EUROPE 2016

Rhein-Main

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Why finish up at Frankfurt? Well, I had orginally wanted to do the Upper Rhein bike and barge tour from Basel to Mainz. When I first looked at it, there was space; so I booked flights to London, returning from Frankfurt. But by the time I rounded up the crew, there weren't space for seven.

The Deutsche Bahn ICE train took a little under 4 hours from Amsterdam to Frankfurt, arriving at 2:30PM. The first stretch in the Netherlands and in Germany until Köln traveled at normal track speed, about 100 miles per hour. From Köln to Frankfurt I was surprised that we no longer ran along the old line along the Rhein, rather on a new high speed line made up mostly of tunnels. I had not looked at the schedule closely, and was surprised when they announced Frankfurt Flughaven because we had not stopped at Bonn or Koblenz.

We got off at the airport station because our destination was the Ibis Frankfurt Airport hotel in the suburb of Kelsterbach; and it ran a shuttle bus to the airport. After getting our bearings we soon found the airport shuttle stop. The Ibis shuttle runs on a schedule, every half hour, and we missed it by only one minute. We discovered that the shuttle was very punctual.
Restaurant zum Treffpunkt. It was only 0.3 miles from our hotel; and we ate there 3 of the 4 nights in the area. The fourth, a Sunday, was ruhetag. Twice I had the calzone, one of my favorite Italian items and the best I've ever had.
The next day, Sunday, we headed into Frankfurt to go to mass at the so-call cathedral, Dom in German. We took the shuttle back to the airport and caught the s-Bahn into the Frankfurt main station. In the short time we were in the area, we became familiar with routes S8 and S9 whose stops included the main station airport, Kelsterbach, and Mainz.

