Inside Terminal 1 at Dubai International Airport on a Wednesday evening. It was the start of the Eid Al Fitr public holiday so the airport was super busy with people going away for the long weekend.
After making my way through immigration and security I caught the train to Concourse D and headed to the Maharba lounge for a pre-flight snack.
I had organised this trip as a gift for Rianda's birthday several months earlier but she had unfortunately left it too late to apply for the necessary Schengen visa. As it was going to cost >$2000 to reschedule flights, hotels, train tickets, tours etc., as well as the leave being perishable (as it was a public holiday) we decided it would be best for me to just make the trip solo.
Flights for the trip were on Lufthansa (LH) travelling direct to Frankfurt (DXB-FRA) for the outbound and returning back from Brussels (BRU-FRA-DXB).
Heading off to the gate to board the 1am flight to Frankfurt.
The Lufthansa A330 waiting at the gate.
Watching the pre-flight safety briefing.
Chicken sandwich and tomato juice served soon after take-off.
Watching the first 30 minutes of the very average comedy Why Him? before reclining the seat to try to catch a few winks.
Hot breakfast served in the early morning after a half-decent 'economy' sleep.
44 kilometres out from Frankfurt Airport.
And the LH A330 at the gate after we arrived just after 6am in Germany.
After scanning my passport I headed through to catch the train into Central Frankfurt.
The plan for the next five days was to head from Frankfurt to Brussels via Luxembourg City and then on to Bruges before returning to Brussels via Ghent.
Outside Frankfurt (Main) Hauptbahnhof ready to explore some of Frankfurt.
Beside the Main River after a short walk south.
A tanker boat about to pass under the bridge.
The 30-storey tall Westhafen Tower on the left with Frankfurt (Main) Hauptbahnhof on the top-right.
Frankfurt (Main) Hauptbahnhof is the busiest railway station in Germany.
Wilhelm Leuschner Straße.
The Frankfurt skyline. Frankfurt is one of the few European cities with a large number of high rise buildings in its downtown area and is sometimes referred to as "Mainhattan".
A panoramic view of Central Frankfurt from above the Main River.
I then walked over the pedestrian bridge the Holbeinsteg back over the Main River.
Outside the former headquarters of the European Central Bank, which is now situated just down the road in a brand new building.
The Westin Grand Hotel. It was too early to check-in so I dropped off my bag and headed out to find some coffee.
A venti latte from Starbucks really hit the spot.
Just before 10:30am, I met up on the corner of Braubachstrasse and Neue Krämer for the Frankfurt on Foot walking tour. Only €14 for the 4 hour tour and it turned out to be well worth it.
Rated as the #1 tour in Frankfurt, Dave our guide today was an American who had spent 20 years in the US Army working as a Intelligence Analyst, and was now living in Frankfurt with his wife.
Outside Frankfurt CathedralHauptwache where Dave showed us an aerial photo of the Cathedral during World War II. During World War II the Old Town of Frankfurt was devastated by six bombardments by the Allied Air Forces. Dave explained that the Church was spared major sturctural damage not so much because the Allies had avoided bombing it, but due to the geometry of the tall spires and steep roofs which caused the bombs to often bounce off before exploding.
Looking up inside the main spire of the Cathedral. The interior was burned out completely during the war and reconstructed in the 1950's.
We then headed out to the Main River to the Eiserner Steg. The bridge was blown up by the Wehrmacht in the final days of World War II but rebuilt shortly afterwards in 1946. Dave joked that unlike French bridges, the solid German engineering ensured it wouldn't collapse with the weight of a few love locks!
Our next stop was the Karmeliterkloster (Carmelite Monastery) in the west of the Old Town.
We then walked onto the Römerberg. Just under the window ledge was a small bust of a man with his hand cupped to his ear. Dave told us a story on how the man represented a journalist who used to listen to the air vents in the City Council for gossip and story leads.
In the Römerberg where Dave showed us some more photo's of the damaged buildings around the square before they were reconstructed after World War II.
Inside Old St Nicholas Church dating from the 15th century.
Dave shared a photo of Jim Morrison who visited in 1968 and played a few rock tunes on the church organ.
We then walked down the Saalgasse, one of the oldest streets in the Old Town of Frankfurt. After its decimation during the World War II, Saalgasse was not fully reconstructed until the 1980's when several colourful postmodern architecture buildings were built.
At the Stadtplanungsamt (City Planning Department) where there was a model of the city. Visible is the Wallanlagen (Wall Park), a five-kilometre-long green belt thats runs along where the former city walls used to be.
Next stop was the Holocaust Memorial.
The Jewish Holocaust Remembrance Wall. There are almost 12,000 names on the wall, including Anne Frank and her sister Margot who were born in Frankfurt. Dave said that the Jewish population of Frankfurt was now about ~8,000.
A section of the old city wall, which was almost completely demolished in 1806.
Inside the Kleinmarkthalle where Dave showed us the best places to get some lunch.
Lots of delicious food on display.
Fresh redcurrants, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries.
I settled on a tasty German sausage, bread and a bottle of water.
