Lemonicks https://www.lemonicks.com Travel blog of an Indian couple who bring travel stories from across the globe. Sat, 18 Nov 2017 15:07:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.3 Slovenia’s Traditional Welcome Bread Pogača https://www.lemonicks.com/europe/slovenia/belokranjska-pogaca-slovenia-traditional-bread/ https://www.lemonicks.com/europe/slovenia/belokranjska-pogaca-slovenia-traditional-bread/#comments Mon, 13 Nov 2017 03:38:56 +0000 https://www.lemonicks.com/?p=20681 Pogača– Slovenia’s Traditional Welcome Bread

When I first saw Pogača, I wondered what was so unique about it. It looked similar to Slovakian, Hungarian, Russian or Turkish bread! And it’s a tradition in those countries also to welcome with a salted bread. I was wrong. Baking Belokranjska Pogača, Slovenia’s traditional welcome bread, has been passed onto from generation to generation. Locally it is known as Belokranjska Pogača (pronounced as Pogacha) or Bela Krajina flat bread. Light, salty and round in shape Pogača is baked mostly to welcome guests at home.

There is a folk song that goes like this … Read the rest

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Pogača– Slovenia’s Traditional Welcome Bread

When I first saw Pogača, I wondered what was so unique about it. It looked similar to Slovakian, Hungarian, Russian or Turkish bread! And it’s a tradition in those countries also to welcome with a salted bread. I was wrong. Baking Belokranjska Pogača, Slovenia’s traditional welcome bread, has been passed onto from generation to generation. Locally it is known as Belokranjska Pogača (pronounced as Pogacha) or Bela Krajina flat bread. Light, salty and round in shape Pogača is baked mostly to welcome guests at home.

There is a folk song that goes like this ‘Give him Pogača for a spring in his step’ when children go from house to house calling for Zeleni Jurij (Green George Festival).
Children would wait patiently when mothers prepared freshly baked Pogača but they were not allowed to eat till the guests had it. Hence Belokranjska Pogača was even more eagerly awaited! 😀

We were having it for breakfast every day! So I decided to join a workshop to learn.

How to make Pogača

Belokranjska Pogača Slovenia traditional bread
Sprinkling cumin seeds & rock salt crystals
How to make Pogača at lemonicks.com
The ingredients

I started with pouring the measured flour into a large bowl and adding yeast (which I had soaked in water to activate it), a bit of sugar, salt, oil and warm water to it. Kneading was the next step and then she instructed me to fold the dough. My hands moved fast giving it the required suppleness and consistency. The best test for it is that the dough should not stick to your hands. The dough for Pogača was ready now and was left for 15-20 minutes to rise.
While waiting, Bernarda, the certified Pogača maker, told me all about Pogača.

Pogača (पोगाचा in Hindi) is a typical Slovenian welcome bread. Round in shape, it has a diameter of approximately 30 cm. The edges are 1–2 CMs thick while the centre is 3 to 4 cm thick.

Not everybody is allowed to make Pogača. To be able to make the standard Belokranjska Pogača, one has to pass an exam to prove one’s skills and get a certificate. The official size of a Pogača is 30 CMs. From time to time, the inspectors come to check if the Pogača makers are adhering to specifications or not.

Traditionally in Slovenia the guests are welcomed with a freshly baked Pogača and wine. Sometimes when the wine is ‘measured’ meaning it’s sold out, the homemade brandy or coffee is also offered to guests. The Pogača is not cut, instead the guests tear a piece off it, as a sign of being welcomed into the host’s house. The name, Pogača, has come from the Latin term panis focacius meaning ‘hearth, place for baking’. The roots of the flatbread take us back to the Slovenian region of Bela Krajina which is also known as White Carniola in English.

Now the dough was risen, double to its size; and I knew what to do with it. I made a flat round base, making sure that the centre was thicker than the edges. Barnarda’s watchful eyes were watching me and she was fine-tuning my techniques.

Next step was to make incisions with a knife on the base. Bernarda deftly showed me how to do it, total seven incisions … one in the centre and 3 on each side. I was careful to make the incision just deep enough so as not to cut the base into separate pieces. I then turned the based 90 degrees and made 7 more incisions. So now we had a lovely chequered design.

I coated the bread with a beaten egg, leaving a portion for those who do not eat eggs. Now it was almost ready to go into the preheated oven at 200-220 C. As per Bernarda’s instructions, I generously sprinkled some cumin seeds and coarse sea salt on it before its journey to the oven.

