Germany is Good again!
12.07.2013 - 16.07.2013 29 °C
We arrived in Frankfurt and our post Dusseldorf downer was instantly erased within minutes of arriving. This city had character less concrete block buildings, cleaner, well organised and had a good buzz about it. Our hostel was also really easy to find - minutes walk from the train station.
The Five Elements Hostel http://5elementshostel.de/web/index.php was a world away from out hostel in Dusseldorf (which has left a snotty response to our review by the way - obviously can't handle the truth!). It was immaculately clean, everything looked brand new (although apparently it isn't!), free breakfast, free wifi, things like free walking tours, free crepe night and a ridiculously cheap BBQ night and cheap beer (€4.50 for a pitcher, around 3 pints)! Perfect! Our room was great too. We had gone for a private double as it was only €1 more than being a dorm and it was large and spacious. The floor we were on also had it's own communal kitchen area meaning we did not need to use the main one downstairs, and no one else seemed to know about it so it was like we had our own apartment! The bathrooms were shared but you had 3 between 5 rooms and they were fab, wet rooms with a massive shower head from the celling and enough room for two people.
Now admittedly it was in the middle of the Red Light District (I say district - it is really two streets). The hostel is very upfront about this explaining all over the website and in their confirmation emails etc, so we knew what we getting and it was honestly fine. We were 30 seconds (if that) off the main street where all the bars and restaurants are and there are plenty of "normal" shops on the streets too. We soon realised it was not the establishments or their clientele that were the issue, but the drug users who would literally find a doorstep and start injecting themselves (which I and other guests were fascinated by and occasionally watched from the bar open mouthed). Anyway as I say it really was fine - they left you alone, we both felt perfectly safe and the hostel was fantastic! So much so we ended up extending our two night stay to four!
Anyway, we checked in, and knew that our room would not be ready so put our bags in storage and went off in search of food and to see what Frankfurt had to offer. As usual we went to the TI in the train station, which also had lots of great places to get sandwiches. After checking out all the sandwich shops for the most economical we headed for a nearby park to eat, plan and sun bath a little. As all good maps have there was a self guided walking tour so we started walking the route, taking in the amazing architecture of the old town (Altstadt), strolling along the river Main with it's beautiful grass embankments, walking by the museum row that had a museum for everything and finally ending up in the shopping district (which to be fair was just like notts but super-sized - three H&M's on one street!). It was then off to the supermarket to get items for sandwiches (I think we had now had cheese and ham sandwiches for a whole month!) and a tuna salad which we prepared in our apartment like kitchen, perfect. Then, as has been custom these days, we spent the evening researching where to go next and catching up with emails - only this time we enjoyed a beer or two at the same time. After frantically searching for some where to stay in Munich and getting stressed that we had no where to sleep in two days we called it a night.
The morning after a brilliant nights sleep in an actual bed (not a bunk in site) we started our search again! Just 10 minutes and we would be off to explore one of little villages the TI had told us about. 2 hours later (opps) and we had booked another night in Frankfurt, a night train to Vienna, 3 nights in Vienna a train back to Germany and Munich and yeah 4 nights there. By this time it was too late to go to a village so we decided we would check out the museums. Another trip to the TI to find out what Frankfurt had to offer for a museum go'er (which is a LOT!) we settled down by the river embankment to eat lunch and for me to read about all the museums, while Nick enjoyed the sun. Now as all of you know I like a bargain and to get my money's worth, so when I saw that you could get a two day museum pass for €18 I was intrigued however there were really only 3 I wanted to see and would maybe go in the others. So I dragged Nick to the three I wanted to see to find out how much they were and by the time I got to the last one I had decided it was worth buying the two day card (which has paid for it's self by going to the two main ones). After a coffee we decided to split up to save Nick from the torture of round them all again and having to wait for me.
The first one (Museum für Moderne Kunst) was rubbish! Lots of weird phallic furniture and unrelated objet trouvé, I wondered if I had done the right thing. I then headed across the river to the Museum für angewandte Kunst which was amazing and Nick would have loved. It had old Japanese Prints, an exhibit on Korean design (the best bit), a large section of German design and then across a bridge into an old 19th century house where each room had been decorated in a different decade showing the influences of other countries. It was a bit like the V&A in London.
