In short, Singapore is everything we could desire, and I may consider myself most fortunate in the selection; it will soon rise into importance, and with this single station alone, I would undertake to counteract all the plans of Mynheer. – Sir Stamford Raffles, 1819
This project is simple: to take inventory of the art of travel. As an academic by training, I am trained to take inventory and obsess about ideas. And while I’ve managed quite well to pursue my intellectual love for the arts, history, and literature, these pursuits have often come at the expense of doing anything meaningful with my love of travel (in all its forms).
Recently, however, my path has veered away from the classroom and has created a rare opportunity for me to pursue travel curation. What is “travel curation,” you might ask? Culling content from around the web, #wanderlust brings you exciting developments in the world of travel, with moments of original content peeping in on occasion. A lot of travel blogs repeat the same old, same old travel deals, credit card points/miles opportunities, and what not. Rather than rehash these stories with my own spin, I say why not curate them into a single meaningful post everyday? Yet, as a world traveler myself, I am fortunate to see and experience the joys of travel, so you’ll read some travel writing too. If you check out the archive of #wanderlust, you’ll find original content from a previous travel blog that I ran and will get a bit of sense of my likes and dislikes. Whether from my home office or atop a mountain 5,000 miles away … or, better yet, a cocktail lounge someone where in Berlin (more my speed), #wanderlust offers you a carefully curated selection of travel writing and photography. As you will discover, the challenge from getting from Point A to Point B is not so much a challenge. Passionate travelers will get to their destinations no matter what – believe me.
My philosophy of travel is this: I am a believer that good, meaningful travel doesn’t have to break the bank, nor does one necessarily have to compromise their aspirational standards of travel when one travels “on a budget.” I’ve traveled extensively throughout the world and have managed to do so with some style while on some very tight budgets. One of the keys to successful travel planning is perseverance. I like to think that a deal is often always around the corner; you just need to know where to look. Hopefully, #wanderlust can inspire and help.
I am excited to have you as my readers and hope that wanderlust strikes you often and always.
Our train pulled into Frankfurt rather late, but luckily we had booked a hotel close to the station. We got a really great deal booking early on the Intercontinental Hotel Group’s Web site – parent company of the Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express. I was also happy that I would be getting Priority Rewards points for the stay. We booked a night at the Holiday Inn Express Frankfurt City Hauptbanhof, about a 3 blocks away from the train station (Elbestraße 7). Hardly anyone was out at the late hour when we arrived. Walking up Kaiserstraße, you’ll notice immediately the Starbucks on the right-hand side (free Wi-Fi).
Check-in at the hotel was very quick. As a Priority Rewards member, I got a really nice letter from the receptionist from the hotel manager greeting me to the hotel. The letter also informed me that I could request a late check-out at 2pm, which I did. Also, my room was on the top floor, facing Elbestraße. To access the hotel’s free Wi-Fi, you will need to get the username and password from the receptionist.
The room itself was lovely, with a refreshing contemporary aesthetic and a color scheme that worked. Many times when requesting a double bed in Europe, the rooms will have two twin beds pushed together to make one bed. The bed at the hotel was in fact just one bed (I would say, a little smaller than a King bed), which was nice. The flat-screen TV was a descent size. I wished the bathroom had a bathtub.
It started to snow the following morning, which added a lovely touch to the historic facades of the buildings across the street. For lunch we walked down towards the Starbucks on Kaiserstraße. Very close to the Starbucks I had spotted a Vietnamese restaurant on our walk to the hotel the night before.
For whatever reason, the though of having Pho (Vietnamese noodle soup with slices of beef) sounded really good to me, especially on the cold and snowy day we were having. Unfortunately, I failed to jot down the name of the Vietnamese restaurant (bad Jan!), but you can’t miss it walking up Kaiserstraße from the train station. The Pho that I ordered hit the spot! So yummy and affordable!
For a hotel close enough to the train station, I would recommend the Holiday Inn Express. We did not have breakfast since I snoozed a bit too long while Andreas went out to do his personal business in the city. Breakfast was not included in my rate, and it would have run a little over 10 euros. I liked the affordability of the hotel along with how new and modern our room felt. Plus, it was a great way to collect Priority Reward points!
The Wall Street Journal has a nifty scorecard of U.S. airline carriers. Alaska Airlines (my airlines of choice) ranked first, while American Airlines ranked last. I actually find the bottom three airlines on the scorecard rather telling.
(click on graphic to read the complete article from the WSJ)
From Berlin we had to get to Frankfurt for a couple of personal engagements. Most travelers like me know Frankfurt because of its major international airport and have probably never ventured to the city center. As a German, Andreas didn’t really think much of the city, so we didn’t have anything really planned for our overnight stay, except for an Egyptian exhibition (more on that later) that we had bought tickets to. We bought our ICE (Intercity Express) train tickets a few weeks before we had left for Germany on the Deutsche Bahn (DB) Web site. I learned from Andreas that if you purchased your tickets in advance, you can get significant discounts on the various DB-run trains. Our tickets were discounted about 50% because we bought them early.
I was surprised by how empty our car was!
I absolutely love train travel, so I was excited to be taking the train to Frankfurt. First class on an ICE train gives you ample leg room space and aisle space because of the 1 seat, aisle, 2 seats configuration. Though I wished the seat reclined back more. In first class, there is a train attendent that passes through for food and drink orders. Also on select ICE trains, you can even pay for Wi-Fi service. The ICE train stops less frequently than the other train options, so our trip to Frankfurt felt extremely fast.
A train car behind first class was the cafe car, where we had a really nice dinner and refreshments. Our train ride to Frankfurt would be one of many train rides we would be taking on our German holidays.
A trip to Berlin is not complete without a visit to the Holocaust Memorial otherwise known as Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas (Cora-Berliner-Strasse 1, a short walk from Potsdamer Platz U-Bahn station). There is an underground “Place of Information” where the names of all the Jewish people killed are listed. Unfortunately for us, it was closed the Monday we visited.
Andreas and I roamed around the 2,711 slabs or stelae for awhile. There are usually lights that light up on the ground, but they were not on while we were there. I found walking through the maze of stelae that ranged in height from very short to taller than me incredibly moving and at times disorienting.