After many years of traveling through the Frankfurt airport, I finally was able get out of the airport and see the city. From the airplane, I caught my first glimpse of Frankfurt. The countryside is green, dotted with villages, and I could spot the Main river. All of this whet my appetite to explore the city.
Finally, the travel gods smiled on me. I booked a trip to Tunisia with a full 24 hour layover in Frankfurt! It turns out that Frankfurt is the perfect city for a layover and I was surprised at the amount of ground I was able to cover in a short time.
Here's what we were able to cover in a day:
Accommodations: Five Elements Hostel
First, we needed a centrally located comfortable place to stay and rest during our layover. We checked into the Five Elements Hostel which is conveniently situated near the Hauptbahnhof. Everything we saw in the city was walkable from this hostel.
Located only 3 train station stops and 15 minutes from the airport is the stylish and cozy 5 Elements Hostel. We booked a private room which came with a stunning top floor view of the city center:
Frankfurt is a modern city. It is nicknamed Mainhattan for its tall buildings and "Bankfurt" because of its banking industry. In fact, the European Central Bank is headquartered here. But don't let the buildings fool you - Frankfurt has plenty of historic and cultural sights.
We crossed the footbridge to the "new" old town, the recently renovated Altstadt.
House of the Golden Scales
While Frankfurt's skyline looks as cosmopolitan as Hong Kong or Manhattan, the city historically was known as having one of the most beautiful and largest Medieval old towns in Germany. In 1944, Frankfurt was bombed in a WW2 air raid, destroying 2,000 of the city's historic half timbered buildings. The DomRÃ¶mer Project is a building project that worked to restore and rebuild much of the city center to its historic Medieval design. Many of the buildings were recently unveiled in 2018.
Below is one of the most famous buildings, called the Goldene Waage, which was meticulously restored to its Medieval architecture using old photographs, blueprints, and expert craftsmanship.
âA few of the historic buildings in the old town survived the war relatively intact, including the medieval church, Old St. Nicholas, which is famous for its 47 bells.
To add a bit of culture to your layover trip, check out the StÃ¤del Museum, which has an impressive gallery of European art as well as a Picasso print exhibit on display through June. The museum also has a restaurant and free WiFi.
One of the best parts about visiting Germany is the food! Be sure to order the Frankfurters (of course!) and Apfelwein, which is a apple cider typical of the region. Another unique dish to the region is the Frankfurt Green Sauce, which is potatoes and eggs in an herb sauce that reminded me a blend of Peruvian Papa a la Huancaina in pesto sauce (aka. delicious).
Malaysia is home to over 30 million people and is a country filled with diversity in cultures, food, and cityscapes. During my trip to Asia, I made a stop over in Kuala Lumpur, the modern and unique capital city. Upon landing, I noticed the Malaysian flag everywhere - people carrying flags, flags on buildings, flags along the streets. I thought - wow this is a very patriotic place. Then I realized it wasn't just a normal day - it was Merdeka Day, or independence day! What are the chances that I land in Malaysia on this special holiday? Malaysia was celebrating their 60th anniversary of their independence from British rule.
With only 24 hours to spare in the city, I wanted to catch the Merdeka celebrations and hit the city's top highlights: the Batu Caves and Petronas Towers. Check out the behind the scenes video:
1. Merdeka Day
On Merdeka Day, August 31st, we woke up to the sound of military planes flying over the city. A group of fighter jets flew in unison across the unique cityscape.
2. Batu Caves
The Batu Caves are one of the most unique sites, easily accessible by the metro. We took a 30 minute metro ride from KL Sentral directly to the Batu Caves, a sacred Hindu site that features limestone caves and mischievous monkeys. As soon as I exited the metro, it felt like we were in India. Outside the cave is an Indian market, which is a feast for the senses. It smells like incense, there are fresh coconut stands, people making durian crepes, mukukku (an Indian snack), marigold flower necklaces, among many other shops.
The caves are accessible by a large staircase, lined with many mischievous monkeys. There are so many monkeys that we have to dodge them as we climb up to the caves. Finally, we reached the cave entrance - which was dark and filled with Hindu deities. It was magical and mysterious.
3. Petronas Towers
The Petronals towers are the Iconic symbol of Kuala Lumpur and the tallest twin towers in the world. The towers have an impossing, gun metal grey color that dominates the skyline. At one point, they were the tallest buildings in the world, but that title was taken by the Taipei 101, and other buildings. There is an observation deck, but it has extremely limited availablity of about 1000 tickets per day, and it is time slotted. Be sure to purchase tickets in advance. Otherwise, you can enjoy the towers from the outside, which includes a large water fountain and park.
Next, we take the train back to the airport - off to other adventures. Terima Kasih Malaysia!
Layovers present a unique opportunity for travelers. With a few hours to spare between flights, you can visit a new city that you otherwise would not have seen. During my trip from Los Angeles to Hong Kong, I experienced just that – I had a six-hour layover in Taipei. With only six hours to spare, it was just enough time to see some of the top sights in the city. Here is how I did it.
From the airport, I took the airport MTR train to the red line metro, which conveniently stops at many of the city’s highlights including Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial and Taipei 101. I purchased a metro day pass and the trip took roughly 45 minutes to get there. Even though I was short on time, the metro was easy to use and efficient which enabled me to maximize my stay in Taipei.
1. TAIPEI 101
I wanted to hit the most obvious tourist spot first: Taipei 101. It is the tallest building in Taipei’s skyline and an engineering marvel. In fact, during the time of its construction in 2004 to 2010, it was the tallest building in the world at 101 stories and 508 meters tall. The building dominates the city with its unique tiered design, resembling bamboo, which is a symbol of growth.
The tickets to the observation deck can be purchased inside Taipei 101 at NT$600, granting access to the 89th floor. To get to the top, I rode in the fastest elevator in the world, which took about 37 seconds. The ride was smooth and felt more like 10 seconds. Once the elevator doors opened, I found myself in a large room with floor to ceiling glass windows. The views from the top are absolutely jaw dropping.
2. DIN TAI FUNG
They say Taiwan is the country that never stops eating, which I found to be true. I took the elevator down to the bottom floor of Taipei 101, which had a sprawling food court. To my surprise, I spotted Din Tai Fung, one of Taiwan’s famous restaurants conveniently located in the building. Here, you can sample the soup dumplings, or Xiaolongbao, which originated in Taiwan. The dumplings are as tasty as they are photogenic. The restaurant has many locations around the world, but nothing can substitute enjoying it in the country of its origin.
3. CHIANG KAI-SHEK MEMORIAL
Next, we visit the Chiang Kai-shek memorial, who was the founder of Taiwan. We view the beautiful architecture of his memorial. Chiang Kai-shek was a Chinese political leader who served as president of the Republic of China on Taiwan. The plaza consists of a theater, memorial site, and historic gate and the architecture is impressive.
After visiting Taiwan's tallest building, eating at its most iconic restaurant, and visiting is important historical sights, we headed back to the airport on the train. Even though our trip was brief, we were able to see much of the city thanks to the modern high speed rail.
What are your favorite places in Taiwan? Comment below.
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