LETS BE FRANK ABOUT FRANKFURT by Ron Kapon

Before you consider visiting Frankfurt, population about 650,000, with US visitors only outnumbered by Germans (www.frankfurt-tourismus.de ) you had best check to see if one of the myriad of trade fairs is scheduled during your visit as Frankfurt is the European financial capitol. The accommodating folks at the German National Tourist Office in NYC (www.cometogermany.com ) booked my first nights at the charming Villa Orange Hotel (www.villa-orange.de ) located a few blocks from the center of Old Frankfurt City. But they had trouble finding me a room for the end of my German odyssey since the Table Top trade fair was scheduled at that time. I had an early flight to Warsaw and wanted to stay at the airport so I could return my rental car the night before. I assumed (wrongly) that all the attendees would want to be in the city center, near the fair grounds. The tourist office finally confirmed, through her counterpart in Frankfurt, a room near the airport. There was an unfortunate mix up and delightfully the accommodating folks at the Villa Orange called all around to find me a room, although it was twice the price of my original quote. The Frankfurt Tourist Office was kind enough to pay half the cost of the new room although the mix-up was not their fault. My problem is with Holiday Inn Express which doubled the room price because of the fair, plus charged me $7.50 for a van ride 10 minutes to the airport. A big boo to HIE for sending the van on its way as I sat in the lobby sipping my coffee. Of course, I had reminded them not to have the van leave without me. I insisted they call a cab and pay for it; they did. All’s well that ends well.

I like to travel during breaks in my teaching schedule at the International School of Hospitality & Tourism Management at Fairleigh Dickinson University. Last year it was France; this year Germany and Poland. Researching the internet for fares between New York and Frankfurt I found a $399 price on http://www.delta.com . The non-stop service was fairly new and I immediately booked my ticket before the price increased. Having spoken with Delta’s corporate headquarters on another matter dealing with a former talk show host turned journalist I landed at the desk of Greg—–. I am leaving out his last name to save him from a deluge of calls. We spoke and e-mailed several times and to my delight his boss Okayed my upgrade to Business Elite based on space available (there was no first class on my 767-300 aircraft). Flight #108 was flawless thanks to veteran attendant Valerie Watson who spent many years with Pan Am (May they rest in peace) and has been delighting Delta passengers for 12 years. Her charm, professionalism and British accent made the flight a fabulous experience. Kudos to Ken Chase the wine consultant for Delta as he selected several intriguing wine choices that matched perfectly with my cooked to order dinner. Bravo Delta! An e-mail to Greg the day before my return flight and I was once again upgraded to Business Elite. Having a four hour layover in Frankfurt the Delta lounge allowed me to shower, use their locker, rest, shop and eat.
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Frankfurt airport (www.frankfurt-airport.com ) is the largest in Europe with train service into the center of town. The city is not classically beautiful, but does have Western Europe’s tallest building, the Commerzbank Tower, with a breathtaking view of the city from its observation deck. Old Frankfurt, with its half-timbered houses, is interspersed with narrow cobblestone alleys radiating from the historic center the Romerberg toward St. Bartholomew’s Cathedral. The Romer (city hall) was open to the public the day I visited highlighting exhibits dealing with the history of Frankfurt. If you have time ask about the Kleinmarkethalle, where you will find food items from around the world.
Before the holocaust, Frankfurt had Germany’s second largest Jewish community. The Judengasse Museum (www.judengasse.de ) is built over the ruins of the old Jewish Ghetto. The cemetery next door remained untouched during World War II because Heinrich Himmler, when visiting the cemetery, said to the assembled officials “very interesting” (think Arte Johnson on Laugh In). These words frightened the locals and kept them from destroying it. However, most of the city center and old town were destroyed by Allied air strikes. Anne Frank and the Rothschild’s (banking & wine) were born here and you can visit the Rothschild’s former palace now known as the Judisches Museum. It was also the home of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Germany’s Shakespeare, which has been turned into a museum of his life and works (www.goethehaus-frankfurt.de ). Cross over the Main River to “Museum Mile” on the banks of the river whose 7 major museums include the Staedel Art Museum and the German Film Museum. The Main River ( Germany’s sixth largest ) is served by many riverboats where you can have lunch and look up at “Mainhattan.” Try the local beverage- Apple Wine (Ebbewai) along the main pedestrian promenade Fressgrass with its restaurants, cafes and specialty shops. The Zeil has many of the popular department stores along its promenade.
If you are not going to Frankfurt for business, two days is plenty of time to rest from your jet lag. See the city and get ready for the rest of your German adventure.
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During my return flight I had a conversation with a nearby passenger who, when he found out I was a travel writer, asked Frankfurt, Germanyme about hotels and what I liked and disliked. Here are my top hotel peeves; none of which happened during my German stay. If the toilet paper fits, use it. 1- Not enough wattage in the bathroom, by the desk and work areas. Skip the 25 watt bulbs. 2- Showers with little or no pizzazz and those spray heads that are removable but with no place to put them for a steady flow. 3- Plastic glasses that crack at will and can not stand on its own if you put a toothbrush and toothpaste in them. 4- I want to hang my clothes up on arrival. I hate those non-removable or no hook ended hangers. I bring extras just in case. 5- Heat or air conditioning controls with a mind of their own, or requiring an engineering degree to figure how they work. 6- No listing of available TV channels. I don’t want to move through channel by channel looking for CNN or sports programming. 7- Too small towels or no wash cloth, plus soap so tiny they crack in lots of parts on the first use. 8- Pillows that have not been filled in 10 years and are almost flat. Try reading with one propped against the headboard or wall.