Posts tagged Frankfurt
And the vacation comes to an end! As I am writing this blog, I am once again flying over the Atlantic Ocean heading back to North America – Philadelphia to be exact – where we’ll be taking a connecting flight back to Toronto.
I am actually quite irritated right now, as the lady sitting in front of me – quite the ignorant one, might I add – has decided to recline the seat all the way back, jump in and out of her seat, rustle paper wrap, crush soda cans, and anything that will cause noise and/or discomfort to anyone around her. All I am thinking about right now is five hours left until landing. Clearly, I’ve blessed. Did you catch my sarcasm?
I am saddened to be leaving Europe as it was quite the enjoyable “Amazing Race,” but I am also extremely thrilled to return home to my life, my friends, family, dogs, and work. There, I said it – work. I am, however, not excited to return home to the slew of emails sitting in my inbox. All seven-hundred-and-thirty of them in my WinstonSih.com account alone.
Europe was a great experience for me personally. As I have not been, I was able to learn quite a few things about European culture – something very different from the North American counterpart.
For example, Europeans love to live a relaxed lifestyle. I mean, I know North Americans do too, but Europeans know how to do it well! I love the fact that most cities take Sundays as a day off – something I wish we as Torontonians would do more often. We live in such a rushed society, we rarely get a moment to take a step back, reflect on our daily lives, and to count our blessings. Europeans know how to have fun (*cough* eat *cough*), and make room for family.
Family brings me to my next point of information. I found the people in Europe to be very proud of their country’s culture, traditions and heritage. Now it may sound very cliche – and a great opportunity for the souvenir industry – but in all honesty, I love that a country is able to wear themselves proudly. For example, Paris is proud of their arts and culture; Holland is proud of their countryside windmills/cheese making; and Germany is known for their love of beer. Again they all sound very cliché, but it just shows the true power of tradition and heritage, as well as how it can be presented to visiting tourists.
I also really enjoyed the fact that Europe has a sense of unity. The European Union brings together dozens of countries and bonds them together. It creates a community that unites the continent into one. Living in Toronto, it is not uncommon to see people speak other languages like Tamil, Urdu, Cantonese, Mandarin, and the list goes on. What you rarely see is people speaking our other official language – French. It amazed me that people in Europe are familiar with the multiple official languages of the country, and are able to communicate effectively with other locals.
I can go on and on about how much I enjoyed being a witness to European culture, and I’m also sure there’s a lot I’ve yet to learn. I definitely plan on returning in the future on another journey, exploring a few other new countries, in addition to sharing them with you lovely readers once again. The travel bug has bit me, and I look forward to my next adventure!
Thanks for coming along with me on my March-2012 journey through Europe!
Ever since I’ve been on vacation, I’ve lost track of the day of the week. I woke up realizing it is Sunday, and that stores aren’t open! What were we going to do? I’m so used to being in Toronto, where we can get anything we want, whenever we want, so our touring continued today throughout Germany in what looked like a ghost town.
We left our hotel in Luxembourg, and made our way towards Trier – one of the oldest towns in Germany. We walked around the Ghost-town – acting like “Peeping Toms” in store windows – and visiting some of their landmarks including the Porta Nigra. It was a cloudy and rainy day, so that put a damper on some of our exploration plans.
After, we transferred over to Koblenz, between Bonn and Frankfurt. We walked along the dockside, and visited the remnants of the Berlin Wall. I had a desire to explore some of their local food, so we stopped into a local restaurant where we had their speciality – Braised pig shank over sautéed sauerkraut and mashed potatoes. Included with a pint of beer, the meal was only 10,50€. A steal in my opinion.
The rest of the day was spent driving back to Frankfurt, where we spent some time in their old town, grabbing some good eats and browsing their cafes, before heading back to the Sheraton.
We head back to Frankfurt-Hahn Airport tomorrow afternoon for our flight back to Toronto, connecting through Philadelphia; and marks the end of my vacation! It was a blast, and I plan on doing some reflecting on my 12-HOUR journey home tomorrow. Sigh. Stay tuned for the blog post!
