Frankfurt is the business and financial center of Germany... The city is known for its futuristic skyline and the biggest German airport. Located on the river Main, Frankfurt is the financial capital of Continental Europe and the transportation centre of Germany. Frankfurt is home of the European Central Bank and the German Stock Exchange.
After spending a week in Switzerland, I took a high speed train from Zurich back to Frankfurt (with a change over in Basel). This time I was actually going to spend a couple of days here and was going to couchsurf with Chris, whom I helped with some info during his layover in Kiev a few weeks before. I picked up a two-day transportation pass at the tourist info center, grabbed some Chinese takeout at the main train station and after a short ride on the U was at Chris'. We hit it off pretty well right away, sharing our experiences traveling in Switzerland and eastern Europe, checking out Chris' pictures of climbing a mountain in Switzerland while being surrounded in clouds, and swapping our skydiving videos.
The next day we were up at 6 as Chris had to be at work early. As we left, I took the U back to the main train station hoping to get some breakfast there while waiting for a Regus office to open so I can jump on the Internet and plan my next part of the trip in Africa as well as look up some things to do in Frankfurt. After spending a week in Switzerland, I could not shake off the feeling that Frankfurt was very cheap! 1.90 euro for an expresso versus 5 franks? Make it a double! Another random observation I made while sitting at the train station and taking advantage of the free Starbucks WiFi - even beggars spoke good English in Frankfurt.
Once 8am hit, I got on my way to the Regus office located at the Messeturm in the heart of financial district. It was a bit confusing and frustrating getting to it from the U station of the same name, but I have finally made it up to the 25th floor and settled into a standard business lounge just to find out that their WiFi did not work with Macs or iPhones for some reason. Luckily, there was another Regus office in a tower next to Messeturm so I walked over there and spend the next few hours working on my South African itinerary. Their facilities were not as nice - the business lounge was just two chairs and a computer terminal at the reception area, but they made up for it with good selection of free coffee beverages (hot chocolate with a double shot espresso, anyone?).
Eventually, my stomach would not take another shot of espresso as an excuse for lunch so I left and walked down Dusseldorferstrasse, past the train station, to the Main riverfront. Even after all the espresso shots, I felt pretty tired, so I got a little nap on one of the benches along the riverwalk before continuing my journey past the few of the bridges, then crossed the river via the Eiserner Steg and came back via Alte Brücke to head back into the historic city center. The view from Alte Brücke was pretty interesting - the old buildings contrasting the skyscrapers of the financial center in the background.
I walked past Frankfurter Dom cathedral to the Römer square - the central part of old town. It was very nice and colorful but there was not much else to do so I walked around a bit more looking for some WiFi and found a Starbucks across the road. Soon it started raining so I got inside and spend another hour or so there doing more research on things to do in South Africa and killing time until I needed to head back to Chris'.
We went out to his favorite restaurant where we were joined by Chris' girlfriend and a couple of friends - Tony and Christof. It turned out that Tony has spent a good amount of time in South Africa so he gave me a few more pointers on things to do there and was going to hook me up with some of his friends down there. He was also heading out to Singapore in hopes of getting a job there so we will probably cross our paths there as well. On the other hand, Christof has been planning a trip to New Zealand with some of his friends right around the time I will be there so we may also meet up in the Kiwi-land. All thanks to the few minutes I spent looking up some info for Chris when he posted a question to the couchsurfing group in Kiev. Amazing how it works!
After dinner, we walked around the mall area, but everything was closed by then. I did get to see the weird wormhole-like construction above the main entrance, so that was pretty cool. Back at Chris' place, I packed up all my stuff as we were once again to leave early in the morning. While packing, I decided to get rid of few more clothes so a muscle shirt, a pair of socks and underwear, and a few more miscellaneous things were left behind.
I repeated my morning routine the next day - got some breakfast at the train station while taking advantage of Starbucks' free WiFi. It was getting really cold thou so I could not wait for 8 o'clock to roll around. This time I went to the closest Regus office located at the Skyper Villa - an old (1913) historic building combined with a 154 meter tall office tower in the heart of banking district. They just had a couple of pods set up in the lobby so I did not like it very much as people keept going back and forth and the alarm kept going off on one of the doors for better part of the morning. They did have a decent hot drink selection at the break room though and I found probably the cheapest bakery yet just a few minutes walk away from there on Kaiserstraße.
While there, I have finally gotten the confirmation for my safari trip in South Africa (less than two days away), caught up with my parents via Skype, and then headed out to meet with Mark - a fellow aviation geek. Meeting up by itself was an adventure - since I did not have a phone on me, we agreed to meet at the underground McDonalds at Hauptwache square. For some reason, it did not register for me and I got into my head that it is at the Konstablerwache square so I actually walked to Hauptwache, then walked around to figure out where to catch a U train to Konstablerwache, got to Konstablerwache, walked around underground trying to find the McD's, went up and found on on the plaza, waited there for a while, then finally recognized my mistake, went back down, took the U back to Hauptwache, then walked all over the place there trying to find the McDonalds that I saw previously. Whew! Fortunately, Marc was still patiently waiting for me at the entrance.
We grabbed some late lunch, swung by the train station so I could get my backpack from the storage locker, and headed out to the plane observation area at the airport. We spent a good couple of hours there watching everything from RJs to an A380 arrive and depart. A couple highlights included the line up of all three Lufthansa biggies - the A340, the A380, and the B747 waiting for takeoff as well as the arrival of the French Air Force A330, followed by a Falcon jet bringing French president Nikolas Sarkozy. It was getting pretty cold but we decided to wait until my South African A340 gets towed from the parking stand to the terminal as the taxiway was right in front of us. After what seemed like eternity, and after we were pretty much frozen up, it finally made its way around and we quickly retreated. The butt warmers in Marc's car never felt so good for the brief period that it took us to make it around the airport to the terminal.
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