Settle in, folks. Stories from another adventure abroad have begun, so you'll be here listening to these until Christmas 2019 at the rate I usually tell them. Kidding. I hope.
So, Frankfurt! In all the excitement of planning and anticipating our two weeks in the Balkans, the fact that we'd have seven whole hours in Frankfurt completely slipped our minds. Which is ridiculous because I mean, how often can you just casually throw around the statement, I'll be spending my afternoon in Germany. Thus, two days before our flight, I was frantically searching every nook and cranny of Google, trying to cobble together a decent plan for our layover. As these things go, once I was deep in the rabbit hole, I became obsessed with all things Frankfurt, and couldn't mask my glee for a second the moment we landed.
It took us quite some time to actually leave the airport, what with EMTs called onto our plane, the huuuuge terminal, getting lost trying to locate the luggage storage and S-bahn station, the least helpful signs of all time that had us walking around in circles, and our lack of smaller Euro bills to buy train tickets (thank you SO much, friendly German strangers!). But once we did emerge on the other side, oh boy were we in for a treat!
It was when Leah and I arrived at Frankfurt's main train station that it finally hit us–we're in freaking Europe now! We took a second to stand there in the middle of the madness, people around us coming and going and rushing to their next destinations, and we took it all in. And then, Leah kept on exclaiming, you mean I can literally just hop on one of these and go to Paris?! Or Amsterdam?
I was all, slow it down, buddy. Let's see Frankfurt first!
We somehow managed to find the U-bahn that took us to Römerberg, the historic square of the city. Though we were warned of Römerberg's touristy nature, we were still utterly charmed at first sight. Ignoring the souvenir shops and the tourist trap restaurants, Leah and I meandered about the square, stopping for a photo here and marveling at the architecture there.
Before long, we couldn't ignore our grumbling stomachs anymore–subpar airplane food could only sustain us for so long. We followed the flow of the crowd (itineraries be damned!) towards what looked like the more modern part of town, and ducked under the awning of a restaurant that we noticed a few locals stopping by.
They didn't lead us astray! We feasted on bratwurst and paprikawurst, sandwiched by a deliciously chewy and crusty bun, washed down with bottles of Apfelwein (which we thought tasted like very diluted apple cider). This was likely the most documented ten minutes of our trip–those bratwursts starred in Instagrams, Snapchat, Boomerang, DSLR photos, and iPhone photos and videos.
We'll blame it on the jet lag.
As we were eating, I noticed a piece of paper pinned onto a light pole with an arrow and the word Kleinmarkthalle, a big food market that I'd read about online. After brushing crumbs off of ourselves, we followed the sign and explored the market that was literally around the corner–pastry shops, fresh fruits and vegetables, butcher shops, it had everything!
Next, we headed towards the banks of the Main River, and strolled leisurely alongside the rest of the Frankfurt crowd.
It was so picturesque, you guys.
We basked under the bright sun, taking in the bright, bright blue sky. We watched as the elderly ambled up and down the sidewalk aided by walkers, and more nimble folk speed by on skateboards and bikes. It reminded me so much of the banks of the Seine river, albeit much more lowkey. In fact, from one particular vantage point from the pedestrian bridge, I would not have been able to tell the Main and the Seine apart. Alas, once you looked outwards past the river and its banks, there was a distinctly different vibe. New England college town meets Paris, if you will.
Above is the vantage point I was speaking of! There's even a church right where the Notre Dame would stand. Am I crazy?!
Weighed down by heavy tote bags, Leah and I decided to search for a cafe at which we could take a breather. Realizing that Cafe Sugar Mama, touted by many travel guide as the hip place to grab a bite, was in our close vicinity, I championed hard for a visit.
Truly a gem! A blogger's dream: adorably mismatched furniture, lots of funky pillows and lush greenery. Plenty of outdoor seating where you can stake out for optimal sunshine and people-watching. Best of all–lovely cappuccinos and treats. Leah and I shared a delicious crumb-cake, topped up with juicy peaches and ice cold creamy vanilla ice cream, much appreciated on such a hot day.
Feeling stuffed, we agreed on one last wander, this time up and over the pedestrian bridge Eiserner Steg, where we enjoyed unparalleled views.
Older, more traditional side of Frankfurt.
And the more modern hub of banks and shopping centers and office buildings:
All stunning, truly!
With that, we romped through delightful Römerberg one more time (doesn't it remind you of Disneyland?!), located the U-bahn, and waved 'Auf Wiedersehen' to Germany. For someone who's never stepped foot in the country before, it was a most wonderful introduction. I'm scheming to return ASAP to see more of Germany!
But alas, for the time being, it was time to bow out and await our midnight flight into Belgrade, Serbia.