DAY 1 – Frankfurt, April 19th
After spending a 24 hour delay, I was finally on my way to Frankfurt being rebooked with United (I know there is some stigma due to that one event with United but honestly, but it was a great experience flying with them) instead, which was nothing short of a miracle. Why? My original flight was supposed to arrive the 18th, which would allow me to make it to an important meeting with the United States Consulate the 19th in the morning. With the original delayed flight I would be arriving the 19th at noontime, but my appointment was at 10. By the grace of powers beyond my own, my rebooked flight allowed me to arrive at 7 that morning which gave me more than enough time to get to my appointment after checking in to my hostel and learning to navigate the complex intertwining train system of the city.
The central station, or Hauptbanhof,
was fantastic and busy. I met up with an old friend there and we went to the US Consulate so that I could have my visa sticker renewed. I returned to the Hauptbanhof after my meeting with the US Consulate to have lunch and buy a different ticket because the day ticket I bought was for the 20th not for the 19th. I tried the infamous Currywurst for a light lunch.
What is currywurst? To you, my fellow Americans and Filipinos, it is simply a sausage (wurst (“voorst”, in German) covered in a special type of ketchup and curry powder, thus, the “curry” in “currywurst”.
I liked it, to say the least. But apparently the best kinds of currywurst are to be found in Berlin, a city I will be gracing with my presence in two weeks. I will give you a better verdict after I try it there.
I strolled around the city, moving my way from the Hauptbanhof to the Altstadt area, or the “Old City” in English. I was too tired to take too many pictures but it was a bit of fun finding my way using a traditional map (because my roaming hadn’t kicked in yet).
I went back to my hostel a bit early because I got very tired, having only slept through half of my 7 hour flight. That night I had this thing called a Flammkuchen,
which is basically the German version of a pizza but my gosh it was delicious. It’s basically a thin crust dough covered in a kind of cheese (no sauce), meat and veggies. Mine was a classic bacon and onion one. That was for dinner. I was planning to save the other half for breakfast but it was too delicious not to eat in one sitting, plus the crust was so thin it wasn’t filling enough just to eat half of it.
I stayed at Meininger Hostel by the Frankfurt airport. It was a wonderful hostel: clean and well kept. The staff was great too. They let me fumble with my German and responded with patience.
The rest of the night was spent chatting with this girl named Heather from Texas. Like me, she was solo backpacking around Europe, but unlike me she had been doing it for years now. She is a bit younger than me but she has already seen a lot of the world. She spends most of her time traveling. Her next stop after Germany is New Zealand for a few months. She was very friendly and fun to talk to but both of us went to bed rather early, probably to the dismay of our other hostel mates who came in rather late, fumbling in the darkness as I tried to sleep.
DAY 2 – April 20th
I spent much of the morning just chatting it up with my fellow hostel mates in the room before taking the bus to Giessen, my second stop, and home to a friend of my aunt’s. Other than Heather, there were two Portuguese girls whose names I never got, a Korean who didn’t really feel like talking much, and this really cool guy from Berlin who was in Frankfurt for a few days taking videos of airplane landings and departures.
I spent the latter half of the day waiting for my bus to arrive. As is my luck with most things (a 24 hour delayed flight being one of them), my bus was 40 minutes late. But hey, it got there and I didn’t have to wait 24 hours to get to Giessen.
Giessen is this tiny town north of Frankfurt but I definitely love the feel of it. Here I met with Tony Ibarra and his wife Sarah, where I will be staying until I leave for Stuttgart in a few days. They are friends of my aunt and hosted them while her family was here. It’s great being with other Filipinos because there’s always a sense of family when you’re around them.
I went to bed early too because the waiting for the bus somehow tired me…maybe it’s the jet lag? I don’t know.
Day 3 – Heidelberg, April 21st
Today I took a visit to Heidelberg. There is a university here that I want to attend for grad school. Heidelberg is also home to the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics, one of my dream places to work at. Today definitely solidified my decision to go try to get into the university as well as live in Germany. Heidelberg was nothing short of beautiful. This one single place sold to me the idea of moving to Germany in the near future.
The first stop of my trip here was to Schloss Heidelberg (Schloss is the German word for castle or palace).
It was remarkable. The entire time I was at the castle I couldn’t shake off this sense of awe and wonder, especially considering how people used to live there. I’m really into history and just the thought that that building has stood since the medieval period was nothing short of amazing to me.
After the palace I just wandered around the town, visiting the Altstadt. There I visited the old cathedral, the Church of the Holy Spirit,
and had Pfefferschnitzel for lunch (it’s basically schnitzel, which is a thin, breaded and fried piece of meat with a pepper sauce) and just strolled around after, people watching and so on. I am in love with the narrow streets filled with shops and restaurants and people – it seems to be a feature in many European cities and something I wish the United States had more of. But, it is part of the charm of Europe I suppose.
After that I just went home. Got a bit tired, but luckily Heidelberg is not too far away from Giessen.