Sleepless in Frankfurt
Dusseldorf Travel Blog› entry 3 of 4 › view all entries
By the time we walked the short distance from the Frankfurt train station to our hotel the sun was setting and a definite chill had settled over the city and our recently thawed extremities. Our hotel was located in a very eclectic part of town; a mixture of small Turkish cafes, bric-a-brac shops, family owned groceries, an Irish pub, several language schools, a youth hostel and numerous adult entertainment emporiums.By this time we had been up nearly 30 some odd hours and as tempted as we were to check out some of the local establishments, we settled on a quiet evening in and dinner at the Chinese restaurant attached to our hotel. We were not surprised to find the food quite tasty as everyone in the restaurant was of Asian descent (except ourselves) or the other possibility was that they were all related to the owners and were in for a free meal.
Perhaps it was the jetlag or the effects of being over tired, but although we were both exhausted, we only managed 4 hours of sleep. We were awake at 0300, checking flight loads on Mark's laptop. "Can we fly on Air India?", he asked as we sat in bed drinking coffee and eating cookies. Apparently, Air India flies from Frankfurt to somewhere in the U.S. and he was taking no chances for finding a couple of empty seats for our return home. As it turns out, we did have flight benefits on Air India but I had no intention of ending up in Mumbai. We decided to worry about our return flight a little later and settled back into bed for a few more hours of sleep. More than five hours later we awakened to discover that not only had we slept soundly, we had now missed breakfast which was included with our room.
In order to get to Frankfurt's historical Romerberg old town centre, we walked through the financial district of town, past the European Central Bank, which is the issuing bank of the "Euro". In case you might miss it, they have a really big "Euro" symbol out in the middle of the platz in front of the building. As far as I can tell, Frankfurt has three really distinct archectural periods. The old town, encompasses the well known three gabled city hall in use since the early 1400's. The mid-modern area, which includes most of the city, is made up of street after street of austere, bland, stone fronted buildings with a very militaryesque (is that a word?) demeanor.
We reached the street market to find an endless lineup of "Christmassy" booths selling the obligatory mulled wines, bratwursts and thin beef steaks sandwiches, gingerbread cookies as well as roasting chestnuts, Kartofelpuffin (potato pancakes) with choice of apple sauce, garlic sauce or sourcream and an interesting display of chocolate and nut covered lumps which we discovered was a marshmallow creme type filling. After trying a little bit of everything, we settled into walking every square inch of the twisting streets and alleys, absorbing as much frigid air and Christmas spirit as we could.
We were beginning to wonder how the locals could manage the extreme temperatures when we ran across their secret. As we reached our next plateau of cold tolerance and our feet were becoming frozen stumps, we stumbled upon (literally) a restaurant on the top level of a highrise department store. We found gigantic cups of steaming coffees in every form (a la Starbucks) and seemingly endless islands of hot foods, cold foods and desserts. We were soon warming our hands around our hot cups and enjoying a well earned rest from the hours of walking that we only seem to do when we are in a foreign country.
Reluctlantly, we made our way out into the visible chill hanging in the air with each breath we took. The market had taken on a new life. Gone were the tacky bits of commercialism, replaced with a child's vision of a holiday fairyland. To our amazement, the crowds had increased as the city workers left their offices and began to congregate with hot mulled wine (and other spirits) in hand. Music and aromas filled the air and the enjoyment of Christmas fellowship could be felt. We marveled at the 30 meter ornately decorated tree that has been making its appearance at the market since the beginning of the 19 century and is widely recognized as the true symbol of the Frankfurt Christmas Market.
The walk back to our hotel wasn't as long as our enjoyment of the scenes that had been laid before us. Had we found the true Christmas spirit over 6000 miles away from our Arizona desert and would we find our long lost suitcase upon reaching our room at the inn?