Last Thursday, at 13:35, my fall break officially began; however, I did not commence my fall break travels until Saturday. After spending the night in Sofia, I woke up at 2:00 (with only two hours of sleep) and headed to the airport to catch a plane at 6:00 to Frankfurt. When I touched down in Frankfurt, I was met by my uncle whom I would be spending four days with. Arriving at his flat in a city outside of Frankfurt, I was able to meet his girlfriend and her daughter as well as reunite with my two cousins.
Saturday was filled with many activities; keeping me busy as we toured throughout the city. Following a delicious breakfast (accompanied by a couple cups of hot coffee), I went with the girls to the nearby market to experience a traditional German shopping environment. We meandered through the city’s main shopping area; filled with shoppers of many ages. Stopping in a wine shop, we sampled many wines; eventually purchasing a few bottles for both them and me. Wine tasting was followed by lunch at a traditional German restaurant located outside of the city in the forest next to a winding creek. Here, I tasted the first beer which I ever enjoyed (a dark yeast one) and ate schnitzel (a traditional German dish). Because I had been awake since two, I took a nap for a few hours before being informed by my uncle that he would take me to the local casino. Unlike the casinos in Las Vegas, this casino required a dress code; obviously, a classy place. Buying about fifty euros worth of tokens, we tried our hand at a few games, watched black jack and poker, and had a drink. Although we were both terrible at the games, we had a good time; leaving the casino with a few good stories to tell.
On Sunday, I woke up and went with my uncle on a trail run through a nearby forest; enjoying the freedom of exploring nature with our feet. After another nice breakfast, we hopped in the car to go sightsee throughout the Rhine Valley. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the scenic route along the river was filled with quaint towns, castles, and beautiful scenery. After driving through the lovely river valley for about an hour and a half, we stopped and toured the Marksburg Castle; a fortress virtually unchanged since medieval times. From its vantage point high above the river, we had a spectacular view of the surrounding area. The tour of my first castle was a great adventure; ending my second day in Germany.
(the Marksburg Castle)
Monday again began with a morning run, this time in the countryside; passing pastures, vineyards, and brooks with the sun rising to greet us. After a quick breakfast, we headed to Saalburg; a Roman stronghold used in the border fortification of the German provinces during the rule of the empire. Following our tour of the fort, we joined my uncle’s parents for coffee and cake. Although neither of them were fluent in English, we had an enjoyable afternoon; allowing me to see into the “typical” lives of the German culture. With the renewed energy of our afternoon coffee, we drove into Frankfurt to meet my uncle’s girlfriend, who works in a tall building in the downtown area. Rising to the top of the tower, we were able to view many areas of Frankfurt; permitting me to have a unique perspective of the city. When she had to return to work, we continued to explore the city; viewing churches, the Main River, and stopping for drinks in a club with a nice view of the nighttime skyline.
Today marked my last full day in Frankfurt. Because my uncle’s Achilles tendon was bothering him, I ran alone; discovering a nearby park with a nice path around a pond. Our plans for the day began with a trip to the Eberbach Abbey, a Cisterian monastery; used to film several scenes in “The Name of the Rose.” Rising fog created a perfect backdrop for our audio guided tour of the monastery. Leaving the abbey, we continued to Mainz; where Gutenburg used the printing press to print books. Also in Mainz, I attended my first Catholic mass at the Mainz Cathedral (also known as St. Martin’s Cathedrial); enjoying the music and ambience of the Romanesque church. Back at the flat, I played Monopoly with my cousins; quickly ending the game because none of us have long attention spans. Because it was my final night in Frankfurt, the entire family went out for dinner; deciding on a Mexican restaurant with delicious food.
After spending only four days in Germany, I have come to love this beautiful country. The autumn is filled with multicolored trees and mild weather; allowing me to experience German life to the fullest. Although I still have six days of fall break remaining, I know that I will return to this place before I die; feeling as though I have found some part of myself while traveling here!