The original reason for coming to Frankfurt was purely because it was the cheapest place we could get a flight to Iceland. But, when presented with an opportunity to explore a new German city, how can I possibly refuse?
After arriving late in the evening and taking a 20-minute detour to the apartment, the evening was written off. With only enough time to get some washing done and set up a makeshift clothes dryer, it was soon time to go to sleep. After hiking the equivalent of Mount Everest – slight exaggeration maybe… – to get out of the valley in Luxembourg, then sitting and doing nothing for hours on a couple of trains, I was beyond tired and slept like a baby.
If we’d had the oomph to get up and ready quickly enough, I was keen to head to Heidelberg for the day. Sadly, the previous 10 days had caught up with us and we were shattered. Settling instead for a chilled out day checking out Frankfurt, we jumped on the u-bahn and made the quick 7-minute journey in to the city centre.
Popping out by Frankfurt Cathedral, we quickly realised that it was closed and so moved on for a stroll along the river. First impressions of Frankfurt weren’t amazing, but we still had the day ahead and I was keen to give it a chance, after all I do love Germany! The first Christmas market soon crept into view, and after a quick perusal we noticed there were things on sale here we’d not seen anywhere else yet – always a pleasant surprise! What initially seemed to be a small, roadside market soon opened out into a square which in turn led to another square, all of which made this a huge Christmas market, second only to that I had visited in Dresden.
As it was still only really lunchtime, there weren’t huge crowds pushing around the market so we were able to walk around very comfortably. There were, however, annoying tourists. I am aware that I am technically a tourist too, but I try to be respectful to other people, specifically trying not to stand right in front of their camera when they are taking photos – one of my absolute pet hates!
Taking a break from the Christmas market before I took revenge on one of the selfie sticks, we nipped back to the Cathedral to have a look around the inside. Considering it’s the cathedral and not a local neighbourhood church, it isn’t a huge church and there isn’t a great deal to see in there. The most interesting thing about it was the walls – all painted to look like red bricks, which gives it a very different feel to most other churches I’ve visited. As we left the cathedral, we spotted a tower that looked like it’d be perfect for the panoramic views we love of a city. However, I had definite leg ache after the valleys of Luxembourg and couldn’t bear to climb anything more than 200 steps. After enquiring if there was a lift – slim chance, and no there wasn’t – we decided that we’d just have to skip the views and carry on with the Christmas markets.
More Christmas markets, more Christmas stalls, more delicious Christmas food to tempt us! As we got further along the trail of Christmas markets, we spotted people walking around with all kinds of food we’d not seen before. Checking out our options, we spotted a stall selling dampfnudel. While this is something we’d seen in previous years, after its appearance on the Great British Bake Off, we were keen to try it out and see what they’d been making. A delicious doughnut-like dish covered in ‘vanilla sauce’ aka yummy custard, it was definitely a good choice for us.
As the afternoon turned it evening, our thoughts turned to the next leg of our trip: Iceland. Realising we’d not really come well equipped shoe-wise for Iceland, we made our way back to our apartment via an amazing food market, and ended up in the huge shopping centre just behind where we were staying. Thankfully we both managed to find a pair of sturdy boots that would hopefully serve us well in the Icelandic weather, and I even managed to find Harry Potter in German to help me learning the language.
The joy of staying in an apartment is the feel of a home from home. In anticipation of our time in pricey Iceland, dinner came courtesy of ready meals from a local supermarket. I actually love trying out local food, even the everyday meals on offer that aren’t available back home. Packing our bags yet again, I was preparing for yet another early morning for our last intercity travel day of the trip.
With a flight booked for 11.40am, we planned to leave for the airport 3 hours before. After the usual rush of checking out later than we’d planned, a quick 5 minute walk took us to the train station. Lucky for us, the train was leaving in 10 minutes, giving us time to grab a postcard and magnet before the quick train ride to the airport.
With a final taste of German efficiency, we dropped our bags at the Wow Air check in desks after a surprising lack of queues for a budget airline. Security was a bit less efficient, as it turns out our lovely new Iceland-ready boots aren’t so airport security friendly. But hey, at least the airport staff got to enjoy my funky socks!
Although I’d read great things about Wow Air, it wasn’t the best experience I’ve ever had. After queueing to board the flight, we actually found ourselves in another departure lounge. From there, we queued to board the bus, before waiting on the buses outside the plane for a ridiculous amount of time. I may be British, but there’s only so much queueing I can take! When we’d finally made it on board, I was happy to get going, only to find myself stuck behind the most obnoxious seat-recliner I’ve yet had the displeasure to encounter. While that isn’t the airline’s fault, the cabin crew weren’t friendly and the pilot had a slight obsession with the seatbelt sign that eventually meant people ignored it and were up wandering around while it was still on. I’m all for safety, but it was weird…
Let’s just say I was happy to land and be in the final destination of our interrail 2016 trip – Iceland!