We flew in from Cracow this afternoon. Rich is still having trouble with his back, but he is determined not to waste our last day in Germany. I looked through the recommendations and find things in the Alte Frankfurt that I would like to see. There appear to be a lot of restaurants there also. We can have one last German meal before we leave tomorrow.
We stop by the front desk to ask some questions about the best way to do things. The cheapest way is to take the shuttle back to the airport and get on the train going into town. That’s what we do. We purchase the return tokens from the desk and step outside to wait for the shuttle. It is a beautiful day here. There are clouds moving across the sky, but the sun is out and providing some warmth.
The shuttle arrives and there are six of us going to the airport. It appears that only one of the people is actually catching a flight. Like so many around us, he is sneezing and coughing. I hope I get back home before any of that kicks in. We hand our tokens to the driver as we climb into the minibus.
At the airport, we go in search of the bahnhof. It is located down one level from the arrival deck. We review the screens overhead for where we want to go and the number for that train. The ticket machines are all automated and there is a long line. As we get our turn at the machine and we are trying to make selections, a gentleman steps out from behind us to help. We can get the machine to display in English, but the selections don’t match the screen we were reviewing.
The gentleman tries to help us. Eventually, he hands us a group ticket for 5 and takes the money I would have put into the machine. He even hands me change, though it is more than I would have gotten back from the machine. Rich is very skeptical and thinks that we just got ripped off. The group ticket would cover our trip and back from the center. I tell him to go with it until we find out differently.
We go down one more level to the train tracks. Our train is next and is there is about three minutes. That timing worked out just fine. The door to the train open and we step on. No one has stopped us yet. We find seats and start reviewing the screen for our stop. A gentleman in the seat across from Rich confirms where we want to get off the train.
On the way, we decide to go to another stop that will put us a few blocks north of where we want to be. Let’s hope the group ticket covers that. This is the Hauptwach stop. No one seems to be checking tickets. I believe the system here uses the fact that everyone is honest and buys the correct ticket, if they buy at a ticket at all. It looks like the group ticket works then.
We come out of the train station to the street above in a square. This one is more modern than where we are headed. There are some very old buildings surrounding the square though. One of these looks like an older station that might have been used in earlier years. St. Katherine Church is in the square.
We find the street that we need to get down to the Romer square and walk toward the river. As we get to the cross streets, it is hard to see if that cross street leads you to the square. It just appears to hit a dead end. We decide to walk to the river and look around. There is a very nice path and park along the river here.
This is the Main River that runs through Frankfurt. There are barges and river cruise boats up and down at the stretch. With the wind, it is very choppy today. We start to walk in the direction of the old square. I forgot about the aggressive nature of the bicyclists in Germany. They whiz by so fast and I’m almost struck a couple of times. They don’t seem to take tourists into account when they are flying down the path.
We cross the main street and can finally see the square. There are a lot of old timber buildings along here. I had read that the Romer was sold by the business family who owned it in 1406 to the city of Frankfurt for their rathaus (or town hall). It is a very nice building. I can see that many of the buildings around it are about the same age. The square is large with a fountain in the center.
Today, there is a wooden framework on the ground with lots and lots of green figures all around the fountain. The German signs don’t make sense to me. I can’t figure out what is going on and what is being depicted here. Rich can’t determine it either.
We go into the Information office on the square to get information in English. It’s easier to determine what to make sure we see then. The map costs us 50 cents. Not too bad. Out in the square again, we walk around the fountain so that we can go to St. Mary’s Cathedral in one of the streets behind the square. We can see the beautiful tower of the church, so it’s not hard to find.
We look at the menus for a couple of the restaurants on the square. One of them serves Weihenstephan and Rich decides this is the place. We walk on around the square and down one of the side streets. We head toward a museum and see a pile of dirt in the courtyard. It is unexpected to see dirt like this, even though there is a lot of construction going on around us here.
The courtyard holds an exhibit called the Sonic Fountain. This fountain is a large pool of water with microphones all along the bottom and sides. There is an arrangement of spray nozzles up above the pool. One nozzle begins to drip and you get an echoing tone. Another nozzle begins to drip as the first nozzle increases its flow. This happens with multiple nozzles. The sound it creates is like a symphony orchestra as different instruments join.
We found a plaque on the wall about the exhibit and its artist. The exhibit is to show the sounds related to rain and how it produces different sounds. The nozzles overhead are programmed to simulate different types of rain to give different sounds. It was a stunning idea and how the guy pulled it off was amazing. It was so beautiful to hear.
