The last few hours before departure on a long trip are quite tense – cleaning up, closing cases, locking everything, hiding keys, instructions to family, drinking the remaining juice and milk, last attention to the garden, cancelling Netflix and Ancestry, checking in on the airline site, looking at the temperature in Germany and adding some summer clothes…

And then the stress of airport departure (although this leaving at Melbourne airport was the smoothest we have had – pacemakers and CPAP machines do not even draw a glance these days) and the endless walking to finally reach the gate. 

It is still such a huge thing to trust ourselves to a machine that flies so high and fast, but when the command comes to close and arm the doors, I know we will not be getting out for a long time! I breathe deeply to control the panic that rises, and then we are up and away. 

It seems to go forever, and suddenly, we are on the other side of the world.

Lots to be thankful for: we slept well on the plane, thanks to melatonin and good timing; our luggage came to the same place as us – we followed it with air tags; we met some interesting people waiting in lines – intersections with strangers can be very enriching.

It’s so hot in Frankfurt after leaving Melbourne in 4 degrees, but shorts and sandals plunged us into summer holiday mode immediately. Our boutique hotel has everything we need with a bonus view of a church (complete with cacophonous ringing bells) and soaring skyscraper, which sums up this city. The reviews never mentioned that it also seems to be directly under the busy flight path! We were shocked to discover from a small plaque in the footpath that the building was the home of a Jewish doctor who was deported in 1942. 

We fell into jet-lagged travel routine and headed for the Hauptbahnhof station to find the hop on hop off bus, the least demanding way to spend the first day here. We only hopped off once and spent some touristy time at the iconic Romerberg square with its Justice fountain, cafes, shops, brilliant accordion buskers and St Nicholas Protestant church.

This church, the first of many I am sure we will look at, is Gothic and peaceful, one of few buildings to escape destruction in the war.  It was one of Martin Luther’s stops on his journey to Worms to defend his theses – not much sign of the Reformation these days.

Peter met the sacristan, and persuaded him to take him on a private tour up the tower for a magnificent view. The church scene in Frankfurt is dismal, especially in the minority Protestant sector, and Peter tried to encourage Karsen as they chatted. We always pray for opportunities to connect with people and have good conversations, so it was a good start on the first day.

We lit our first candle and prayed for our family far away – a little ritual that always seems meaningful when we travel. Missing them already!

In addition, we learnt that there was an Indonesian congregation using the church, which led to quite a God-incidence later that day when Peter picked up Asian food for dinner. He heard Indonesians speaking and shocked them by joining (always fun), and amazingly, they belonged to that congregation. The world can be a small place.

On a hot day, it was time to sample the local specialty – apple wine. I stuck to cider, but Peter verified that it tasted like sour apple flavoured beer and was refreshing. At least it solved our first hunt for a loo, which was nearly thirty steps down a wooden spiral staircase under the cafe bar.

St Paul’s, now the local assembly hall, looms high over the precinct, and a shaded bench near the red bus was the spot to eat our crackers and boiled egg from breakfast and airline cheese. We learnt on the bus that the city has a skyscraper policy requiring every office to have an outward window, resulting in tall, skinny buildings.

A broken zip on a backpack sent Peter on another bus trip to replace it, while I did a walk around our leafy neighbourhood. Surrounded by skyscrapers and near the main station, this little area is green and pleasant, with plenty of autumn flowers and trees just beginning to turn. I sat in a shady park and watched the stream of locals bringing stuff to recycle, the dog encounters and kinder kids being brought to play. Nothing like people watching! Many people get around on bikes scooters and we have to take care as they whoosh past silently.

Frankfurt is a stunning city, its tall buildings soaring over the Main river, and a protected green belt of wonderful gardens wrapping it around and helping the city breathe.  It has been a good spot to recover from the flight and now we are ready to hit the rails and head to Nuremberg.

Gute reise…

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