36 hours in Frankfurt

Trip Start Apr 21, 2009
1
5
Trip End May 02, 2009


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Flag of Germany  , Hesse,
Thursday, April 23, 2009

Our trip started quite leisurely...we always pack at the last possible moment, and each time we tell ourselves that packing will be quick because we only have our carry-ons to pack (we travel lightly)...but we kept procrastinating - had a long dinner, drank some wine, then my dear angel pulled out his guitar and began singing for me...old, nostalgic, half-forgotten Russian songs...the songs gave way to poetry, the evening turned into night, and we barely had any sleep...luckily though our plane was not too early in the morning, and anyway - it didn't matter much: we were happy, excited and looking forward to the trip ahead...and so it had begun...

our first stop was Frankfurt, Germany...we agreed to meet there with Sasha (the oldest of the five children that we have between us two) and his daughter Alice...if you read my past blogs, chances are  you've probably met Sasha: he and his girlfriend hosted us in Israel last year (they both live and work in Tel-Aviv)...but you haven't yet met Alice...and we haven't seen her since September 2006 (we met in Amsterdam then)!...and so obviously - we were terribly looking forward to seeing her now!...

Alice lives with her mom Anna in Düsseldorf - just a few hours by car from Frankfurt...so we decided to meet in Frankfurt, especially since our plane was arriving there anyway...Alice and Sasha met us at the airport...she actually noticed us from afar and recognized us right away...she is such a sweet, pretty and very precocious girl...and since German is her main language (although her English is fine and Russian is perfect), she was our little interpreter...speaking of language...I was quite surprised -  despite Frankfurt being a big city with a lot of international business travelers, not many people we encountered spoke good English...

anyway, we dropped our things at the hotel and went to the zoo...why zoo? :)  ...it's simple:  first of all, both Alice and I like going to the zoo...

secondly, my angel and Sasha wanted a relaxed, unhurried place to talk and catch up, and a zoo seems to be such a place...and thirdly, my dear angel read or heard somewhere that Frankfurt had a good zoo...well, that is not so!...I suppose different people have different standards of "good", and by my standards it was quite mediocre...but we had a good time anyway...












unfortunately Alice had to go back home this same evening - she couldn't miss another day of school because of the exams...but as jet lagged as we were, we still didn't want to part so quickly...so it was decided on the spur of the moment that we would go with Sasha and Alice to Cologne (Köln) where Anna would pick her up...

Cologne is about halfway or so between Frankfurt and Düsseldorf , and we arrived there just in time for dinner...there was not that much time, so all we saw of Cologne was the panoramic view of Rhine river and its major landmark -one of the best-known architectural monuments in Germany - Cologne Catherdal (Kölner Dom)...







Anna met us in front of the Cathedral, and we went to a nearby restaurant for dinner...the evening went too fast, and unfortunately it was time to say goodbye...we are hoping though that it won't be a long goodbye....












Sasha drove us back to Frankfurt where he had to catch a next day flight to Tel-Aviv....so we had a little bit of time together...only I don't think we were fun companions - jet-lagged and tired, we kept dozing off in his car (but! at least we did it in turns, so that at any given time he had one of us awake! :)   
I am writing this blog just after our return from Europe, and I still feel traces of jet lag, so - blame it on that if I am not entertaining enough! :)

We spent the whole next morning with Sasha, but then he had to go to the airport...we were leaving Frankfurt the same night, on an overnight train to Prague....



I actually booked the hotel where we stayed based almost solely on its proximity to the train station...the train station was big, bright, busy, with lots of shops and restaurants, so I thought it wouldn't be a problem to wait there for our late train (the train was supposed to depart after midnight)...but! good thing that I checked the tickets in the morning - turned out our departure was scheduled from a different train station....so we thought "no problem, we'll just check out, leave our luggage at the hotel, spend the day in the city, then return at night, pick up the luggage and move to that other station"...and off we went into the city....



Frankfurt is a big financial and industrial center, hardly a city for pretty vistas and leisurely walks (although I might be mistaken - but such was my impression)...so we decided to spend what remained of our day in Frankfurt's museum area...luckily for people who don't have too much time most museums in Frankfurt are located next to each other along the river Main...the whole area is called "Museumsufer" (Museum Embankment)...

 

 


it was actually a nice area...one of the museums - Liebieghaus Sculpture Collection - had a beautiful tranquil garden....horse chestnut trees were blooming, and a wave of nostalgia washed over me...these trees are so omnipresent in Europe, and at the end of April - beginning of May the cities all over Europe are illuminated with white and pink froth of their candle-like flowers...



and in September, right around my birthday, their green prickly fruit fall to the ground, crack and release big shiny brown seeds...ah, memories!...unfortunately you rarely see these trees in North America...


 


 


 




so we walked around the museum garden and went to the museum itself - the Liebieghaus Sculpture Collection ...it had a feel of a private home despite having quite a comprehensive and extensive collection of sculptures from ancient times to modern...









later, in the Museum of Applied Arts, we happened to catch an interesting exhibition of Japanese woodblock prints (ukiyo-e)...it was called "Heroes of the Stage and Beauties of the Night: Masterpieces of Japanese Woodblock Printing"...in some way it reminded us of another exhibition we saw in 2006 in Amsterdam at the Van Gogh museum ("Women of Tokyo & Paris")  that juxtaposed art, fashion, household objects in the 19th century Tokyo and 19th century Paris...there were a lot of Japanese paintings and woodblock prints there as well...the beauty of Japanese woodblock prints have been inspiring many European artists including Monet, Van Gogh, Bonnard, Toulouse-Lautrec, just to name a few...these prints are delicately exquisite, elegant and refined...and we really enjoyed this exhibition...
















now, on one hand I really do not like taking pictures in museums - I prefer to look at art not through the lens of my camera (not to mention that non-professional pictures hardly do art any justice)...but on the other hand, I like having little reminders of the things we liked at the places we visited...and since this blog serves as my virtual scrapbook, I'll post some of the museum pictures here...just for the sake of remembering...

we finished our day at the Städel Museum...this being Germany of course, they have a pretty good collection of German Expressionists among other things...the museum is big, and for those who want to take a nice little break to clear their "art palate", so to speak - there is a very good, posh restaurant called "Café-Restaurant "Holbein's" right there at the museum...we had a long leisurely lunch on the terrace there, and it was very pleasant...