We continue through the courtyard to St. Mary’s. You can climb up the tower and look around the old city. I don’t Rich’s back is up for that. We wander around the streets surrounding the church. The architecture is just amazing. Most of the old city is from the late 1380s through the mid 1400s. There has been reconstruction from to time, but you can still see many of the old architecture. It is wonderful to look around see time through the centuries.
Now it is time for dinner. We head back down one of the streets toward the old square. When we get closer, I can see a beautiful structure I have to check out first. It is the Ratskellar behind the town hall. Across from it is St. Paul’s Church. Just as in Poland, there is a church on every corner. Rich wants a picture of the war memorial because the female figure on top is not fully dressed. I complain to him about that and he points to a male figure on the side of the church that is totally nude. He says there is equal opportunity nudity in this city.
We walk back to the square and to the restaurant he picked out earlier. It’s a little windy and there is some rain trying to come down. We decide to sit inside. I pick a seat by the window. These are benches so there is no back for Rich to rest again. I insist so I can watch the square and the people walking by.
Our server gives us menus, which have English descriptions for the dishes. We’ve already picked out what we want as our last meal in German. We start out with liver dumpling soup for each of us. I’m having Jagerschnitzel with spatzel. Rich has schweinehaxen with potatoes. We do plan to have a beer or two and even dessert with coffee at the end. We have Euros to spend and memories to make.
Our beers arrive followed by the food. It is all so wonderful. The flavors are just what we wanted from our last meal here. One thing we enjoy is German food. It is hard to come by in the States just the way you can get it here. We finish off the meal with coffee, apple strudel, and cheesecake.
I go to find the toiletten, which is down the winding staircase and in the basement. It is very dark and nothing much there. I’ve been seeing people coming and going this staircase. There is no one down here. I see a doorway that leads out. There must be tunnels here to get around the old part of the city. I find the Damen (Ladies) room and go back up the winding staircase. It is pretty cool.
Time to head back to the train station and to the hotel. We decide to walk the river for a while and then take one of the streets back up to the main train station. We do fine until we get into a maze of traffic circles and trams. We can see the station just ahead of us, but it is a circuitous route to get over to it. We finally make it and inside.
Now the real fun begins. There are local and long distance trains in here. We have to figure out where to go and how to find the right train. Rich is trying to read screens and boards. I figure I’ll ask at the information desk. I get into line and look around for Rich. He is wandering off to the left of me. He comes back and says the Information line is too long. I look at the people in front of me and it doesn’t look too long.
A gentleman behind me says that I need to go to the back of the line. I turn to look and him and ask him to repeat what he said. He points behind him and the long line of people and says I need to move to the back of the line. Apparently, there was only a break in the line and I didn’t see the long line behind. I apologize and agree with Rich for once. The line is too long to wait for.
We find a ticket machine that appears to work and we buy one-way tickets back to the airport. Rich doesn’t trust the group ticket that we are holding. Now we have to find the right platform for the train to the airport. The screen says it is on 103. We got down the escalator and try to stay out of the way of people using the left to keep walking.
Down on the platform, we are looking for the S8 train. The S1 train shows up first. People scramble to get on board. A young man tries to catch the door to get inside, but the door continues to close. The train sits for a minute before the doors reopen. I guess they have that capability, but I don’t see how it knows. There don’t appear to be any conductors that I can see to make that determination.
The train moves out and the S8 train is on its way in to the station in about 3 minutes. When the train arrives, we step on board and find seats. There are two older women and two younger women who sit near us. They appear to be heading for the airport also. From their discussion, I believe they are Spanish. The younger girls talk to one of the locals about which stop they need. I’m not sure they really understand.
We arrive at the airport and get back up to the arrival level so we can wait for the shuttle. There are three men already standing there with cases. I see the shuttle stop at the first stop, which is not its usual thing to do. Someone flagged it down. The shuttle finally moves on to us. All of the men are waiting for the same shuttle.
I wait as the suitcases are loaded and people are getting on board. There is only room for 8 and there are 9 of us. The guys in the back row are nice enough to make room for me so I don’t get stuck at the airport. We move on to the next stop even though we don’t have any more room. Luckily, there is no one waiting there. We get back to the hotel and start to pile out.
Back in our room, we get comfy and settle in for the evening. This is our last night on the road. That is if you don’t count the night that we spend chasing the sun across the sky. It is a 9 hour flight. Tomorrow night, we spend in our own beds, in our own house, and in our own town.