Twenty minutes later, the room was filled with the aroma of freshly baked Slovenian Pogača. Our sensory organs were accentuated and we were eager to bite into it. The grid on the surface made it easy to tear off pieces.

Belokranjska Pogača slovenia welcome bread lemonicks.com
Freshly baked Belokranjska Pogača

Party time!

Belokranjska Pogača Slovenia traditional bread
Would you like to have some? 🙂

Soon, we were having a small party at Barnarda’s workshop cum showroom! The bread was soft and delicious. The crunchy salt crystals made it even better. We chatted with her over a glass of good quality wine Metliška črnina by K Z Metlika. Belokranjska Pogača was mostly baked in wine growing regions. It goes well with wine and in earlier days, people believed that Pogača soaked up the wine and prevented hangovers.

Barnarda has a showroom where she has displayed all the handicraft items which she procures from producers and sells. Among all the handicraft items my favourite was the embroidery work and painted eggs! I even tried my hands on an egg. It needs days of practice to be able to make some designs.

Bela Krajina bibi turizem

If you happen to visit Bela Krajina, Slovenia, make sure you try Belokrajnska Pogača. You can contact Bernarda Kump at BIBI Turizem and on Facebook.

Note: While what I made was the standard Belokranjska Pogača, the locals frequently bake with a lot of bacon or cheese toppings too. While this is not a standard Pogača, it is also quite delicious for those who love meat or cheese.

Getting there: Bela Krajina is a small traditional region in south-eastern Slovenia touching the Croatian border. It is at 100 KMs from Ljublijana and an hours’ drive from Croatian capital Zagreb.

Have you been to Slovenia before? What was the best food you tasted there? Share your experiences in the ‘Comments’ section below.

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Story of Meissen White Gold https://www.lemonicks.com/europe/germany/meissen/meissen-porcelain-white-gold-saxony/ https://www.lemonicks.com/europe/germany/meissen/meissen-porcelain-white-gold-saxony/#comments Tue, 07 Nov 2017 11:58:15 +0000 https://www.lemonicks.com/?p=20557 Strong man covets the white gold

Augustus II the Strong, the Elector Prince of Saxony and the King of Poland was an avid patron of arts and decided that Dresden would be the cultural center. He also had a great liking for gold, real yellow ones. His great love, bordering on avarice, resulted in him recruiting a young alchemist work on the Goldmacher Tinktur or the Gold making formula to convert base metals to gold.

meissen porcelain white gold saxony dresden Albrechtsburg
Meissen Cathedral seems to grow of Meissen Castle. This was where it all started. Meissen Manufactory. PC Saxony Tourism

You may say, oh not another … Read the rest

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Strong man covets the white gold

Augustus II the Strong, the Elector Prince of Saxony and the King of Poland was an avid patron of arts and decided that Dresden would be the cultural center. He also had a great liking for gold, real yellow ones. His great love, bordering on avarice, resulted in him recruiting a young alchemist work on the Goldmacher Tinktur or the Gold making formula to convert base metals to gold.

meissen porcelain white gold saxony dresden Albrechtsburg
Meissen Cathedral seems to grow of Meissen Castle. This was where it all started. Meissen Manufactory. PC Saxony Tourism

You may say, oh not another of those stories but hold on.

The alchemist, Johann Friedrich Böttger, worked on it for nearly six years. However, he did not succeed in producing the gold but he, with his mentor, Ehrenfried Walther von Tschirnhaus, were successful in creating the white gold. While there may be a raging debate as to who brought white gold to Europe first, there is no debate as to how much it was valued during those days.

meissen porcelain white gold saxony dresden
Augustus 2 the Strong as part of Princes Parade, Dresden Castle. Do you know why his horse is on two legs?

Yes, I am talking about porcelain. Porcelain was worth its weight almost as much as gold in those days and could be manufactured. When the Augustus saw this, he also saw profit in this process. He was excited and set up a factory in Meissen in 1710 and Meissen Porcelain Manufactory was born and is in business even today!

