DAY 1 – Wednesday 10 October 2018
Departing from Athens airport I bid my adieu to Greece and her warmhearted people, historic monuments, and jewel colored seas. From my window seat, I marvel at the mountainous terrain as the plane flew over countries I have yet to visit. Descending into Frankfurt I admire the Main River that flows through the German states of Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg and Hesse.
I take a taxi from the airport and check into NH Hotel, where I’m greeted by the welcoming staff. At reception there is a console table lined with jars of assorted sweets, bowls of fresh fruit, pastries and jugs of fruit infused water for guests to help themselves. My room is delightfully clean, quiet, comfortable and pleasant, and is decorated in a fresh, lively palette of green and white. There’s an extra surprise of chocolates and a hand-written note on my bed. A memorable welcome indeed!
It’s late afternoon and I head over to the Frankfurt Book Fair, just across the road from my hotel, to acquaint myself with the surroundings and many buildings. You actually have to see this to believe just how many exhibition halls there are.
The opportunity to travel to Frankfurt came about in recognition of my first book, a cultural cookbook titled Greek Life that won Best Mediterranean and Best Self-Published Book for Australia in the prestigious Gourmand International Cookbook Awards. Did I mention how excited I am to be in this city, for this occasion? It all seems surreal.
After a late yet simple dinner at the hotel, I take a long hot shower and tuck myself into a pristine and comfortable bed, and enjoy an indulgent and restorative sleep.
Day 2 – Thursday 11 October 2018
I start the day with a nutritious and delightful breakfast, and head to the Frankfurt Book Fair for a day of networking, listening to talks and discussing book deals. It’s amazing, and I meet some truly wonderful people. There’s much to consider for the direction of my book.
After a full day at the fair I head to the nearby Grandhotel Hessischer Hof Hotel, the original city residence of Prince Wolfgang of Hesse, for a late afternoon drink.
The bar and Winter Room is bustling with attendees from the fair and the networking continues, with lively conversations, and sips of wine whilst taking in the sunlight streaming through the large picture windows.
Later I hail a taxi to take me to the old town Römerberg, where I explore this beautiful public space that is located in front of the Römer building. This historic building that has been the seat of the city administration since the 15th century.
Römerberg has beautiful wooden buildings, and I admire the magnificent Statue of Justice in the square just as the sound of an acordion fills the early evening air with distinctive German music. There are touristy shops, inviting cafes and restaurants, and pretty colorful window planter boxes with cascading flowers and foliage adding a beautiful adornment to the Binding-Schirn German Bar.
Meandering through the cobblestone streets, I walk over a sprinkling of colorful confetti. It looks so pretty. I head towards the Iron Bridge that spans the River Main, with its ironwork laden with thousands of love locks. The sun is setting and the evening sky is changing hues from blue to gold and silver. Buskers are performing a little further up the bridge and I enjoy the music while taking in the view of the Frankfurt Cathedral across the river.
Walking over the bridge I notice a overarching sign written in Greek, and I marvel at the thought that whatever city one may travel to there is always some influence from this ancient culture.
The views are fantastic, particularly the view of the downtown skyline Mainhatten, the business district where the architecture is very much like Manhatten, NYC. As I make my way across the bridge I can see the bustling Frankfurt Boathouse with its welcoming and vibrant orange colored theme.
Walking back through Römerberg I cross the main street that takes me to the Mall, where I visit an amazing bookstore, walk past Lebkuchen-Schmidt with the captivating window displays of the most beautiful, colorful and ornate tins.
I hail a taxi to Ariston Greek Restaurant at Heliligkreuzgasse where I’m greeted with the warmth of Greek hospitality and the delightful aromas of Hellenic cuisine. Framed photos of famous Greek actors line the wall of the entrance. Tonight the restaurant is fully booked so I take a table outside and feast upon complimentary dips before ordering an amazing Saganaki of Seafood, crisp salad, and delightful white wine.
On the way back to the hotel I ask the taxi driver to take me past the Alt Oper (Opera House). It is grand and beautifully framed by ornate street lamps, and the entrance is lit up in hues of soft pink that perfectly showcase the imposing architecture.
I return to my room, put the finishing touches to my latest book, a memoir titled Any Given Thursday, and press publish on Amazon Kindle. The chance coincidence of publishing my memoir on a Thursday is not lost on me.
Day 3 – Friday 12 October 2018
With bagel in hand I make my way to the Book Fair for a full day of commitments. I enjoy a mid-morning coffee, and as Georgia is the guest country I choose to lunch on authentic Georgian cuisine. A truly delicious experience!
In the afternoon I attend the Hellenic Foundation for Culture. With wine in hand and a light buffet of spinach pies, assorted cheeses, bread and olives, this was a great opportunity for networking.
In need of some sunlight, I take a walk outside and discover La Tagliatella with its beautiful and rich decor, attentive staff and extensive menu. I choose a seat outside and enjoy a cup of coffee, followed by a spot of shopping at the amazing nearby Skyline Plaza.
After freshening up I take a drink in the courtyard of my hotel before enjoying a late dinner of a simply divine spaghetti marinara, mixed salad, and glass of wine at Ristorante Tridico. This homely yet modern restaurant serves delicious Calabrian cuisine and European wines in an ambient and friendly setting.
Day 4 – Saturday 13 October 2019
I’m excited to be taking the Heidelberg Rhine Tour. A personal driver collects me from the hotel at 9am and I arrive at the bus terminal in time for departure at 9.30am. The tour guide is amazing, quite funny, and entertaining.
We drive past a gated community garden where people hire patches to grow their own vegetables and herbs. I’m reminded of how fortunate I am to have my yard with fruit trees, herbs, vegetables, roses, ornamental trees and lawns.
The sky is a beautiful clear blue, and the trees are turning to Autumn tones. As a side note, today is the hottest Frankfurt day in over 100 years!
The bus stops in the picturesque city of Old Heidelberg that sits on the south side of the Neckar River. Across the water are the Celtic and Roman settlements.
The Church of the Holy Spirit is the most famous church in Heidelberg. Built in the Gothic style it stands in the middle of the market place, with its steeple rising proudly above the rooftops. In the distance I can see the famous Schloss Heidelberg (Heidelberg Castle) that sits atop the hill.
There are imposing and colorful buildings surrounding the market square in Old Heidelberg with a magnificent Statue of Hercules rising from a fountain.
With my newly found girlfriends from the US we meander down cobblestone streets with overhanging flags, past the famous Hotel Ritter and the Church of the Holy Spirit. We continue to visit colourful souvenir shops, admire the artistic workmanship of the cuckoo clocks, and enjoy some of the delights at an artisan bakery with an impressive selection of bread, quiches, pastries and sweets.
We reconvene at the bus and make our way up to castle, and walk through the gates, across the grounds to some very impressive views of the river and beyond. After taking many photos, we enter the cellars to view one of the world’s largest barrel, constructed in 1751 with an estimated capacity of 221,726 litres.
A visit to the historic and impressive apothecary and meandering through the various rooms and passageways is a must.
Back on the bus we travel to Kaub where we board the boat, take our seat on the deck with wine in hand and sail the Rhine, past vineyards for as far as the eye can see. We marvel at the beauty of the landscape, the autumnal colours, and castles dotted on the hillside before stopping for dinner at the quirky and artistic Anker Restaurant.
Day 5 – Sunday 14 October 2018
It’s my last morning in Frankfurt, and after breakfast I take a stroll enjoying the sunshine as I bid farewell to this city. It’s been a wonderful few days, and I’ve made meaningful connections, enjoyed amazing experiences, and created life-long memories. Now it’s time to head home!