Saturday, December 14
On day one of our epic journey, I met my cousins M and D at the Frankfurt am Main airport to begin the trip. They were lucky enough to have direct flight in from Detroit (thank you, Delta!). As we were leaving the airport through the parking garage, they were immediately struck by the Fraunenparkplatz. Of course, it's not hard to miss at the airport because it's painted this crazy Pepto Bismol pink, maybe to drive home the fact that it's parking reserved for women.
The first order of business (in my mind, at least) was to ditch my car and get on the public transportation, which was available at the Stadion Park and Ride lot just a short drive from the airport. We grabbed a Gruppentageskarte, which allowed us to take the train into town and ride the public transportation in Frankfurt for one rate.
Our first stop was Römerberg and we visited the cozy (reproduction of the original) square. Since I have been to Frankfurt once before in the fall, I cheated and took my cousins through the same tour that I wrote about here, except I skipped Sachenhausen. I also started to tell them about the "very special" local drink, Apfelwein, talking about how the locals are so fond of it. M and D were keen to hear more about it. However, I don't want them to make the same mistake that I did and try to drink the bitter stuff so I came clean and told them that it doesn't taste good at all. Even my German colleague, who lives in the area, has agreed how unpleasant we find it. With a name like "apfelwein," it brings to mind a sweet, fruity wine. It's definitely not! It's a bitter cider. Be warned!
After we cleared up the mystery surrounding apfelwein, we enjoyed the Christmas market in the Römerberg square and then moved on to Paulskirche. I also mentioned that in the linked entry, Paulskirche is where the first constitution of Germany was written. Luckily for us, it was actually open that day so we took a look around inside. There are displays on the walls (in German and English) that tell the history of the building and the German struggle for democracy.
We continued with a visit to the Kleinmarkthalle and then on to the horror of all horrors: Primark on a Saturday. It's a clothing store chain that sells excellent warm leggings. I prepared my cousins and told them that my plan was to get in, grab some leggings and pay, and get the heck out. As I had expected, it was pure chaos but we managed to complete the errand (though I screwed up and bought tights instead of leggings, but they're still warm so it was okay).
After that, we were all quite worn out from our wanderings and my cousins were tired from jetlag. I attempted to get us back to the Park and Ride. Though I've visited Frankfurt before, I won't lie: I found the Hauptbahnhof incredibly confusing (am I just dumb, or do others find it that way, too?). It seems like I always stumble along, trying to find the U-Bahn within the confluence of the S-Bahn, buses, and long distance trains. Getting back to the Stadion stop is confusing, too, because of the number of lines that stop there and getting the right one that actually makes the stop. After fumbling around, I finally got us back and we drove to Kaiserslautern and took a much-needed nap so we could attend the House of Sustainability's Christmas Market in the forest. There is more about that to come...