A Semester Abroad || Frankfurt, Germany

My travels abroad began on Christmas Day. Matthew, a friend of mine, and I left Brisbane airport at 3am and proceeded to spend the next 27 hours of our Christmas in transit. We arrived weary eyed but excited in Frankfurt, Germany. We caught a cab to our hotel when I tried to speak German to the driver. I say tried, I mean failed. I had only been in the country for a few minutes and I was already destroying the language. My German teacher would be so proud. The cab driver and I had a little giggle about it, and he drove us to our hotel.

Despite sleeping for the majority of the flight, I was wrecked. The moment I stepped foot into our room I got into bed and had a nap. We had a few hours spare before my friend Kaity met us at the hotel. When she arrived, she walked into this tiny little room and could only see Matt sitting on one of the beds. She had never met Matt before so she was a little confused until Matt pointed to me stirring awake. After a catch up we realised that we were running a little late to our Christmas dinner booking. We rushed through the cold to the train station and hurried through buying a ticket. In our frantic search for the platform, we walked down one of the disused staircases. We were met with the smell of urine and a man shooting up on heroin. Welcome to Frankfurt. We dodged the puddles and got down to the platform. We arrived at our dinner reservation 15 minutes late. The waiter was quite scandalized that we considred 15 minutes late to be acceptable. I forgot how punctual the Germans are. The three of us then enjoyed a delicious Christmas dinner, waddled back to the hotel, with our tummies filled.

Day two in Frankfurt. I awoke quite early to find that Kaity was not in her bed. I found her in the bathroom, sleeping on towels. My snoring had kept her up all night and she could only escape it by sleeping in the bathroom. Whoops, I never realised I was that bad. We then went to explore Frankfurt in the day. It was Boxing Day, so I expected there to be people around. I’m used shopping centres being busy because of Boxing Day sales. However, it was also a Sunday, and apparently nothing is open on Sundays in Germany. It was surreal walking through a deserted city. We found the most beautiful and quaint part of Frankfurt, the old town square.

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We quickly realised that we had explored all that Frankfurt had to offer and took a train to Heidelberg, just a casual hour train ride away. Heidelberg was fantastic. We explored the old castle that had views over the town.

 

We strolled down by the river as the sun set, it was a picturesque German village, exactly what I envisioned Germany to be like.

Day Three started with the three of us getting up early and training out to Lorsbach. By now we were quite confident with the Frankfurt S-bahn (train system). Perhaps a little too confident. We got ticketed on the train out to Lorsbach. When we presented out day pass the ticket man responds with ‘Das ist Falsche’. The last words you want to hear in a foreign country, ‘that is false’. Kaity’s German was quite good, I could get by on mine, and Matthew’s was nonexistant. Turns out we had bought the wrong day pass for Lorsbach, that wiped the confident smiles off our faces. They were going to fine us all 60 euro each (equivalent to 90AUD) but they let us off lightly and only fined us 60 euro all up. After that excitement we were happy to arrive in Lorsbach. We were heading to der Baha’i Haus der Andact. To get there on our now considerably smaller budget we had to walk up through the Taunus Mountains. So, we started walking up this path that lead us into a forest.

As we were walking we realised that we could no longer see the path. All I was thinking was ‘if we were tourists in Australia we would die, there would be snakes everywhere and the locals would laugh at us for being so naive’. We had some reception to show us the way, so we hoped it was correct. We came across these wooden structures, which of course I had to climb (you’ll soon notice a climbing theme in these stories). I think they are used for hunting.

We made our way up to der Baha’i Haus der Andact, which is a place of worship for the Baha’i faith.

 

I was quite impressed with the architecture. At first Matt, Kaity and I had all joked that it looked like a giant nipple. However, when we got there was an air of tranquility and peacfulness that I was not expecting. The ceiling was astounding from the inside, and it was surrounded by lush gardens. Another aspect that I really liked was that it had 9 points of entrance. This was to signify the other 9 big religions, and it meanss that anyone can enter in worship and prayer. I liked the significance of bringing everyone together, no matter the religion, race etc.

That afternoon, we caught a train back in the direction of Frankfurt, and said that if we liked the look of a station/town we would get off for lunch. This lead us to the town of Hofheim. We explored the Altstadt (Old Town) where Kaity found a London Telephone Box. It was restored as a bookcase, where you take a book if you leave a book. The hipster side of me really likes that sort of thing.

 

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‘If only I could actually read a German book’

 

We lunched in a resteraunt in a tower. The special that day was goulash with dumplings, it was almost as good as my Grandfathers. Sitting next to us was this German family, and their daughter would have been 5 years old speaking rapid German. I turned to Kaity and joked ‘a five year old is better than me’, she wisely responded with ‘yes, but she’s been speaking it for years longer than you have’. I really hadn’t considered that. That night we trained up to Geissen. Somehow, Geissen was just as boring as Frankfirt. We had gone up to visit Kaity’s old school friend, Johannes. He took us out to dinner and highly recommended a certain burger. I love listening to people’s recommendations, but also was feeling a schnitzel. So in the wise words of the tacos advertisement

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And I had myself a burger with a schnitzel added on it. Johannes’ face was priceless. I have never seen food envy so strong, it was beautiful.

Day four was our first travel day. Kaity was heading back to Australia, and we were continuing onto Amsterdam. Matt and I were lost little puppies, we had no idea how the Eurail system worked. Luckily, Kaity helped us out and told us how to authorise our tickets and reserve seats. We then had a few hours spare before our train, so we went ultimate Australian tourist and went and bought a beer. It was such a novelty, walking around the city with a beer. Matt and I then explored Frankfurt with a beer in one hand and our suitcases in another.

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We had made our way back to the station with plenty of time. I was determined that it would be the one train I wouldn’t have to rush to. Eager us had our tickets out and ready to be checked, determined to do it right. It all went smoothly and we left to Amsterdam.