Day 1 in Frankfurt – still awake!

Well I’m exhausted, but still functional! Last night the flight from Toronto to Frankfurt was about as good as could reasonably be expected – better even. I was flying on the new Dreamliner, which is a beautiful plane, and in my row of 3 we had the middle seat empty! Every economy class passengers dream!

That being said, I still don’t sleep well on flights.

After the meal I threw on the noise canceling headphones and eye mask, shifting positions for four hours or so, occasionally nodding off for a few minutes here or there, and I mean it was restful, but there was no actual sleep in there. I “woke up” again about an hour out from Frankfurt and was seriously considering the possibility of grabbing a hotel and just crashing.

Passport control was a bit long as usual in the “all passports” queue (they need to accept my NEXUS card!!!) but the friendly border agent told me that he thinks soon (like tomorrow) Canadian’s will be able to use the automated lanes that are currently reserved for EU only, so if that happens I’ll be thrilled (need to Google around for that one). Not sure if it’s just for Germany or for all of the Schengen zone, we will see!

My checked bag is very kindly (assuming it makes it) being sent right along through to Johannesburg so I didn’t have to worry about picking it up and Frankfurt and dealing with it for the day, but my carry on isn’t exactly light so I did have to lug that around, though after my brain began to function again I did eventually find a locker for it.

Anyway, I hopped on the S-Bahn from the airport to the Central station (reminder – about 200x the size of the Toronto subway line), a very nice three station trip which costs about 10 EUR for a day pass and immediately upon stepping into Central and looking around that big old train station my fatigue started to wear off and was replaced with a big grin. There’s something about those train stations that always impresses me. Frankfurt has a bunch of skyscrapers, but stepping out of the Central station you’re greeted with buildings that have been there forever and give you that true European feel.

There is a little section of the street that is closed off and turned into a little market (and seems to be permanent, since it was closed off when I was here last too) where I found a traditional German bratwurst and some fries for lunch. I was seriously tempted by a thin crust wood fired pizza just down the road but I thought if I’m in Germany, gotta go for the brat!

Unfortunately my IKEA buddies couldn’t meet with me today, they wound up being busy with work or out of town so I got more of the day to myself than I had anticipated, which worked out great. The last time I was here I only had a few daylight hours to look around, and it was cold! Today, it was 15 degrees and I got rid of my jacket at the first possible opportunity. I was walking around in a t-shirt absolutely thrilled. A nice change from the Canadian snowpocalypse that I left behind!

I quickly refamiliarized myself with the city and was pleased that I still remembered the general layout. I made my way around some of the places I checked out last time and just wandered around for a while after grabbing some food, then I decided to start spinning off into a random direction and found some great stuff. I came across a lovely cathedral that’s talked about as one of the Frankfurt attractions so decided to check that out… I bought a ticket (3 EUR) and discovered that I had bought a ticket to the tower. The tower is a 328 stair 66 meter climb which I wasn’t really thinking of doing, but after that I’m hoping I fall asleep a little easier tonight! It was a hike. I’m now questioning the idea of climbing the CN tower the weekend after I get back :p
The staircase was tiny, and there was no separate “down” stairs so you got very closely acquainted with anyone going in the opposite direction but it was a very nice reward at the end with some beautiful panoramic views of the city, so I’m glad I did it.

I also found the water, which I’m generally drawn to in any city and spent an hour or so lounging around there, and then kept walking in random directions finding other interesting buildings and things to look at around Frankfurt. I didn’t have time (or energy) to cross the bridge, hopefully the next time I visit I’ll be able to spend more than a few hours and really do some more exploring.

I will admit this may be the last time I decide to do a two night overnight flight kind of itinerary… it’s not exactly friendly on the body. I’ll also admit to having a longing to have a couple of pure “relax” days at the beginning to detox a bit, so next trip may need to build that in somewhere. One trip at a time!

So by the time I had done my exploring I was literally having to pick myself up off the ground and decided it was as good of a time as any to return to the airport. On the S-Bahn I was nodding off a bit so I decided to try something new that I haven’t done before – airp
ort showers! For the very reasonable cost of 6 EUR I got myself into a shower at the airport and it turned out to be great! Can’t say every airport will be the same, but here in Frankfurt I got a nice sized shower, a little sitting area, a private bathroom, all the soap and shampoo and whatever else you could possibly want (me anyway), towels and a little personal vanity kit! I was very impressed, and it gave me a nice refresh after a long couple of days.

Security was quite quick this time around (even without my NEXUS fast pass line) so I got myself in, planted myself down for a bit and decided to write this out while I’ve still got some stamina before wrapping things up. I think I’ll grab a light dinner before boarding then they’ll probably feed us again an hour or so in, hopefully I’ll stay awake for that and then with any luck (and a very busy day with 19,781 steps or about 14.5km) I’ll pass out for the rest of the 11 hour flight, waking up in Johannesburg just in time to land for 8:30am.

Tomorrow I’ll have the day to myself in Johannesburg until 6:30pm when I meet up with the rest of the group at the hotel. I think we’re doing a group dinner and then I get to sleep IN A BED for the last time over the next 10 days. Yikes.

So that’s the update for now, good start to the trip, just need a bit of an energy boost! More tomorrow!