I am posting here a few pictures of what we both liked at Städel (it's far from all, just a few)...




 



 



 







and there was also a temporary exhibit in the museum -  "Caravaggio in Holland"...I probably should've lowered my expectations right there - after all, Caravaggio had never been to Holland...there were only a few of his paintings at this exhibition, the rest of it consisted of works by various Dutch painters influenced by Caravaggio...apparently, Caravaggio had many followers especially in Holland...
I found it curious though that two paintings by Caravaggio from a private collection were quite alike - even named the same: "Lute Player"...I am showing them here, so - judge for yourself...

you can even play a game "can you spot 7 differences ? "  ...with Caravaggio, no less! :)







it was already late when we left this museum...but we still walked a little, had some dinner and then went to collect our luggage...we thought we could wait a couple of hours for our late night train at the station...the main station seemed to be bustling with life and had plenty of coffee shops, restaurants and comfortable rest areas...so I couldn't imagine that the other station - the one from which our train was supposed to depart - would be the complete opposite...when we arrived, at first we didn't even realize it was a station...it was just a long dark underground tunnel with several exits that lead directly to the platforms...but yes, we were at our destination - Frankfurt Süd Bahnhof  ...



there were a few kiosks there, but they were closed...and there was a single bench in the middle of the tunnel - just for us, because we were the only people there anyway...quite a spooky feeling!...later we realized that our fancy train to Prague did not originate in Frankfurt - it was coming from Zurich, and Frankfurt was just a quick stop along the way...




anyway, we still had more than an hour before our train was supposed to arrive, and it was gloomy and unpleasant in this deserted tunnel (even if we had the bench all to ourselves!), so - we decided to venture outside and see if there was some restaurant or internet cafe or something still open...good thing we travel light and could easily roll our carry-ons with us around the neighborhood!...the neighborhood turned out to be a residential and somewhat seedy area...oh, well...as my dear angel likes to say - beggars are not choosers...luckily there was a bar nearby that was still open...it was past midnight and very cold, so - this bar was a godsend to us...





it actually turned out to be pretty cozy inside, with several locals still drinking and chatting...so that's where we spent our last hour in Frankfurt...








the train arrived right on schedule (it was Germany, after all  - everything is on schedule!), and it stopped in Frankfurt for exactly 5 minutes...I booked us a compartment for two with private bathroom (a very tiny one, but still), so - it was quite comfortable....despite it being late we didn't go to bed right away, but eventually the gentle rocking of the train put us to sleep...in the morning, we would wake up in Prague....
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Where I stayed

Comments

yongkj
yongkj on

Question about Sud station security
HI. My family will be travelling to Prague on the same overnight train in Frankfurt this September (12.55am departure). Is the Frankfurt Sud station safe at this time of the night. Are there no other people around eg commuters, ticketing people, guards etc? I am just wondering whether I should be there just before the train arrives or should I go a bit earlier.

irenan
irenan on

train Frankfurt-Prague
to answer your question - we didn't really feel unsafe there... but there were no people around (besides, it was past midnight) and practically no places to wait for the train, so - if I had to do it again, I would arrive just in time for the train...also keep in mind that this train does not originate in Frankfurt, and so it stops at this station only for 5 minutes...
if you have any other questions - I'll try my best to answer...
enjoy your trip! :)

irenan
irenan on

Re: train Frankfurt-Prague
and no - we didn't see any guards, ticketing people ( various kiosks and ticket booths were all closed) or security...but! on the bright side - we didn't see any dangerous-looking people either...just - no people at all...
there was another train right before ours - and that was the only time when we saw two or three people who went to the platform to board that train...I think we were the only two people who boarded our train...so, don't expect much commotion at this station...I wouldn't even call it a real station - just a long underground tunnel with several exits to the platforms...

yongkj
yongkj on

Train Frankfurt to Prague
Hi Irenan.
Thanks so much for your reply. Our flight arrives in Frankfurt Airport around 9pm. We will probably spend some time at Frankfurt airport before going to the station! How was the train journey itself? Was it comfortable? Hope that I am not bothering you with these silly questions!

irenan
irenan on

Re: Train Frankfurt to Prague
Noooooo, you are not bothering me at all! I think that's one of the main purposes of all these travel sites - to help each other with advice and personal experiences...so many people were helping me in my planning, and I am only happy to return the favor...

as for your question:

the train was quite comfortable...we had a compartment for 2 people with little private shower, sink and toilet...the shower was tiny, but it was still nice to have...in the morning they served us breakfast - nothing special (coffee/tea, yogurt,packaged cheese and ham, jam, rolls, cereal), but if you are not picky - it'll do...the train was clean and arrived on time...
now, we've been on many overnight trains (in Thailand, Russia, Spain/Portugal), and this was one of the nicest...the only other overnight train that was as good was the one we took from Vienna to Frankfurt...
hope it helped somewhat...
if you have more questions - please don't hesitate to ask!!! :)

yongkj
yongkj on

Train Frankfurt to Prague
Hi Irenan! Thank you so much for all the information. We will be leaving for our trip in 3 weeks' time. Will get back to you about our holiday! All the best!!

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