I apologize for my tardiness getting this post up, it was a long 48 hours of traveling to make our way back to Croatia.
We flew Ryanair, a budget European airline from Venice to Frankfurt for 20 euro each. This is an incredible deal, so long as you know the small print. First thing is it costs much more to check a bag on one of these flights than the ticket costs, so flying carry-on is the only way to keep costs down. Not an issue for us as we left our large bag at the hostel in Venice and each had our carry-on bags for our flight. Secondly, the airports Ryanair uses to fly are usually much further away from the main city than the main airports. For example, from Venice the airport was a 1 hour busride, and from Frankfurt the airport was a 1 hour and 45 minute busride. The shuttle buses do cost money of course, which most other airlines say will make your expenditure equal that of a ticket with their company (which is definitely not true). We paid 10 euro to get to the airport in Venice, and 15 to get into Frankfurt from the airport. Lastly, you MUST print your boarding pass or pay 70 euro to have it printed at the airport. They close the online system 2 hours before the scheduled departure so make sure to have it done in advance. As long as you can follow those rules, your Ryanair experience will be a good one, as ours was.
We made it to Frankfurt and checked into our hostel Five Elements which was more like a hotel than a hostel, did some laundry, and enjoyed a free pasta night which was fantastic. The hostel is smack dab in the middle of the red light district, which was more interesting than of any danger. The next day we walked around a bit, then went on a free alternative walking tour. The tour was interesting as it pointed out safe needle programs going on in the city, as well as the brothels that are legal in the city. The annual revenue of the brothels is 550 million euros. The ladies pay taxes, and have regular benefits. It was a very interesting tour.
The next day we headed to the main airport to meet up with Monica. Her boyfriend, Christoph, lives in Mannheim which is about 45 minutes south of Frankfurt. We had a lovely breakfast together and then walked through Mannheim as the weather was beautiful. We stopped for a quick beer and then were joined by Christoph once he was finished work for the day. That evening we headed to a local brewery for supper and beers before hitting the hay after a long day.
The following day we headed to several neighboring towns that were very picturesque and quaint. We visited many castles and palaces along the way which were incredibly beautiful and well preserved. It was lovely to drive through the countryside, stopping every half-hour or so to get out and wander around. Being driven in a car is a luxury for us! We then found a stunning winery where we spent the afternoon sitting on the outdoor deck overlooking the vines, snuggled in blankets, drinking warm mulled wine. It was a perfect afternoon. We also purchased 2 bottles of wine which were both fantastic.
That evening Christophs roommate Luca arrived home and prepared us an italian pasta dish (as he is Italian) which was delicious. It was a carbonara pasta and for the sauce it was simply 1 raw egg per person whisked together with parmesean cheese and a splash of milk, and the hot pasta, bacon and onion was added to the egg mixture and that was it. It was so delicious and simple, and apparently the traditional way of making it.
The following day we headed to the black forest region of Germany. There was a ton of snow there (vs. No snow at all in Mannheim) and everyone was out enjoying the day on the local toboggan hill. It was very enjoyable to watch, and we had a lovely view from a local cafe where we enjoyed traditional black forest cake. We then met up with a friend at a local brewery (notice a theme here?) for beers and a snack. For 1.0 litre of beer it was $3.75 CAD. The brewery had a slide going from the first floor to the second floor which made for excellent fun.
The next day was Monday, so Christoph and his roommate headed back to work while Chris, Monica and I headed to Heidelberg. This was definitely my favorite town in Germany that we visited. It was a perfect mix of old historic buildings, typical German houses, and beautiful scenery. Unfortunately we had quite a rainy day so we spent the afternoon in a (you guessed it) brewery! Chris was able to try the strongest beer in the world by specific gravity at 33% (this is in the Guiness Book of Records). It tasted like syrup and was rather unpleasant, but it was neat to try.
The next day we relaxed as Chris and I had to head out at 2 am to catch our flight. We had a few drinks at a local bar that had a “double time” promotion in the evening with a few of Christoph’s friends, and then Chris and I stayed awake until it was time to leave. Subsequently we ended up being awake for 48 hours, but we made it back to Croatia in more or less one piece.
It was a fantastic time in Germany, we really did feel like we were at home. We can’t thank our hosts enough!
The best part for me about visiting Germany is that Chris had traveled to one more country than I, but had already been to Germany, so this side trip means we are oficially all tied up. It was worth the trip just for that.
That is all for now! Thanks for reading,