The location of the first factory was right inside the Albrechtsburg Castle itself and was its home for 150 years before the factory was moved out. Augustus chose Meissen because the small town had extensive local deposits of Kaolin, a clay ingredient needed for fine porcelain creation. The castle was quiet and isolated; a good place for work and creativity.

meissen porcelain white gold saxony dresden
Saxonia and her 2 sisters in House of Meissen

After hearing the story we were now ready for the Meissen Porcelain Museum and the workshop too. Right at the entrance, greeting us was Saxonia, Saxony’s Icon specially created for the 25th anniversary of German reunification. Saxonia, who is often called the Statue of Liberty of Saxony, is perhaps the tallest free standing handmade Meissen porcelain sculpture decorated with 8000 handmade flowers on her dress. It weighs 800 kilograms, or over 1700 pounds.

meissen porcelain white gold saxony dresden
Saxonia, Saxon Statue of Liberty, in a different light! Note the double-crossed-swords logo on the right

Abracadabra, the enchantment rooms

To see the magic we entered the first of the studios, where fresh white clay was being transformed, first into small balls of white then into various small parts that go into making a bigger object. Every part was handmade by creating the shapes required by hand or by using a mould or by a small potter’s wheel! The clay is mixed with other secret ingredients, as per a well-protected recipe and comes to this place ready to use.

meissen porcelain white gold saxony dresden

The first Meissen porcelain products produced successfully were gold decorations. Later, in 1723 multicolor enameled painting was introduced. Initially the Meissen artists created enamel porcelain paintings of oriental patterns. Then they expanded to detailed landscapes, animals, flowers and Chinese-inspired decoration.

We were told that the white clay, called Kaolin, are mined from the company’s own mines. While the artisan was busy putting out the parts to dry; she explained that it was the Kaolin which gives the final product, translucency and other ingredients are for fluxing, color, hardness and strength.

meissen porcelain museum white gold saxony
Artisan showing off her dexterous skills in creating small folds of cloth

 

Around this time multiple pieces are joined together to make a whole figurine, if required. Once it is dry the pieces are smoothed and sent out for first firing in the kiln. It is fired for many hours. These pieces are then sent back to another set of artisans for under-glaze painting. A few basic designs may be painted by hand and then sent back to the kiln for glazing and firing again to bond glaze, paint and the base.

meissen porcelain white gold saxony dresden

After the porcelain objects return from glazing, more intricate designs are first sketched by pencil upon the surface and later painted using bright colors by the artists. Did I say before it was magic? The steadiness of the hands and the perfection in their skills were mind blowing, to say the least. Finally the distinctive logo of Meissen, two crossed swords in blue, are painted on reflecting the mark of excellence for over 300 years.

meissen porcelain white gold saxony
Evolution of logo of Meissen Porcelain. The very first logo at the top was the initials of Augustus the strong

Now the pieces are sent for final round of baking. This time to a temperature that melts the paint particles, softens the glaze there by fusing the paint onto the surface permanently. The paint may often change color during the multiple baking steps. It is the artists who have to use their experience and talent to visualize the final color while mixing the paint.

Whew!

Exhibition of Artifacts

meissen porcelain white gold saxony dresden

The museum transports us right through the 300 years of Meissen porcelain’s existence in a few minutes. From chamber pot to show pieces of varying sizes, from smallest possible to life size Saxonia are all being created here? From dinner service to figurines to even radiators we saw a whole gamut of things that are churned out by a few hundred artisans and artists. All handmade.

meissen porcelain white gold saxony dresden

We were later told that the bells of Meissen Cathedral was also made of Meissen Porcelain! We were open-jawed. A porcelain bell? How strong must it be? For us porcelain always broke when hit hard…no?

Some of the pieces were so beautiful and intricate that we were sure that, weight for weight, they would definitely be worth more than gold!

meissen porcelain white gold saxony dresden

Opening Hours:
Monday to Sunday.

1 May to 31 Oct – 9 AM to 6 PM,

1 Nov to 30 Apr 9 AM to 5 PM

Tickets:

Adults Eur 10,

Children and concessions – Eur 6,

Family (2 adults + 2 children) – Eur 23.

There are other ticket options when you combine this with Albrechtsburg.

How to reach:

By car – Take B6 main road

By public transport – Train from Dresden to Meissen and then city bus “C” to Porzellan Manufaktur stop.

Tip: If you happen to be in Saxony during Christmas, don’t miss the Christmas Market in the House of Meissen. And guess what… the entrance is free! 😀

Have you been to Meissen Porcelain Museum? Or any other such Museum? What was your experience?

