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August 26, 2009

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WHERE'S JOHNNY JET?                    Sheraton Frankfurt

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I was stoked to learn that the train was making a stop at the airport before ending up downtown. I thought for sure I was going to need to take either a local train or a taxi to get to the airport so when we arrived at the Frankfurt International Airport, it couldn't have been any sweeter. Since I arrived earlier than expected, and it was so easy to get to the hotel, it was almost too good to be true. Right outside the train doors were free luggage carts. TIP: Use antibacterial wipes to take all the germs off the handle and use another fresh one to wipe down your hotel room remotes, handles and switches. An elevator was 10 feet away so I took it up to the departures level. From there, I asked one of the many "Help Me" airport workers to point me in the direction of the Sheraton Hotel. The young woman, who spoke better English than me (not that difficult), said it was right down the hall to the left. It turned out to be a 100-yard walk before I found myself in the lobby.

There was no line to check in and the receptionist wasn't that friendly at first but she warmed up after I buttered her up. It wasn't that difficult. I just smiled, asked her how her day was going and was nice. I later learned that Americans are their number one client, followed by the British and the Germans. In fact, I saw a lot of Americans and not just businessmen in the elevator and lobby -- most of them had families, but I'm sure that will change once school starts up again. The average length of a stay here is just one night – just like my stay.

The hotel is huge! It has 1,008 guest rooms, 60 banquet rooms, a couple of bars and two good looking restaurants – one serving typical German specialties in a rustic, cozy atmosphere called the Taverne and the other, your usual international culinary fare. My room was pretty much perfect since it was clean and had everything I needed including a bed and sheets that were so cozy I just wanted to relax and watch TV on the big flat screen plasma TV. But I had a ton of emails to tend to, so I got up and logged on to their expensive Internet (8 euros for one hour or 18 euros for 24 hours), sitting at the stylish and comfortable desk. My view was of the new Hilton being built next door so it wasn't pretty but there was a tiny peephole to see the buildings of Frankfurt City Center, which was 7.5 miles (12.0 km) away. Watching the sun set and rise over them was remarkable.

The room windows were double-paned thick glass, built solid so you couldn't hear any outside noise. Other hotel amenities include a business center, small spa, large workout facility, neither of which I was able to visit. Restricted rates begin at 150 euros a night. Sheraton Frankfurt Hotel & Towers, Conference Center, Hugo-Eckener-Ring 15, Rhein Main Airport, Frankfurt, Germany, Tel: 49-69-69770.

I almost stayed in my room to work and rest but I received a Facebook message from a friend saying, "I hope you're not just going to stay in your room all night." I realized she was right and that I needed to rally and make a quick trip to downtown and explore. After all, I hadn't been there in 11 years. I was glad I did because it couldn't have been any easier to get there. There's a train station below the airport and trains were departing every 20 minutes for the 15-minute ride. FYI: It costs 3.70 euros and you can buy your ticket from a machine before getting on. They don't sell them on the train and no one checked them but if they do and you don't have one, you'll get an on-the-spot fine.

Without a doubt, I'm going to need to come back and do a whole story on Frankfurt because there's so much to see. Without going into any real detail, most of Frankfurt was destroyed in WWII. Today, it's a huge financial city. It has the world's third-largest stock and foreign exchange market. The skyline has definitely changed since the last time I was here, particularly with the impressive Commerzbank, which is now the tallest (260 meters/850 feet) building in Europe. When I arrived, I just walked straight out of the train station and followed the non-sketchy crowd. I don't know what it is about train stations but around the world (including in the U.S.), they always seem to attract a scary mélange of either homeless or drunks. Here too.

I walked a lot without a map or any particular destination in mind. The highlight was stumbling upon a street fair, followed by Zeil Street, which is Frankfurt's most popular shopping area with a bunch of modern buildings including Galeria Kaufhof (a huge mall). Seeing them juxtaposed against a backdrop of historic buildings and churches is really something. Also memorable were the wild rabbits just grazing the grass as pedestrians walked by. The memories started flowing when I reached Römerplatz, a large square in the touristy part of town that has half-timbered buildings, which are true copies of the originals.

I remembered coming here with my mom in 1998 and then taking the short walk, which I did again, to the Main River. The area is called Museumsufer, which translates to the Museum Embankment since there are so many museums along there. There are also restaurants and cafes. I walked and walked, crisscrossing the same pedestrian bridges my mom and I did a decade ago. It really made me miss her.

On the way back, I asked a well-dressed woman which way the train station was and she started giving me directions but when she realized it was a little confusing and I wasn't a freak, she said, "Actually, that's where I'm going so you can walk with me." We had a nice chat learning about each other's lives on the 20-minute jaunt. It's moments like this that, for me, represent the best part of travel.

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Pictures From

The Trip


Frankfurt Airport


Sheraton Airport Hotel


My Room


My Comfy Bed


My Bathroom


Sheraton From The Airport


Nutella in a Vending Machine


Train to Downtown


Frankfurt Train Station


I Thought He Was Live




What A Contrast




Touristy Area


Main River


Beautiful View


Pedestrian Bridge


Outdoor Cafes


Rent A Boat



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