Outside the MyZeil shopping mall. Dave said that in winter snow accumulates in the glass tunnel and used to fall onto the shoppers below until they built a sturdy verandah to stop it.
Riding to the top of Germany's tallest escalator inside.
The bear and bull outside the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. Dave said that the bear along side the bull was symbolic of the careful and conservative German attitude to finance.
Outside Frankfurt's Old Opera House. Built in 1880, decimated during World War II, standing derelict until the 1970's before finally re-opening in 1981.
Walking down Große Bockenheimer Straße.
As we continued our walk through the city, Dave told us how the Frankfurt on Foot tour came to be. Having been semi-retired since he was 38 with his US Army pension, his wife was sick of coming home to find him in his pajama's and playing Playstation all day. To keep him busy and out of trouble they came up with the idea to setup a walking tour to get him out of house everyday. He had the perfect personality for it, very friendly and talkative and a delight to spend 4+ hours with walking around central Frankfurt.
A beautiful red 964 series Porsche 911.
A slice of the old Berlin wall near the end of our walking tour. Back at our starting point I thanked Dave for the great introduction to Frankfurt with the very informative and fun walking tour.
A cup of pistachio and mocha ice cream to refuel and to cope with the Frankfurt summer heat.
Back at the Westin where I crashed out for a while after the redeye flight and busy day in Frankfurt.
Große Friedberger Straße. In the evening I went out for a walk.
Walking down the Zeil.
For dinner I settled on Fletchers Better Burger and had the artery-clogging triple pattie bacon cheesebuger, fries and a Mischmasch cola-orange-lemon soda.
The view of Downtown Frankfurt from the Alte Brücke (Old Bridge) at sunset.
Römerberg again with everyone enjoying the summer evening.
And back at the Westin and admiring the beautiful classic Oldsmobile in the hotel foyer at the end of day 1.
Up early on the morning of day 2.
Catching the U-bahn.
Back at Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof.
And about to board the 5:42am train to Koblenz.
Vanilla milk and oat & raisins biscuits for breakfast. I had bought all my train tickets for the trip online so saved a bit of hassle.
Passing wheat fields with the early morning sun rising.
Arriving at Koblenz Hauptbahnhof just after 7am.
I had 55 minutes until my connecting train to Luxembourg City so headed out to do some sightseeing.
Houses on the west side of the Rhine.
Riverboat heading south on the Rhine.
Philippsburg Castle on the bottom-right and Ehrenbreitstein Fortress on the top-left.
A tanker heading north on the Rhine.
And back at Koblenz Hauptbahnhof.
Ready to catch the train to Luxembourg.
Crusing back down along the Rhine.
Some Apfelchips while watching the movie Sand Castle on Netflix during the 2.5 hour train ride to Luxembourg.
And outside Gare de Luxembourg just after 10:30am.
Looking over to the Adolphe Bridge after a short walk into the city.
Military vehicles lined up on Avenue Marie-Thérèse. Today was Luxembourg National Day so they were getting ready for a street parade.
Luxembourg Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Walking along Rue des Capucins in the Old Town.
And outside my hotel on Rue Sigefroi for my one night stay, the Hotel Parc Beaux Arts.
My hotel room was split level with a living area on the bottom floor.
Paintings on the wall. The hotel is located next to the National Museum of History and Art.
The bedroom upstairs.
At €180 a night it was the most expensive hotel on my trip but definitely the most interesting!
It was about 1pm so I walked the short distance to Place d'Armes in search of some lunch. There were lots of people about enjoying the warm summer day.
I settled on Restaurant Au P'tit MAX situated just off the square.
Goat Cheese tortellini for the entrée.
The very tasty grilled Iberian pork rib with 5-pepper sauce for the main.
And the super delicious berry pavlova with gold flake for desert.
At just over €40 the price was very reasonable.
After lunch I headed to Luxembourg City History Museum.
After paying the €5 entrance fee I was directed to take the lift down to the bottom floor. The lift itself was quite a spectacle, and was the size of a large room with a rated capacity for 65 people!
Founded in 1996, the museum is situated in four restored houses from the 17th to the 19th century and presents the thousand-year history of the City of Luxembourg.
A 360 degree panorama of what the city streets were like in the years gone by.
Some old health and safety posters fron the 1920's. The steel industry used to dominate the country's industrial sector and ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steel producer, still has its headquarters in Luxembourg City.
During World War II the country was treated as German territory and informally annexed by the Third Reich before being liberated in 1944.
Along with Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands and West Germany, Luxembourg was a founding member of the European Economic Community in 1957.
VVIP's filing out of the Grand Ducal Palace, the official residence of the Grand Duke of Luxembourg.
After crashing back at the hotel for a while I headed out in the evening.
Kaale Kaffi. Dusk wasn't until 9:45pm so there was plenty of people out enjoying the warm summer evening.
People dancing to a lively Cuban band in Place d'Armes.
I was still pretty full from the late lunch, so grabbed a burger at the Quick restaurant on Place d'Armes.
Looking down on the city at dusk.
And back at the Hotel Parc Beaux Arts after a great day 2 in Luxembourg City.