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Touristy Frankfurt – What to See https://www.lemonicks.com/europe/germany/frankfurt/what-to-see-in-frankfurt-top-things-to-do-guide-itinerary/ https://www.lemonicks.com/europe/germany/frankfurt/what-to-see-in-frankfurt-top-things-to-do-guide-itinerary/#comments Sat, 28 Oct 2017 03:26:53 +0000 https://www.lemonicks.com/?p=20463 It is quite often that we touchdown at Frankfurt only to take-off to another destinations. Frankfurt is perhaps in the middle of the world and offers connectivity to many other parts of the world. It is so much a hub of air travel that I often say jokingly that if you lose your luggage anywhere in the world on an international flight, it will somehow find its way to Frankfurt!

Things to do Frankfurt Itinerary
Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof, the main railway station

We had heard many a people say “There are no things to do in Frankfurt” and move on to other places of our blue … Read the rest

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It is quite often that we touchdown at Frankfurt only to take-off to another destinations. Frankfurt is perhaps in the middle of the world and offers connectivity to many other parts of the world. It is so much a hub of air travel that I often say jokingly that if you lose your luggage anywhere in the world on an international flight, it will somehow find its way to Frankfurt!

Things to do Frankfurt Itinerary
Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof, the main railway station

We had heard many a people say “There are no things to do in Frankfurt” and move on to other places of our blue planet. Our travelling souls would not take that for an answer. There are always some hidden gems and stories to a place. So on our 100+ days epic journey through Europe, nick named #NiVaEuro, we decided to give ourselves a few days in this megacity known for its financial institutions and which is often called “Bankfurt”.
The sights and attraction which we visited were definitely not to be missed. Here, we have charted out an itinerary for you.

Day 1 – Altstadt – Old Town

Romans were here before us! Römerberg

Things to do Frankfurt Itinerary
Römerberg square. The distinctive building in the middle is the medieval Old St Nicholas Church

It is almost like a pilgrimage. One thing everyone wants to visit is Römerberg in Altstadt (old town) and, of course, Römer and guess what? We did too.. :). Loosely translated as the Roman Mountain, Römerberg is the plaza around which is a cluster of old half-timber houses bearing the distinct architecture of that era. The designs on the walls and windows made of wood were so attractive, something we had not seen anywhere else, yet.

what to see in frankfurt, top things to do, perfect guide, itinerary
The iconic Römer, one of the oldest town halls in Germany.


The first Roman settlers in
the first century built their houses and stayed here. Just standing there and thinking about how the residents and the merchants walked the very path we were standing on, is a marvelous sensation. As we imbibed the atmosphere, we saw that the center was a fenced off space which looked like it may have contained a fountain before but nothing there now. On enquiry we found that the fountain of justice was under renovation and would be installed soon.

Things to do Frankfurt Itinerary

What is incredible is that Römer, one of the oldest buildings around Römerberg, has been the town hall of Frankfurt ever since it was sold to the city in the year 1405CE. Even now one could get married in one of the many well decorated rooms and the Mayor of the city has his office here too. Do not miss the Emperor’s hall where coronation banquets used to be held and which could probably be hired for private banquets.

We were told that during Christmas this plaza converts into a Christmas market, something we would love to visit.

Open time: Römer being an office, keeps to office times of 10:00AM to 1:00PM and 2:00PM to 5:00PM.

Ticket : None

How to reach: Nearest U-Bahn station Dom/Römer by U4 and U5.

A view from the top: Bartholomew Cathedral

Things to do Frankfurt Itinerary
Main River and North Side Buildings. The big tower on the right belongs to Frankfurt Cathedral
Things to do Frankfurt Itinerary
Dom Romer, Frankfurt

We were awestruck on seeing the imposing 90 meter tower of the cathedral which has its origin in the 7th century. Frankfurt cathedral, as it is also called, is one of the most important religious places of Frankfurt. The importance is firstly because this used to be the coronation cathedral for the Holy Roman Emperors for 230 years during the renaissance period. This event used to take place at the skull altar. Secondly the pieces of skull of the Apostle Bartholomew is rumored to be kept here. The Cathedral was destroyed and rebuilt a few times during its life. However, during WW2 it was lucky not be destroyed completely and it was reconstructed in a few years.

For us an equally interesting part was to climb the 300+ steps to the observation gallery, at a height of 66 meters and have a spectacular aerial view of Frankfurt city and its river. Be warned of the bells that, when they toll, are very loud inside the tower! It was a great idea to have a bird’s eye view of the town before we embarked on exploring it further.

If you are lucky, you may even catch an organ concert at the cathedral!

Open time : The tower is open only during summer from 09:00AM to 6:00PM.

