Sunday, September 27, 2015

Frankfurt - our overnight pitstop to Switzerland

From this post on, I unfold my second part of Schengen countries travelogue as promised in my last post giving my plan for the next two Schengen countries we had planned to visit last October 2014.

After detailed planning by my elder son Waqaace, we were ready by 2nd OCtober to embark upon a rather longer stretch of our second part of travel to Switzerland and Italy by traversing the entire length of Germany from Kiel down to Switzerland. Since the distances were rather over stretched, we chose Frankfurt as our overnight pitstop to rest, see Frankfurt and then move on.

Our choice of car for this time too was BMW for its superior navigation system that was not very accurate but also very responsive to traffic situation and making quick decisions to re-route so as not to get into traffic congestions.

My wife poses with the car while my son is busy feeding the waypoints in the navigation system of the car

As is usual with preparations and last minutes forgetful things, our journey was delayed and delayed and when finally we started rolling, I knew we ill miss any daylight view of Frankfurt. 

We chose the shortest distance from Kiel to Frankfurt via Hamburg and Hanover - some 600 kilometres that were to take us almost seven hours including two coffee breaks for young at heart old driver like me.
 Driving into Frankfurt

We finally made it to Frankfurt well late into the evening and our navigation system took us dot on the the Garni Hotel, hidden just behind the Frankfurt Marriott Hotel - a place without the help of navigation system would have been hard to find..


Although we had booked two separate rooms for the couple and two sons, the Indian receptionist was extra nice to have accommodated into a suite as Frankfurt was closed for next day - something that was a big jolt to our plans to spend a most part of the next day visiting the city.

We hurriedly dumped our luggage and directly hit the city center through empty streets with hardly any traffic for a big city like Frankfurt, as can be seen in the photo above. Not very sure of what had happened to the city, we moved to the city center and came across an impressive building which came to know to be the Alte Oper, now a concert hall, at Opernplatz or the Opera Square (below).

Now called the Old Opera House (Alte Oper), the building was constructed in 1880 in the style of the Italian High Renaissance. Although heavily damaged by the allied bombs in 1944, it reopened in 1981. Upon reopening, Alte Oper was converted into a concert hall. Many important concerts have been premiered here, including Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana".

Moving forward we came to the main square of the city center with an impressive old building and the church.

The old building in the backdrop of high rising modern Frankfurt architecture (above) is known as the Hauptwache of the 'main guard-house.' This building was constructed in 1730 as a prison. It is situated in the city centre opposite to St. Catherine's Church (photo below) and houses a famous café. Because of presence of the historic building of Hauptwache, the square surrounding the building is also called "Hauptwache." 

St. Catherine's Church

After taking a few snaps, we moved forward in the long brightly lit alley which shouldered some of the spectacular malls and show cases of renowned brands of the Europe.

The area was flooded with tourists and youngsters enjoy their long weekend and the 'holiday' next day. Yes, that was the hidden surprise of roads being almost empty - 3rd October, that is the next day, was a closed holiday - something we did not check before planning our journey and were to restricted to see rather empty streets and closed malls of Frankfurt the next day. 

3rd October is the Day of the German Unity or Tag der Deutschen Einheit and is the national day of Germany. The day commemorates the anniversary of German reunification in 1990, when the goal of a united Germany that originated in the middle of the 19th century, was fulfilled again.

The long walk on the well lit pavement housing some of the best shopping malls of Europe


And may be for a long weekend, the owner of this roadside eatery chained his benches and tables, lest he does not find these when he opened up on Monday. My friends in Pakistan should be much perturbed to see the glass attached to a chain in some places - thieves are all alike all over the world: Leave out something worth taking or should I say easily-taken, and it would not be there when unattended.

 Galeria: We were to return to this building next day to have a 'overview' of Frankfurt

 Moving up perhaps the tallest escalator I have ever come across - may be some 300-400 steps at a stretch (or may be even more)

My son find a good resting place on this metal sculpture
Finally a place to rest

As can be seen from our face expressions, specially mine, we were dead tired by now as we had had a long drive and then straightaway dashing to the city center which involved lot of walking and we really needed a rest and thought of calling it a day.

Next day, we were to meet a friend of a friend who made sure we see what we had not seen if he had not accompanied us: The Frankfurt overview. Keep reading my next few posts on Frankfurt.

If you like Jaho Jalal, please follow us on Facebook