Letztes Wochenende bin ich nach Frankfurt gefahren – um meine Cousine zu besuchen. Frankfurt ist die letzte der großen Städten Deutschlands, die ich (bis jetzt) noch nicht besucht habe.
After waiting so long to travel it felt so good to be able to drive to Germany again. I was originally meant to visit Frankfurt last August, but at the last minute, the UK government restricted travel resulting in me not going.
So as travel restrictions started to ease in the second half of this Summer, I knew that Germany would be fairly high up the list of places to go.
And so after work last Thursday, I set off for Dover. Since I changed my car in June 2020, this is the first time I’ve taken my car abroad. Having a GT spec car without the GT badge/price tag, makes my car perfect for travelling. At the touch of a button I’ve switched all my displays in to km and km/h. Full European coverage on the car’s in-built sat nav. When I cross an international border the dashboard welcomes me to the new country (in German of course because that’s the language I’ve set my car’s computers to), and the main radio/sat nav screen flashes up with that country’s general speed limits.
Above: Plenty of German, Dutch and Belgian radio stations are now saved in to my car radio’s memory.
Of course I took advantage of the German Autobahn where for the most part there are no speed limits. I felt completely comfortable driving at high speed for a prolonged period of time. My cruising speed – the speed at which I felt comfortable driving at without really having to think or put much effort in – was 170km/h (105mph) and on to a top speed of 190km/h (118mph) – but on Monday, with the air con off and Sport Mode enabled, I also had opportunity to go faster and made it to a top speed of 210km/h (130mph).
Left: The only change post-Brexit is that my passport now gets stamped when entering and leaving the EU.
Right: Main Auto ist zu Hause!
I arrived in Calais at about 4am. A short hop to the Belgian border. Technically, I am not allowed in to Belgium or the Netherlands at the moment. They class the UK as high risk / red zone – but I am allowed to ‘transit’ the countries – If I’m there for under 12/48 hours (can’t remember which way round it is – both countries have slightly different rules), no need to fill in any forms, take a Covid test or quarantine.
Between Calais and the German border I basically tried not to stop. One stop for petrol at a motorway services near Bruges, and another stop at Rotselaar for breakfast. Both Belgium and the Netherlands have now done away with mask wearing; On the ferries you’re ment to wear a mask but actually it was about 50/50. I started off wearing a mask but when I realised a lot of people weren’t I took mine off. I hate wearing those things!
On crossing the border with Germany masks are back – and Germany is strict. My fabric Napier Tartan mask was not allowed. It had to be a medical mask, FFP3 or KN95 – like the ones we sell at work. At a motorway services, a Dutch family had to return to their car to get their masks. At the same servie station a Dutch tourist dared to enter without a mask…..It was like the devil had entered the room.
Germany is also very hot on checking your vaccination status. Want to eat at a restaurant? Show proof of vaccinatioin. Want to eat indoors at the motorway services? You need proof of vaccination. The same goes for tourist attractions, museums, even outdoor tourist attractions.
The UK is still a Red-List country in Germany – but travellers who are vaccinated are exempt from testing on arrival, exempt from quarantine, and do not have to have an “acceptable reason” to travel to Germany – that is to say, that you may travel for a holiday/leisure purposes.
Enough about Covid. Although a short visit to Germany, I had a great time. My cousin was working Friday so before going to Frankfurt I drove in to the Rheinland – the first area of Germany I ever went to, on a school trip in 2006! The Rheinland has since been one of my favourite parts of Germany to drive to.
I stopped in Boppard and took the chair lift up to the viewpoint where you can get a panoramic view over the town and the Rhine valley. There are also plenty of hiking and cycling routes in the area (and it is possible to take a bike on the chairlift!)
At the top I admired the view and had a quick lunch before I took the chair lift back down. A walk along the river back to the car, and then it was on to Rüdesheim – another favourite of mine. This was a much shorter visit, as I’d spent longer in Boppard than intended. A quick walk and then a look in some tourist shops. Then I set the sat nav for Frankfurt.
Above: Photos taken in and around Bobbard-am-Rhein, Rheinland-Pfalz.
Arriving as darkness started falling across the city, once parked up and settled in we had a walk in the city then went to a restaurant for dinner. Traditional German for the first night: I had a schnitzel, which was very good (and also very filling).
After breakfast on Saturday I could finally see Frankfurt in daylight! We walked down to the river – via the Japanese Garden. The intention was to get the boat but the queues were quite long, so we didn’t bother (I don’t particularly like queuing or big crowds anyway).
Instead we walked along the river, which was just as nice, and very peaceful. The weather was perfect. Bright sunshine – and I didn’t mind the slight chill in the air which made it feel rather cold. The Germans are already in their winter coats and scarves!
We visited the Historisches Museum in Frankfurt which I enjoyed, lots of interesting information about the history of the city, how it was rebuilt after the war….Oh no, I’ve mentioned it!
I won’t mention the war again. I mentioned it once but I think I got away with it….
The German banking system features heavily in the museum. There’s a timeline of important events in Frankfurt, Germany and Europe. On the top floor there is a very impressive model of Frankfurt, made out of whatever materials they could find – for example, an old mobile phone is used to represent one of the high-rise buildings in the financial district.
In the evening we went to a Greek restaurant. Taverna Άλφα (Alpha) had a good looking menu and I enjoyed eating my giouvetsi (I should have written that the German way – jouvetsi). Tasted not too dissimilar to the ones I get in Greece!
Sunday morning saw a visit to the Palmengarten, one of the botanical gardens in die Stadt. Could have spent hours there as there was a lot to see. We only spent an hour or two there, and in that time the queue of people waiting to get in grew from no queue when we arrived, to half way down the street when we left. Perhaps the first good weather for a while combined with the part of Hessen’s school holidays, was a factor.
In the afternoon, we went over to a friend of my cousin’s (pre-arranged before I booked to go to Germany), in order to have a Sunday roast, and to watch the Grand Prix – Quite a good way to spend World Mental Health Day actually. Nothing too taxing, I love watching Formula 1, and roast beef is my favourite, especially with Yorkshire Pudding!
An early start on Monday – After breakfast, I walked in to the centre, got some Frankfurt postcards (they can go up on to my bedroom wall, when I get a minute) before saying my goodbyes and getting in the car. My first stop was Klassikstadt, a sort of car museum. I say “sort of” because it is actually a storage facility for classic and rare cars – but it doubles up as a museum.
All the cars on display are privately owned, and the owners can turn up at any time, and drive off in them whenever they want. On site garages and mechanics keep them in good shape. There are classic and modern car dealerships, and a restaurant too.
After a walk around Klassikstadt and deciding which car I’d drive home in (eventually I decided I’d take my own car back home) I went in to the Taunus mountains. I drove up to the top of Großer Feldberg, the highest point in the mountain range. Not much of a view though. At times I struggled to see the top of the radio transmission tower, because of all the cloud. But in Summer, on a clear day, I’m sure it would be very nice (and I did enjoy driving in the area).
Then – back to Calais – to return to the UK.
What’s driving in Europe like after Brexit? No different to before.
Where next? Well – I’d like to do Switzerland properly – I only passed through it briefly 2 years ago on the way back from Greece – but loved driving in the Swiss Alps! I’d quite like to do Poland again – Maybe drive to Gdansk or somewhere like that (stop in Berlin on the way). Need to spend a week in Germany next year too – either Rheinland or Schleswig-Holstein, or Black Forest, or Munich…..Just give me all of Germany and I’ll be happy!