Ticket : 3.5 Euros for the tower

How to reach: Nearest U-Bahn station – Dom/Römer by U4 and U5.

St Paul Church

When we first saw the round part of the building we were curious to find out what it was. More than 200 years old, this roundish church was the venue of the first parliament of Frankfurt, when the citizens elected their legislative members 1848.

Things to do Frankfurt Itinerary
St Paul church, Paulskirche in German

We could see that the round shape of the hall rendered it the most appropriate place for a parliament, a place where all the people can hear the speaker. It is not an active church anymore.

Things to do Frankfurt Itinerary
This is a World War 2 memorial for all the victims of holocaust. The names of all the concentration camps are engraved below the statue.

Outside on Berlin Street (Berliner Strasse) there was an odd looking statue. The looks and the action was so horrible that we thought it was the devil himself and were thinking what an odd place for such a statue. A closer look told that it was not the devil but that of the victim of the devil of the twentieth century. The hands were tied, the sunken eyes told stories of dreadful atrocities. This was a memorial for all the victims of concentration camps that existed in Europe before and during WW2.

Open time: 10:00AM to 5:00PM

Ticket: None

How to reach: Nearest U-Bahn station Dom/Römer by U4 and U5 or U-Bahn station Hauptwache U1, U2, U3, U6, U8

Goethehaus

Things to do Frankfurt Itinerary
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe lived here

Talking of the devil, a few minutes-walk took us to the house of the playwright who wrote the play Faust. The play, many of us will remember, is about Faust who makes a deal with the devil and so on and so forth. The movie Devil’s Advocate is loosely based on this.

Things to do Frankfurt Itinerary
Goethehaus, Frankfurt

The Goethehaus was the place where Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was born. The street was quite narrow and for us to imagine rich people stayed here was a testimony that the value systems have changed drastically. This house changed hands many times until its last owner, the citizens’ foundation, converted it into a tribute to the son of the soil. This house was rebuilt after WW2 bombings. This and another modern building next door constitutes the Goethe House and Museum which contains rare paintings from his time and also, what we enjoyed most, artifacts owned or used by Goethe.

Things to do Frankfurt Itinerary
Vasu, Nisha and Goethe who is just a shadow of his esteemed self!

If you speak German then you are in luck. In the afternoon there is guided tour in German.

Open time: 10:00AM to 6:00PM Mon-Sat,
10:00AM to 6:00PM on Sun

Ticket: 7 Euros

How to reach: Nearest S-Bahn /U-Bahn station Hauptwache S1, S2, S3, S4. S5, S6, S8, U1, U2, U3, U6, U7, U8

Rathenauplatz

Things to do Frankfurt Itinerary
Open air exhibition of the Jewish sports persons persecuted by the Nazi at Rathenauplatz

Goethe’s statue is located on the south side of this square. The square is otherwise empty. However, on several occasions there may be an open air exhibition on various themes.

Things to do Frankfurt Itinerary
Helene Mayer, the jewish fencing champion, moved to the States during the Nazi period

We were lucky to catch the exhibition of Jewish Sports people who had represented Germany until 1933 and later persecuted by the Nazis. These larger than life sports heroes in action are made of Plexiglas is quite tough to bear the vagaries of weather.

Open time: 24-by-7 outdoor exhibition

Ticket: free

How to reach: Nearest S-Bahn /U-Bahn station Hauptwache S1, S2, S3, S4. S5, S6, S8, U1, U2, U3, U6, U7, U8

Alte Oper at Opernplatz

Things to do Frankfurt Itinerary
Alte Oper, Old Opera building

The old opera house of Frankfurt is situated at the Opera Square or Opernplatz. This striking building was constructed in 1880 and was completely destroyed during WW2. Due to popular demand this was built again in 1981 to host important concerts.

We could see Goethe and Mozart adorning the façade. It is not permitted to enter the Opera House unless you have the tickets for the performance.

Things to do Frankfurt Itinerary
Apfelwein festival at Opera Square with the majestic old opera building in the background

We were quite lucky to catch the surprise event outside on the square. This was the Opernplatz festival but we like to call it the Apfelwein festival. It looked as if they were waiting as this “feast for the palate” started on the day we arrived. 🙂 We got to taste so many varieties of Apfelwein or Apple cider, occasionally mixed with other fruits, and were really top of the world (so we thought). To accompany the drinks there were many snacks to explore and there was also a live band belting songs in German and English.

