Guten Tag! We have arrived in Germany! We flew on United from Seattle to Chicago and then from Chicago to Frankfurt with only a small burp along the way. When we landed in Chicago, we received a notification from United that our flight was being delayed and that we were being moved to a different plane. No problem, except that since the plane was a different configuration, our seats had been changed. We booked really early and scored excellent seats – two side by side (rather than 3) in the very front of the premium economy section. When they rebooked us, they moved us back 7 rows and moved Clayton into the dreaded middle seat. For a guy with broad shoulders, this was not a great spot.
We decided to talk to the gate agent to see if we could improve our seating. Silly us – everyone on that flight was unhappy with their new seats so the line was long and slow. So, we headed to the customer service desk – the line was equally long and slow but we decided to at least use the kiosk to print our new boarding passes while we waited. While I waited in line, Clayton checked the departure board and found that the airline had moved our flight back to its original departure time without notifying us. While we were standing in line for customer service, boarding had already begun. Good thing he checked – if we had continued to wait in line, we would’ve missed our flight! But, we didn’t and the flight was relatively calm. Come to find out, we were still at the front of the premium economy section; the seat map was completely inaccurate. We were indeed seated on the aisle and middle seats, but no one was in the window seat. Score! Unfortunately, we were seated across from a screaming infant and the unfortunate young man seated by the family requested being moved. Clayton offered him the middle seat.
The flight was a bit bumpy initially, but smoothed out after an hour or two. Were it not for the screaming children (stereo!), we would’ve arrived in Frankfurt a bit more rested. After deplaning, we headed for immigration. We were processed very quickly and headed out. Too bad we headed out the wrong door! Somehow, we ended up in the security check-in area rather than on the path to claiming our baggage. We were able to find a helpful employee of the German equivalent of the TSA who led us back to where we belonged. Even with that mishap, we ended up waiting for over an hour for the suitcases to show up. Do you ever wonder how suitcases that are checked in together end up separated? Me, too! Clayton’s bag showed up about 10 minutes after mine did. But, at least it showed up!
The first thing on our agenda was to get our Eurail Pass validated. Actually, the first thing was to grab a quick lunch. Hungry and tired is a terrible combination; we could at least eliminate one of the two! After lunch, we found the DB (Deutsch Bahn) customer service office and joined the queue. Soon, validated passes in hand, we were ready to take the S-Bahn in to the main train station in Frankfurt, the Hauptbahnhof (HBF). HBF is what all train stations in Germany are known as. Our Eurail passes allow us to travel on any S-Bahn train within Germany so we did not need to purchase tickets to get into town. The ride in is only around 11 minutes.
The HBF in Frankfurt is enormous. Fortunately, we had looked up ahead of time which exit to take to reach our hotel. This is something we have learned from experience – train stations have multiple exits and Google Maps doesn’t always help with figuring out which is the best one. For this hotel, we were able to find the information we needed on the hotel’s website, but I have taken to emailing the hotel to ask if it is not clear. There is nothing worse than dragging around suitcases in a strange city when you are already exhausted, so the more prepared you are, the better.
We were not prepared for how hot it was in Frankfurt. Thank goodness we only had to walk across the street to get to our hotel! We arrived an hour before check-in but they were able to get us into a room immediately, which we greatly appreciated. After unpacking and settling in, we went for a stroll around the neighborhood. And, an interesting neighborhood it is! As I learned on our Hop On Hop Off bus tour the next day, one in three residents of Frankfurt is from another country. Many of the immigrants have settled around the HBF which makes for a very diverse population with lots of yummy places to eat. The red light district is also in the neighborhood so there are some seedier types that hang out in the area as well.
Our goal on our first day after traveling through multiple time zones is to stay up as long as possible. We had an early dinner and headed back up to our room. I don’t think Clayton made it past 5 or 6 pm. . .I stayed awake until 8 and was pretty proud of myself for doing so! We both slept in until 7 the next day, and were ready to take on the city.