I therefore I would try the Museum für Kommunikation again this turned out to be fab and totally related to what we are doing, it had an exhibition on Graphic communication between countries, things like how red is bad in the UK but is good luck in China and how a hand symbol may mean the devil or nice to see you. As a Graphic designer this was so fascinating.
I met Nick back at the hostel to discover that he had been walking the whole time I was in the museums and had seen most of Frankfurt! After freshening up we decided to have a night off cooking and researching so joined in the BBQ (€2 for a burger - bargain so we had two and two pitchers) and met a love girl Jessy another Canadian who had just travelled a lot of Europe and was on her way home.
Early the next morning after our all you can eat breakfast, we were back on a train heading for Braubach to see the Marksburg Castle. Two hours later and a 20 minute uphill walk we were at the amazing castle, the only one still fully intact and not modernised in the Rhine Valley. It was then that Nick started to get deja-vu. Could this be the castle he visited on his year 8 German field trip? To visit this castle you had to join a tour, having just missed a tour we had to wait 20 minutes for the next one so decided to sit down on the terrace. Unfortunately it had been invaded by a large group of boys looking about the age of 12 all taking English and surrounded by teaches telling them how to say things in German. Conformation that this must be the place Nick came with school. Once in the castle it all started flooding back but luckily he enjoyed the tour as if it was new. Once the tour was over we wanted to get a better view of the castle to take a photo, earlier we had purchased a walking map from the TI, not being in our boots we decided to do a short walk up to a viewing area. The weather was HOT! 29/30 with little wind and clouds and the accent up was killer even though it was only 40 minutes but worth it though. If we had more time and our boots we could have enjoyed one of the longer routes easily. However decided to head back into the small beautiful town and have drink before getting our train back.
While travelling like this you often don't know what time, day or date it is and it was therefore a surprise that once we got off the train the supermarket was closed. Apparently it was Sunday and all the shops close on Sundays, plus it was well after 7pm, dinner would have to be a take out (the first one since we have been travelling). The hostel recommended a Pizza place where you could get a pizza for €5 so we ordered a ham, mushroom and sweetcorn pizza (however it turned out that we actually had a ham, mushroom and onion pizza, could have been worst) and took it back to eat with our leftover salad.
Monday and again we started the day with a train journey to Rudesheim a small town that had a cable-car up to a large monument with a large wooded area to explore. It's also a huge vineyard and if you like wine it's the place to go and taste them, the home of Riesling and Gorge Brut, totally lost on us. I have never been in a cable car so we decided to take it up and walk through the vineyards back down. As it turned out once we were sat in the cable-car, Nick had deja-vu again could this be the other town he visited in his year 8 trip? It seemed we were reliving his German holiday 18 years ago. Once back down and weaving our way through the vineyards it was back home to Five Elements and a much needed shower. After another dinner of pasta we decided to participate in the free crepe's night at the hostel, it was hard work but someone had to do it.
The next day we had decided to chill out as we were getting a night train at 23:00 to Vienna and decided we needed to relax a bit. Breakfast severed till 12:00 so we had a lay-in and enjoyed a slow breakfast at 11:00 checking out at 12:00 and leaving our things with the hostel. I was in need of a book shop as I had finished both my books and using my Kindle on my phone was making the battery only last half a day. I had googled book shops and discovered The English Book Store, Nick had remembered seeing it when he did is big tour so we headed straight for it. After purchasing 3 books we went off to the supermarket to get picnic supplies and from there we went to the river embankment and chilled. By 7pm we decided to head back to the hostel who kindly said we could still use the bar and Wi-Fi. Still being good weather the hostel had put on another BBQ so dinner was sorted this time we stuck to the free tea and coffee although in hind-site we should have started drinking. To kill the last couple of hours we started to plan our route after Munich, booking another train and three nights accommodation in Slovenia. Time was up and we had to grab our bags and head for the night train...