Guys. We just got back from a two-week vacation to Europe and it was everything and more. We went to Germany, Austria and Italy and in true-to-Gabby fashion, I’ll drag recap posts out as long as I can. And really, I’m mostly writing this for myself so I can look back and remember what we did, where we ate and what we saw. I also hope this can be used as a resource because I did a ton of research ahead of our trip and blogs were the best place to find tips!
So, here we go.
Long story short: I have family friends in Germany. My dad and aunt hosted a German foreign exchange student when they were in high school and we’ve stayed in touch with him over the years. They’ve visited dozens of times, I’ve been over to visit once when I was younger… they even came in town for our wedding! I grew up calling him Uncle Uli, his wife Aunt Gaby and their son, Felix, my cousin. We’ve even gotten to know Uli’s sister and her family, including their kids who are around mine and my brother’s ages. So basically, I have a German family.
Kevin had never been to Europe so we thought it’d be fun to go over to Germany to visit the German family. We originally planned on going last September, and doing Oktoberfest, but we moved to St. Louis and bought a new house instead #priorities. Therefore, our trip got pushed back and sort of exploded into a big, two-week, three-country vacation. Not mad about it!
Planning was no joke, and I could write a whole other post on the resources we used and any tips/tricks, but it was worth every hour of Googling things like, “how to navigate public transportation in Rome.”
So, back to the recap…
We started our trip in Frankfurt and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. We flew St. Louis to Atlanta, Atlanta to Frankfurt and eventually, after 15 hours of travel, we arrived in Germany at 9 a.m. local time, Uli and Gaby picked us up from the airport and we promptly went back to their house for a nap. I know everyone says to stay awake that first day but neither Kevin or I could sleep on the nine-hour flight to Germany, and if we were to function even a little bit on our first day, a nap was necessary. After a two-hour slumber, we showered, changed and ate lunch with the fam.
Uli took us on a walk to the nearby Goetheturm (translation: Goethe Tower) to climb and check out Frankfurt’s downtown skyline. It was amazing! The climb was no joke at 43-meters high, but the view was worth it!
Little did we know what views (and stair climbing) we had in store for the rest of the trip.
After lunch and the tower climb, we ventured downtown to walk around and take in the sights. I remember a lot of the downtown area from when I was there as a kid. We went over Thanksgiving and the Christmas market was open – so, so neat!
We popped into Uli’s favorite market, and checked out the local meats, cheeses and veggies. Couldn’t leave without a glass of wine, of course! (Fun fact: we liked the wine in Germany way more than the wine in Italy. But more on that later.)
On our first evening in town, we went out to dinner with the larger family including Felix, his girlfriend Jennie and Uli’s sister and her husband, Katherine and Jurgen, to Oberschweinstiege,
We dined like traditional Germans – ate spargel (white asparagus, which was in season during our visit), spaetzle and schnitzel and of course, had some bier. OH and mispel! A traditional Frankfurt “shot,” which is brandy and mispel, a German fruit. The fruit soaks in the booze, and then you “cheers” (or, prost!) with the fruit before downing the shot. This was the first of many mispels we had this trip…
(Also, I think some of my photos got deleted – worst. thing. ever. – because I swear I took more pictures of our food in Germany, and they’ve gone missing)
The next morning, we woke up to a traditional German breakfast, complete with fresh rolls, cured deli meats, cheese, jam, nutella and very strong coffee. Our kind of breakfast!
We ventured over to Felix and Jennie’s apartment, in the young/trendy part of town (aka the Soulard of Frankfurt) to see their place before going back to Uli’s for a traditional Bavarian meal of wurst, spicy sausage and more bier. I. loved. Germany. (Again, no pictures of lunch because they disappeared and I’m real mad about it.)
If you ask Kevin was his favorite part of the trip was, he’d tell you it was seeing a real life European soccer game. We got lucky that Eintracht (Frankfurt) played when we were in town, and Uli has season tickets so we were able to go. Until we went to the game, they had lost 10 in a row. We’re good luck!
The game was pretty unreal though. The fans and atmosphere was similar to a playoff hockey game… but better. And the beer was so cheap! Four euro for a beer, whereas beer at Busch Stadium runs you more than 10 bucks these days. Germans know what’s up.
Later that evening, Uli and Gaby had a birthday party to go to, so the kids (me, Kevin, Felix and Jennie) went out to dinner and then out for biers after. We dined in Sachsenhausen at Apfelwein Wagner. Uli said when I visited as a kid, my grandpa liked trying the famous apfelwein, so he wanted us to experience it like my grandpa did. And if you’re like us and didn’t know what apfelwein is, here ya go. Basically cider! But the German version.
(Here’s where I’d insert pictures of our apfelwein in the bembel at our outdoor table sharing big long tables with fellow Germans, but no. pictures. SAD.)
I do have a picture of dinner, though! Apparently this place is not only known for its schnitzel, but also its Grüne Soße (green sauce), which is famous in Frankfurt. Both Kevin and I got it – with potatoes – and loved every bite.
Felix ordered a very traditional Frankfurt appetizer for us to try – Handkäse mit musik (hard cheese with music) – but I wasn’t a huge fan. Even his girlfriend Jennie didn’t like it, so I didn’t feel too bad.
So after stuffing ourselves silly, we walked down the street for a nightcap (or multiple) at Lokalbahnhof. I thought I was doing a really good job of learning German phrases so I tried to order our group vier biere (four beers), and the waitress responded, in English, asking if we wanted large or small. Welp, didn’t fool her.
We stayed out and up way too late because our 8 a.m. wakeup call on Sunday morning was rough. But, places to go and things to see!
And with that, I’m going to save our last day for part II of Germany.