For now, I’m turning in for the evening for a long day ahead. Ciao for now!
After a day and a half in Frankfurt, we moved onto our next destination. We drove towards Amsterdam in the Netherlands, visiting a few places in between. We first stopped in Bonn where we visited their university, town hall, and a few of its famous farmers markets/local boutiques. Again, I was very much impressed with the country’s laissez-faire approach, not to mention their hospitality to their tourists.
I’ve got to hand it over to the Germans here. Their transit system is beyond superb, far superior to that of Toronto, or any other Canadian metro system for that matter. It’s well-developed with interactive digital time schedules everywhere (I have to give credit where credit is due and say that Toronto is starting to develop that too), and they also have a robust fare system so you rarely see long lines for a ticket-taker. Toronto is slated to get the LRT streetcar-train system down the road, and having seen the system operate here in Frankfurt, I honestly can say I can’t wait. I have no doubt that there are quite a few commuters, but looking into the buses, trains and streetcars, one would notice that they’re rarely packed – another sign that their transit system works.
We headed back on the road towards the Netherlands, and we even hit up the infamous German “Autobahn” highway for fun – the highway with no posted speed limit. In reality, it wasn’t nearly as scary as I had anticipated, as people rarely went over 130 kilometres/hour.
Our next stop was Cologne. We visited one of their oldest and largest churches there. We then headed on a mini shopping bonanza on a stretch of road that seemed to turn into a makeshift cobblestone market. Even though there were quite a few mom-and-pop boutiques, one would also notice the presence of many chain franchises that you would typically see in North America (i.e. Subway, Starbucks, McDonalds, Zara, H&M, and LUSH Cosmetics). That didn’t come as a surprise to me. What was unique was the way they were intertwined with one another, so you would see an H&M next to a local pretzel shop; both with an equal amount of shoppers.
Of course, I can’t finish this blog without talking about food. For the foodies out there, their food is definitely not something to complain about, either. I visited many of their pastry-shops making their cheeses, pretzels, chocolates, and danishes in-house, and the smells were unbelievable. I ordered a slice of their pudding-cake to go with my moka-latte, and the price was the best part. 2,99 €, no tax! I was not allowed to snap photos of their food, but I tried to sneak in a few window shots – take a look at them in the gallery below. My favourite store was one that sold every type of pretzel under the rainbow. In the words of Rachael Ray, “Yummo!”
I can definitely see myself living here one day. While I don’t speak German (yet), I love their way of lifestyle. They have a well developed public transit system for the “downtowners,” and if you live in the suburbs, most people drive either a BMW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, or a Volkswagen. I certainly wouldn’t mind either! I find their environment to be very well-kept, and I definitely have an appreciation for the history behind their landmarks.
Now I only spent a day-and-a-half here – definitely not enough – but I certainly plan on returning for a longer period in the not-too-distant future.
Next stop, Amsterdam – chat soon!
The past 48 hours have been insane. We’ve finally landed in Frankfurt (around Sunday 11:00am local time), and we’ve picked up our luggage. We were taken straight to our hotel, where I definitely went straight for my bed. I am definitely living in a totally different time zone compared to the rest of the population here.
This may come as a surprise to you – again, hopefully you caught my sarcasm – my life is extremely fast-paced with several things going on-the-fly, all the time. So for me, sitting still with nothing to do is more exasperating than being busy, running around. When I told my buddy, Curtis, that I would be blogging my way through personal vacation in Europe, the good ol’ “why” question definitely popped into his mind almost instantaneously. It makes sense – why would one create more work, when they’re going on vacation to relax? Well, for me, I think keeping a blog acts as an outlet for my thoughts – similar to keeping a diary. The inner journalist in me wants to broadcast my experiences, possibly enticing you to embark on a similar journey, and open your eyes on this planet we call home.
