Well I said in my last post that I would blog about Frankfurt Hahn, so here it is

-yawn-

That mostly sums it up!

First thing to be aware of is that Frankfurt Hahn is not in, or even really near, Frankfurt, but is about 75 miles away (about the same distance as Southampton Airport is from London) in, well pretty much the middle of nowhere! It’s actually as close to Luxembourg as to Frankfurt. It is not in close proximity to any railway stations, but there is a large array of bus services and car hire options. It also has parking for about 8 million cars based on what we observed. There were about 8 parked the night we flew out…

The airport used to be a military base, used by the US air force. I can’t be bothered with more history, take a look here if you really care. My point in this is that it explains the location! Hahn is primarily a base for Ryanair‘s flights to Frankfurt, with a couple of other budget airlines and a smattering of cargo flights.

Anyway, tip number 1. If travelling to Frankfurt, look at Terravision‘s bus services, not just at the Bohr service advertised on the airport website. They were way cheaper for us than Bohr, especially as the latter would have charged full fare for the kids. We nearly didn’t use them, as we didn’t find them when searching online, and the staff on the plane didn’t appear to know much about them, despite the fact they were trying to sell tickets for them. However the helpful (if slightly pushy) rep who pounced on us as we got off the plane convinced us. The downside is that the bus takes you into the suburbs, but the underground train into the city only took a few minutes, and cost 2 Euro single or 8.40 for an all day ticket for 5 people. Terravision staff even helped us with buying tickets from the machine! The bus was more comfy than my recent National Express experience too.

Tip number 2. Prepare for boredom at the airport, and don’t go airside too early! We made the mistake of going through security straight away, thinking airside facilities would match landside ones. We didn’t see much of what was available on the land side, but I know they at least had a cash machine! Past security there was no sign of an atm, and the small shop closed about 10. The seats were classic airport plastic yuck, and even the cafes didn’t look very comfortable.

We got back a couple of days ago from a lightening trip to Frankfurt. It was borne out of Ryanair’s 1p flight deal, discovered thanks to the most excellent Martin Lewis and his splendid Moneysavingexpert.com website. When I say 1p, that was it. One solitary penny per person each way (inc. taxes). So 7 of us travelled from London Stansted to Frankfurt Hahn for 14p. Unfortunately it cost us £55 to get across the Solent….

This was my first visit to Germany, and comments on line had left me uninspired about the idea of visiting Frankfurt. Overall I was pleasantly surprised. We found a clean city, a very friendly welcome, and a huge Christmas market (which was the main reason for our visit).

So, some vague ramblings about some of my observations. I’ll talk about the airport in a separate post, including our top transport tips!

The transfer from the airport left us at an S-Bahn station, where we needed a little help with the ticket machine to get the best tickets, but we ended up with an all day ticket for 5 people for just €8.40 and a single trip ticket for just €2. The trains were fast, clean, on time and the information provision was pretty good.

We stayed in the Hotel Europa (booked via Hostelworld.com), which was carefully selected as it appeared to be the cheapest habitable hotel with the right configuration of rooms. For a triple and a twin room we paid around £80 for the night including breakfast. £16 per person is pretty good in my book. The rooms were small but clean and comfortable, the hotel was a bit noisy but we were prepared for that based on online reviews (like this and this), but the staff were fantastic; helpful, laid back and friendly. Breakfast was simple but good and plentiful. Really can’t quibble for the money. Oh, and it’s 3 minutes walk from the Hauptbahnhof (main station).

I won’t bore you with all the details of the trip, but a few things stood out:

This beautiful (cough!) sculpture really is as dominant as it looks in the picture. I guess the people of Frankfurt are proud of their place at the centre of the European banking system. Unfortunately this appears to be what happens when you let bankers commission art. The towers in the background are interesting too. I had presumed that Frankfurt’s “skyscrapers” would all be in a group together in the city centre, but they are actually quite spread out. I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing…

Now this was a better attempt IMHO. This guy is pretty big, and he moves. I think the scale is just right for the space, and I actually got left behind because I kept wandering round this sculpture looking at it from different angles, where the size seems to magically change. The picture below shows how small it appears when viewed with the tower behind (sorry, didn’t notice what the building was, but it was tall!).

When taking these we were on our way to Senckenberg, the natural history museum in Frankfurt. As with most museums it had its good and bad points, but what really stood out was the Cafe. In the UK we pay high prices for awful canteen food in many museums. The Bistro in here was not particularly cheap, but the food was good (mmmmm cakes) and you could even get a beer….I wonder if the Natural History Museum in London serves alcohol…. It also looked very attractive. So all you OK museum curators – it can be done!

Heading back for the Christmas market we forced certain members of our party to walk rather than catching the underground. I’m glad we did, because we meandered along some interesting residential streets. They aren’t going to get in the guide books, but I think this is an important part of visiting a new city. I also saw lots of evidence of simple cycle provision, like residential streets which were one way for cars and two way for bikes. This was the norm it appeared, as it is in the Netherlands. Take note UK traffic planners!!!

If you have been reading our earlier posts, you will have gathered we have recently been the Frankfurt. At the airport (Stansted, not Frankfurt Hahn) and in the city Jonathan became very excited by the escalators. So much so that his namesake (his aunt’s partner – Common law uncle?) had to take him on an extra ride (down and back again) when an escalator was spotted dissaperaing to the underground station from Frankfurt’s main shopping centre. Makes me wonder if the sheltered upbringing on the sleepy IOW is starting to show….

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Warning: Keep Glühwein out of reach of children (and their aunts) if you do not heed this warning, you may find this to be the result:

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We’ve just come back from Frankfurt (Germany) where we went to go and see the Christmas market! We got really cheap flights of 1p!!!! The market was amazing. There were all sorts of yummy foods! We went for the, a little bit of everything approach!! There was a very, very, very big Christmas tree in the centre of the market.

As well as the good food and stalls there were also some very tacky stalls one of which sold a gherkin tree decoration. we were very tempted but decided against it! =D We also found a talking reindeer head!


Mum was hoping it would snow, we all told her it wouldn’t but she refused to believe us.
And no it didn’t snow but it was extremely cold! J wasn’t very impressed when I stole his funky dinosaur hat.

We had a great trip, food was good, stalls tacky, hotel nice, air VERY cold!!