Frankfurt Layover Fun

In the center of the Old Town square (rebuilt after World War II)
In the center of the Old Town square (rebuilt after World War II)

On my way to and from Jordan last month, I had two ~6 hour layovers in Frankfurt, Germany.  The idea of hanging out in the airport for all that time wasn’t super appealing, so I went into the city to explore a bit.

I went through Passport control, joking with the officer there that “I have a long layover und Ich will mein Deutsch üben.” (I want to practice my German.)  Which was true, since I’ve hardly had the opportunity to speak German since graduating from college a good while ago.  Plus it’s fun to get outside the airport and see the city. [Note: As a U.S. citizen, I don’t need a visa to enter Germany for tourist trips shorter than 90 days.]

The S-Bahn was a 10 minute walk from Passport control, so I took my carry-ons and headed in that direction.  On previous trips, I’ve managed to find the Tourist Information office and purchase the Frankfurtkarte, which includes a day pass for the subways (including the trip to the airport), streetcars, and discount admission to museums.  This time, I didn’t succeed, so I purchased a day pass including the airport.  (More expensive than the Frankfurtkarte, by the way).

In front of the Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof
In front of the Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof

The train ride into Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof (main train station) took about 12 minutes; going out the main entrance leads to Kaiserstrasse, kind of a main drag that heads toward the European Central Bank, the recreated main square, and the main shopping street.

I stopped for lunch at Dean & David, a healthy food cafe.  I was glad to find it, because gluten-free menu items were clearly marked, it wasn’t too crowded, and it was relatively inexpensive.  I had the Oriental Salad, which was a bit strange to my American palate.  Fresh greens, grapes, slivered almonds, mango, bell pepper, chicken, topped with a sherry vinaigrette and dill.  Dill!  It was fresh though, and mostly good.

Outside the Goethehaus
Outside the Goethehaus

I headed toward the Old town, but got lost and ended up walking along the Main for a few blocks until I got my bearings again.  I found the Main square and gawked a bit before heading to the Goethehaus Museum.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with his work, Goethe is kind of a big deal, the Shakespeare of Germany.  His best known work is Faust, which I must confess to not having read despite being a German major– they weren’t offering that course when it was time for me to take it.  One of the more unique features of the house is the collection of really interesting grandfather clocks scattered throughout.  Much of the art is exactly as it was in Goethe’s time.

I then managed to find the Old Town and snap a few photos before heading back to the Hauptbahnhof for the train to the airport.

Old-school flights board at FRA
Old-school flights board at FRA

On my second layover, which was from about 6:30 am until noon, I purchased a Frankfurtkarte.  I discovered that the way to get Germans to speak German to you when they respond in English is to tell them auf Deutsch that “Ich will mein Deutsch üben.”  The person selling the card launched into a spiel about how he loves it when people take time to learn German and want to practice it. 🙂

Coffee from Coffee Fellows
Coffee from Coffee Fellows

I left the airport on the train as I did before and headed to town to go to Coffee Fellows.  We’d spent many hours there on a previous 11 hour layover in Frankfurt on a trip to Budapest and I had fond memories, plus it was likely to be open at 7 am and have WiFi 🙂  I enjoyed a vanilla latte there and plotted my next step, which I determined to be a trip to the Palmengarten.  I had time to spare, so I wandered over through the Taunusanlage and waited for the garden to open.

With succulents at the Frankfurt Palmengarten
With succulents at the Frankfurt Palmengarten
With palms at the Frankfurt Palmengarten
With palms at the Frankfurt Palmengarten

The Palmengarten has some impressive greenhouses (the succulents were my favorite), though much of the grounds was closed/ inactive for winter.

Then it was back to the Hauptbahnhof and airport for my flight back to the U.S.

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