as you can see from my windswept look! Note all the padlocks on the bridge. These are put there by romantically-inclined couples, who write or carve their names on them, padlock them to the bridge and throw the keys in the river in what they apparently believe to be some sort of grand romantic gesture. I find it totally naff, and it makes the bridge look awful – especially as some of the padlocks just have names written on in marker pen. It’s a form of graffiti really, and not a very original one, as one sees this blight on many bridges around the world these days. In Paris, they had to remove them because they were destroying a historic bridge.
This is the view of the Frankfurt skyline from the other side of the river.
The little boat moored up on the bank down there was selling various fishy snacks.
Looking at this photo, it’s not hard to see why the Germans sometimes refer to Frankfurt as “Mainhatten” – “Main” being the name of the river.
Being in Frankfurt, there was only one thing we could have for lunch: the classic Frankfurter. This simple meal cost €3.50 and, while not exactly the height of culinary sophistication, was surprisingly tasty – especially the mustard.
After lunch we all got ice creams and had fun watching this newly-married couple releasing white doves into the square.
After that we finished up the day’s exploring with a sight-seeing boat trip, which was fun except for the remarkably aggressive waitress who served us our drinks!
I took this in one of the mirrors on the boat. Someone forgot his sunglasses. :)
After disembarking, it was time to battle the traffic back to the airport and be reminded of the fact that we really should have flown into the main Frankfurt airport rather than Frankfurt Hahn. We’ll know next time… stay tuned for more Frankfurt antics coming soon, when we fly the aircraft we bought there back to the UK.