It is currently Sunday here, so everything happens to be closed. We stayed in a nearby Sheraton Frankfurt, and as I’m used to living in a busy city, it felt as if it were a ghost-town here! I did not see a single soul roaming the streets.
As for first impressions, I found the European roads to be quite different. I must admit, it was quite intimidating – everyone is driving around in either a Mercedes-Benz or an Audi – and the speeds here are quite fast. Horsepower is definitely not something locals use conservatively here. I suppose it also didn’t help that I couldn’t interpret any of the street signs here. German is the main language here; however you can easily squeeze by with English under your belt. I found a very nice French lady here at the Sheraton, so I found communicating with her far easier in that language.
I woke up around 6:00pm local time, and headed down for dinner. Choice was not plentiful here – again as it was a Sunday, it seemed as if everything was closed – so German hotel cuisine it was. For the foodies out there, I had a roasted pork loin dish, with pepper-cream sauce and lemon-thyme spetzel. My overall first impression of the European culture is quite positive – very positive, with quite the laid-back and laissez-faire attitude – definitely quite different from the hustle-and-bustle of Toronto.
Internet access is quite limited here, and free Wi-Fi usually comes with a time limit. In “Happy Endings” TV slang, “that sooks.” I’m continuing to take many photo and writing blog posts. While I may be slow in posting them up, they’re coming! So stay tuned.
4:02pm EST, Saturday, March 10, 2012
I suppose since I’m not doing work right now, I’m currently in vacation mode! As I’m writing up this entry, I’m sitting in the waiting area at Gate F82 in the Toronto Pearson International Airport. Did I mention I arrived three hours ahead of my flight – thinking there would be a massive line up – seeing as it is March Break? Well, here is a photo of the mass exodus.
Hopefully, you caught my sarcasm…
In day one of my European journey, jet-setting is the name of the game. Our flight leaves at 5:06pm EST, and arrives in our connecting city – Charlotte – around 7:00pm EST. We hop on our Trans-Atlantic flight around 8:30pm EST and arrive the next day at 10:30am (local time) in Frankfurt, Germany.
My airport experience from Toronto was pretty smooth-sailing. From the time we arrived to the time I sat down at the gate was only about 45-minutes, so I was definitely a happy camper. I must also add that I was chosen as a lucky victim of the infamous pat-down or full-body scanner – the ones that caused quite the controversy not too long ago – but honestly that didn’t really matter to me. I really don’t see the huge kerfuffle behind all the controversy. For the record, I chose the full-body scan – strictly personal preference. It took literally all of thirty seconds; it was painless, and no fuss at all. If anything, I’m thankful for the extra security whilst in the air. But, that’s a totally different blog post.
11:03pm EST, Saturday, March 10, 2012
According to the television in front of me, I am currently in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. After this long day, I’m thankful for three things: Wi-Fi, power outlets, and Starbucks. I’m going to be completely honest – patience is not something I have a lot of – so from the three hours at the Toronto airport, one-and-a-half in Charlotte, not to mention the eight hour Trans-Atlantic flight from Charlotte to Frankfurt, I’m definitely running low on energy.
Now, I think most of us would know that aircrafts aren’t the most comfortable aspect of traveling. As I have not been to Europe before, I’ve spent the day thinking about what my upcoming experience would be like – admittedly in an attempt to take focus off my aching back in these uncomfortable seats. The “techie” in me downloaded a range of offline apps to keep me entertained whilst in the air – like the Paris ‘Fotopedia’ app – and the thrill suddenly rushes back in as I anticipate the next few days to come.
Upon arrival, we’ll be checking into our hotel, and the journey will officially begin. Expect future posts to be more about the places and landmarks – versus my personal online diary – and stay tuned as I’ll be posting additional blogs in the coming days with exciting photos, anecdotes, and other fun stuff. I now have five hours to arrival in Frankfurt at 10:50am local time, so I’m going to try to catch some shut-eye time.