Travel A to Z – F

Travel is still off the books, so it’s a good time this month to reflect on the good fortune I’ve had in my travelling life so far, and my wishes for travel of the future.

Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany: One of those place that people roll their eyes over. “Boring.” they say. “Much better places to visit in Germany.” Yes, there may be places that are more charming, of more interest to tourists, but Frankfurt-am-Main is not without attractions.

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Home of the Euro – excitement for bank nerds

Maybe not exciting to many, but Frankfurt is the home of the European Central Bank and therefore also, technically home of the Euro. Not exciting enough? Let’s try harder.

Frankfurt is not just about skyscrapers and money. You can visit the old town and have traditional German food and beer in a traditional setting. I hope you like beer in large half-liter steins. No? Hmm, let’s try something else.

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Come at the right time of year and you can enjoy the Wolkenkratzer Festival. “The what?” I hear you ask. The skyscraper festival! By happy serendipity we were in Frankfurt for the Wolkenkratzer festival, which meant you could visit parts of the high rise buildings normally off limits to the general public.

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Festivals don’t always come with good weather. And if you’re standing on the observation deck of a skyscraper, it’s much nicer if it’s warm and sunny, not cold and windy and raining.

And as with most festivals, there was a concert in the evening. We had a choice of seeing Status Quo or Nena. Yes, Nena, of the 99 Luftballoons song. Of course saw Nena. And you know what? She did 99 Luftballoons halfway through her set. To the rest of the world, that’s her only song, but in Germany, that’s not even her biggest end-of-show song!

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Nena! For free! In Germany!

Florence, Italy: I had an Italian boss. He was very excited when I told him I was planning a trip to Italy. “You must go to Firenze, it’s a beautiful city, the most beautiful city on earth. You will love it.” Maybe he didn’t say it quite like that and maybe he didn’t kiss his fingertips, but I remember it like that. So on his recommendation, Boyfriend-now-Husband and I planned to spend five days of our two week trip to Italy there.

But we didn’t love it.

Sometimes you click with a place and sometimes you don’t. Florence felt noisy, crowded, dirty, expensive, uninteresting. I can hear readers out there screaming, “How could you say that about Florence?” Sorry not sorry. Neither of us saw the beauty in the place – although we tried – and in the end we quit our accommodation two days early to move on to Siena (which we did like). We would have left earlier but we had bought tickets for the Uffizi Gallery and had to stay another day until we could make our visit there.

One thing positive about Florence that I remember is the statue of David. That truly is a wonder. So beautifully perfect, so lifelike despite the cold white marble. And you don’t get the impression from the photos, but he is incredibly tall. If you take the time to stand and stare long enough you will start to believe you see his muscles twitching. The artistry needed to create something so detailed is amazing, and if you do visit, take a seat, and spend some time looking – really looking.

But otherwise – sorry Florence – it just wasn’t for me.

David Sculpture's Hand
Photo: Jörg Bittner Unna via Wikimedia Commons [CC BY-SA 3.0]

Any fans of Florence who want to try and convince me are welcome to put their arguments down in the comments.

Somewhere I would like to visit:

Fuji (Mount), Japan: Fuji-san. It’s iconic. It’s one of those things you’ve seen so many times before that seeing it for real may not even feel real. From others who have been to Japan, I understand you’re not even guaranteed to see Fuji-san, as he hides behind clouds from time to time. But if conditions are right, there it is, Mount Fuji.

One day, Fuji-san, one day.

Ukiyo-E by Tsuchiya Koitsu Shoji Lake / Mount Fuji – from Artelino

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