A Travellerspoint blog

And finally we are off...

Days 1, 2 and 3

7 °C
View Scandinavia on andrewmooney's travel map.

I’ve been very slow out of the gates with this blog for a couple of reasons...

Initially, on arriving in Frankfurt, jetlag proved a bit hard to overcome if I sat still for more than a few minutes, so we had to keep moving and, secondly, I've been having some trouble with my blog software and my IT support person has been less than supportive in helping me get up and running :) I've finally figured out there was a conflict of interest and we are actually in a blogging war! Those of you who aren't already reading Andrew's much more timely blogs you can find them here...

https://findpenguins.com/1chqmhkssgofs/trip/643e4d65507c49-04211983?s=8107fd52c80e9122e5583c580eabc07be32f88c5

So, after some lively persuasion, I'm now up and running...

We're now cruising south on the Baltic Sea and are on Day 4 of our 15 day Scandinavian cruise - it's the only 'sea day' of the entire cruise and the first day we've had the opportunity to relax a little since leaving Sydney over a week ago. It's been a whirlwind so far and we've definitely packed a lot into the week.

Here's a bit of an overview:

We arrived safely in Frankfurt after an uneventful flight from Sydney via Singapore. Just the usual eating more than you need to out of boredom, drinking more than you should for the same reason (and because the laws of travel state you can drink alcohol at any time of the day or night as long as you are in either a plane or an airport,) sleeping and walking airports at strange hours and, voila, you’re on the other side of the world! This always both amazes me and leaves me slightly disorientated for a couple of days.

We also managed to get quite a bit of sleep prior to landing in Frankfurt at 8am, ready to attack the day without succumbing to the temptation to ‘just lie down for a few minutes’ – we almost succeeded.

Anyway, Frankfurt was another one of those cities that wasn’t on my radar as a ‘must-see’ or even a ‘maybe one day if we have time’ destination but that, ultimately, proved to be a happy surprise. Apart from the fact that smoking is a national past-time and the language is impossible to understand, either in written or spoken form, it’s a really interesting and quite pretty city.

I hadn’t done much research on Frankfurt before leaving home, but what I did learn was that the city has a population of less than 1 million but still manages to be both the financial and logistics hub of Germany. The Old City of Frankfurt was almost completely destroyed in a WW2 bombing raid in 1944, hence the city was rebuilt and is quite modern with the exception of a dedicated area that was purposely rebuilt in the old style and does a reasonable job of looking authentically ‘old’ in parts.

A city always looks its best when the sun is shining, and we were happy to wander around pretty aimlessly for an hour or so through the cobblestone streets and the local food market. There are some unmistakably impressive landmarks, but we had zero idea what their significance is as there are no explanations or signs in English. It’s pretty arrogant to expect any non-English speaking countries to speak or provide English translations routinely, but we tend to anyway. So we booked a guided walking tour for the following morning and kept walking the inner-city streets and parklands. It feels like the city is emerging from hibernation with little wildflowers blooming in un-mowed grassland and the sunshine is gorgeous.

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Eventually, we do find our way back to the hotel for a very unadventurous drink or two and early dinner in the lobby bar.

Day 2 in Frankfurt started off cloudy and drizzly, the kind of morning where you would really just rather stay inside but, no, we’re only here for one more day, and so far, we have no real knowledge of Frankfurt other than the few facts I mentioned earlier.

We were pleased we made the effort, the tour was interesting, and the weather did finally clear a little.

The tour started in Romerberg - the city's main square which plays host to most of Frankfurt's important occasions, such as coronations and weddings, with every German wedding required to take place in a City Hall. Whilst waiting for our tour to start we witnessed one happy, newly wed couple emerging to the cheers of family, friends and anybody who happened to be in the Square at that point. We also witnessed one of the strangest things I've ever seen - a bunch of people, dressed to the nines, randomly scattered around the square speaking loudly whilst recording on their phones...maybe a TikTok conference field excursion?

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In a repeat of the previous day we visited the Old City, which was actually only completed, with the various structures all resembling different pre-war architectural styles, in the early 21st century. We also learnt about Goethe, Germany's answer to William Shakespeare, visited the St Bartholomew Cathedral…the only structure to escape relatively unscathed from WW2, due to the fact it was largely built from stone rather than the wood used to build most of the other city buildings.

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Interestingly, our guide (an American lady married to a German and living in Frankfurt) explained that WW2 is still a daily topic of conversation in Germany and there are many, many references and memorials to the impacts of that war in the streets of the city, including 'Stumbling Blocks' which are essentially plaques inset into the ground outside the last known residence of a person who died at the hands of the Nazis. Apparently, this has now become a global phenomenon with similar memorials appearing in cities worldwide.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stolperstein#:~:text=Stolpersteine%20are%20placed%20right%20into,and%20tread%20on%20the%20inscriptions.

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To balance out all the history and culture we then visited the Kleinmarkthalle (the same small market we visited the previous day). Obviously, Andrew had to try the German sausage from a stall run by an 83 year old lady who has been selling sausages from this very spot for nearly 60 years. The queue was worth it – whilst I did taste it myself, Andrew did most of the heavy lifting, eating it whilst enjoying a German Riesling in a wine bar alongside the market that let you bring your own food - a reverse BYO!

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At this stage, we’re still in a bit of a jetlag haze but manage to make it through the afternoon and dinner at a more traditional style German restaurant where we dined on schnitzel and potatoes. These Germans really do know how to eat and drink with a gusto heavy on the carbs!

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Day 3 sees us leaving Frankfurt, bound for Stockholm, but not before a morning walk through a lovely part of the city to the Botanic Gardens, the Gardens weren’t actually open at that time, but it was still a very pretty walk through streets that reminded me of Amsterdam to some extent and through a parkland full of happy dogs chasing balls and joggers working off all those carbs.

Stockholm has always been a bucket list destination for me! I’m not entirely sure why; I think it has something to do with an image I had of long, long summer days spent in pursuit of healthy outdoor activities and long, long winter days spent in front of cozy fires drinking mulled wine.

We arrived relatively late in the afternoon and didn't have the opportunity to explore too much, but my first impression was of a very beautiful city, essentially spread over 14 islands connected by 57 bridges. Due to the fact Sweden has not participated in any wars in the last 200 years, the architecture is oldish and largely very grand. To go with the beautiful buildings, the people are also impossibly attractive and stylish. Our hotel had one of the most impressive lobby bars I’ve ever had the pleasure to visit, and I have visited a few!

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We spent a couple of hours over drinks and dinner planning our next couple of days in Stockholm...

Stay tuned for the next 'episode'!

Posted by andrewmooney 07:54 Archived in Germany

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Comments

Duelling blogs! Love it! So do you each have to take your photos? That lobby bar looks amazing.

by Jacinta

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