After arriving on time and clearing the E-Gates for Passport control, we transferred terminals to the train station at the airport, which is in Terminal 1 (we arrived at Terminal 2); there’s a free shuttle bus between the terminals. We’re dropped off at the entrance to the bahnhof and bought tickets (5.60€ each) at the automated machine, for Frankfurt, but did not see a sign for the S-Bahn (S Bahn = Schnell = Fast) and ended up taking an ICE, but the high speed train was running late 😉 ; it was nearly empty. It’s Sunday, so the airport and (especially) the UBahn stations are quieter than during the week.
Difficult to see in this photo, but this ICE is a “klimaschützer” a “climate protector” (hence the green stripe). I couldn’t find a complete explanation, but it is designed to reduce CO2 emissions since it is powered by green electricity (electricity produced from solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, eligible biomass, and low-impact small hydroelectric sources). Since 2018, all ICE and IC trains have been running with 100 percent green electricity. According to the railway, 1.4 million tons of CO2 were saved in 2018. This corresponds to the output of one million cars.
The only downside to taking the ICE was when we get to the main train station (~30 minutes), we do need to find the U Bahn as our hotel is a few blocks from where we should stop. The U Bahn was easy to find and it arrives shortly after we walk down to the platform. Just three stops and up to street level and two easy blocks to the hotel by 10 am. It’s about 40° and high clouds. We were able to check in early and they’re still serving breakfast, nice since the airline breakfast was a cup of yoghurt, granola and some fruit.
After resting up a bit, time to go find the Weihnachtsmärkte, why we came! There are several, all in the same central square about a 10 minute walk from our hotel. At 4pm, it’s crowded, but as the evening wears on, it’s just shoulder to shoulder. There’s a central Christmas tree (not yet lit when we arrive), stall after stall selling food and drink. Not as many stalls selling ornaments, etc as we’ve seen in Nuremberg (our next stop), although there’s a Käthe Wolfhart (famous for Christmas ornaments; we visited many years ago in Rothenberg ob der Tauber); tonight the line to get in is just too long.
It was still daylight when we arrived about 4, but by 5pm, it’s dark. We wandered through the the Römerberg (Its origins date back to 1393) – Frankfurt’s famous old town centre, down to the Main river and back, stopping to have bratwurst, kartoffelpuffen (potato pancakes with apfelsauce) , a gluhwein, and a Feuerzangenbowle (how could you pass up something with that name?). These cost in the range of 5-7€ each.
The markets extend for four or more city blocks on each side of the entrance to the central square and for at least a couple of blocks wide. It’s not quite as concentrated as we remember Nuremberg (we’ll see next how that may have changed). On Sunday, the Weihnachtsmärkte closes at 9pm, but we’re already fatigued from the flight and ready to walk back to the hotel.
Country count 1
City count 1
Christmas markets count 1