The fare machines in the Frankfurt area were not the most intuitive I've seen; and the first time we needed help. A real bargain was the Groupentageskarte (day group ticket) valid all day between two points for 5 persons on any type of vehichle: train, tram, or bus. For example from the airport to the main station it was only €15.80 and from Kelsterbach to Bingen am Rhein €28,00
Looking for the Dom. I had a general idea where it was located and but had to follow one steeple to the next to track it down, mainly with Gary's help. Here we see the contrast between the old and new. Frankfurt is often referred to as Mainhatten, referring to the river Main and Manhattan.
Are we there yet?
End of mass at the Dom. The couple must have been celebrating a wedding anniversary.
After mass we went looking for Nextbike (see below) stations in order to rent bikes. The closest was at Römerplatz, named for the Römer, a building just out of the picture to the right that houses city hall and tourist office. There was only one there; so I rented it and went off looking for more.
The tourist office was kind enough to direct us to a public WC located below ground across the street on Paulsplatz. Paulplatz is named after Paulskirche, formerly a Lutheran Chuch, now like most a museum and concert hall.
I soon found enough bikes at the Ramada Hotel location a couple of blocks from the main train station.
Waiting for the s-Bahn at Niederad. The balloon tired bombers were reminiscent of the 50's; but weren't quite as heavy as they looked. In my case I could raise the seat OK, but after raising the handlebars as much as possible, they were still slightly too low.
Relaxing in the bike compartment on the s-bahn. We passed up the airport station and continued to the next stop, Kelsterbach, 0.9 miles from the hotel.
In the afternoon Gary, Lynn, and I took off west along the Main bike path, less than a half mile from the hotel. After a while we came to a lock and dam which had a walk way across to the small town of Eddersheim.
Being Sunday we came across a fest going on.
I'm not sure what the excuse for the fest was, but it had something to do with waterskiing. Elvis was the emcee.
Since is was so noisy, we decided to have our beer at the Mönchhof, a typical small town restaurant. The beer garten was completely full, so we went inside.
On the way back across the lock and damn we spotted two ships going through.
Since it was Sunday and the zum Treffpunkt was closed, we went to the Taverna Italiana, a bit farther at 0.6 miles but no problem since we now had bikes.
Today I removed an item from my punch list of things I want to do - bike along the Rhein in the Bingen am Rhein area. We biked to the Kelsterbach train station and took the now familiar s-bahn 8 as far as Mainz and transferred to a local to Bingen.
Exiting the Bingen am Rhein HBF, we crossed the track toward the bike trail on a bike/pedestrian overpass and got our first glimpse of the vineyards lining the hillside along the Rhein.
At first the trail went through bottom land woods, but then came upon the river across from Rüdesheim.
A better view of Rüdesheim.
We saw many ships on the river, industrial barges like this and luxury river cruise ships.
I wish I had remembered to bring my swimsuit today. We passed several nice beaches; and the water was surprisingly clear.
The family belonging to this collection was down below taking a swim. There's a papa bike with a detachable Tail-Gator type Tow Bar, a baby bike, and a momma bike with child's seat strapped on it.
Taking a closer look. Later as we were returning to Bingen, we passed them going the opposite way. The father was pulling one kid with the tail-gator and the other in the child's seat set up in the suicide position.
There are reputed to be 3 castles per kilometer in this area. The train is a local like we took between Mainz and Bingen.
Castle no. 2, or is it 2 and 3
No 3.
Castle 4, this one above Bacharach.
A closer view of the castle above Bacharach. The train is an IC heading for Köln
In general benches are scarce in Europe. But several towns along the way had benches strung along the path.
After an abortive detour into the town of Trechtingshausen looking for a place for lunch, we settled on this small cafe overlooking a campground and the river.
Garden plot owners use as a place to hang out.
Vineyard leading down to campground and river.
With Gary, Lynn, and Paula having to depart early tomorrow for the return flight, we had to return the bikes today. We decided to bike the 10 miles into Frankfurt to return them at the Ramada Hotel. We were enjoying the bike path on the left (south) bank of the Main so much that we missed the bridge leading to the main train station and the Ramada Hotel and got all the way to Offenbach before turning around.
The route first took us along along the Main in a semi-rural area, then inland for a while through parks and woods, and finally back to the river.
Getting closer to the center.
This is probably the bridge we missed.
Jeanine took this video to capture how fast the row boat was moving
After returning the bikes to the street corner in front of the Ramada, we walked to the main station (background to left) and caught good old s-Bahn 8. We had to decide whether to get off at the airport and wait for the hotel shuttle or continue to Kelterbach, the next stop, and walk the 0.9 miles back to the hotel. The consensus was shuttle.
Farewell dinner at zum Treffpunkt
One of zum Treffpunkt's specialties is schnitzel, including some standards like wienerschnitzel, jägerschnitzel, Zwiebelschnitzel, Zigeunerschnitzel, and rahmschnitzel, plus some not so standard such as Schnitzel Caprese and Schnitzel Mumbai. I had the rahmschnitzel, a pork cutlet in a mushroom cream sauce.
Gary had the Caprese, an Italian version, The night before he had the Mumbai with curry and pineaple
Waiting for the shuttle to the airport after a very nice stay at the Ibis Frankfurt Flughaven hotel.
Our Icelandair flight departed from Terminal 2. So, after getting off the hotel shuttle at Terminal 1, we quickly caught the bus that circulates between Terminals 1 and 2. I enjoyed the relative smallness of Terminal 2. About all I could see was a concourse with 4 banks of check-in desks and a mezzanine with food and shops and lounge like seating. There was no line to speak of at check in; and we soon went up to the mezzanine and camped out at the surprisingly nice McDonald's where we had much needed coffee.

Security at Terminal 2 went very fast, although I did get the full grope because I left a piece of paper (the ICE eTicket) in my pocket. Our Frankfurt to Iceland leg was about an hour late leaving; but we knew from experience that our connections would wait for us. This time we had to board a bus to get to the Keflavik terminal; and upon entering it I did see a flight status board, which made finding our connecting flight easier than on the way over. Despite the late departure from Frankfurt, it was only congestion at Ohare that kept us from arriving early.

The motel shuttle picked us up without much waiting and I was asleep by 8:05PM Chicago time. Unfortunately, I woke up at 4AM and couldn't get back to sleep. I used upgrade coupons to ride in style in business class on the train going home which also got us into the plush new first class lounge at Chicago Union Station.
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