This was not even a weekend and we could see a crowds of people were in their formals, probably coming here straight from office. Wow! German’s know how to live it up!

Things to do Frankfurt Itinerary
Alte Oper, Old Opera in the evening

How to reach: Nearest S-Bahn station Taunusanlage S1, S2, S3, S4. S5, S6, S8, S9 and Nearest U-Bahn station Alte-Oper U6, U7.

Main Tower

Things to do Frankfurt Itinerary
The 200M high Main tower is home to top companies of the world. Photo credit : #Visitfrankfurt

It was a fitting end to the day when we climbed the Main tower observation deck at 200Meters to look down at the Frankfurt we’d just visited. It was great fun trying to identify the structures and places we had visited during the day.

Things to do Frankfurt Itinerary
Aerial view of Frankfurt. Photo credit : #Visitfrankfurt

There are also options of watching the city while having food in the restaurant or even exercising in their fitness club on 53rd and 54th floor.

For those interested in art, there is an art exhibition at the foyer level, which we gave a miss.

Open time :
Summer – 10:00AM to 9:00PM Sun-Thu, 10:00AM to 11:00PM Fri-Sat
Winter – 10:00AM to 7:00PM Sun-Thu, 10:00AM to 9:00PM Fri-Sat

Ticket : 7.5 Euros (20% discount with Frankfurt Card)

How to reach: Nearest S-Bahn station Taunusanlage S1, S2, S3, S4. S5, S6, S8, S9 and Nearest U-Bahn station Willy Brandt Platz U1, U2, U3, U4, U5, U8

Day 2 onwards

Palmengarten, the botanical garden with a difference

Things to do Frankfurt Itinerary
The almost 150 years old Palmengarten is botanical garden, picnic place and public entertainment place rolled into one. Photo credit : #Visitfrankfurt

Translating to Garden of Palm trees, Palmengarten is one of the biggest botanical garden of Germany. It started as a private garden with shows from US and other parts being held here till Frankfurt took it over in 1931.
The version we were visiting was the brand new Palmengarten, rebuilt after being ravaged in WW2.

Things to do Frankfurt Itinerary
climatized enclosures for tropical plants in Palmengarten. Photo credit : #Visitfrankfurt

It is situated opposite to another huge Botanical Garden of Goethe University. We could see that it was a big hit with families with children spending warm days here picnicking, boating and generally playing. There were also climatized areas for tropical plants and trees proving the right ambience for their health.

Open time:
Feb to Oct – 9:00AM to 6:00PM
Nov to Jan – 9:00AM to 4:00PM

Ticket: 7 Euros

How to reach: Nearest U-Bahn station Westend U6, U7

Main River, Eiserner Steg and Waterfront jaunts

Things to do Frankfurt Itinerary
Eiserner Steg, Frankfurt

Frankfurt’s full name is Frankfurt am Main meaning Frankfurt on the river Main. So no visit to the city is complete without a stroll at the waterfront. The river was not very wide but the flow was quite fast. While walking along the waterfront, we reached a bridge called, very aptly, the Iron Bridge or the Eiserner Steg.

what to see in frankfurt, things to do, guide, itinerary
Love Locks galore on the Iron Bridge or Eiserner Steg, Frankfurt

It looks like an ordinary iron bridge but once you are onto it, you see lovers have converted this into a love-lock bridge. Locks of various shapes, sizes and colors could be found here, in line with the romantic tradition of Europe. Write or scratch the names on the lock and lock it and throw the key into the river. We were, naturally reminded of the fate of the Love-lock Bridge or Pont des Arts in Paris.

If the weather is good then one could choose from various cruise options by Primus-Linie. However when we went it was raining and quite cold and windy.

Things to do Frankfurt Itinerary
Mainhattan , a cluster of high rise buildings.

From the other side (South side) of the bridge one could see Manhattan …ooops Mainhattan! The high rise building cluster is clearly visible exhibiting the modernity surrounded by the various parts of the old city.

Open time: 24-by-7 – outdoor

Ticket: Free

How to reach: Nearest U-Bahn station Dom/Römer by U4 and U5.

Museumsufer, cluster of museums

Do you love museums? Worry not, Frankfurt has many of them! The so called museum embankment is located on the South bank of Main River.

Things to do Frankfurt Itinerary
German Architecture Museum , Frankfurt . Photo credit : #Visitfrankfurt

The museum district, has about twelve museums within few hundred meters! So for those die-hard museum fans this place would be the perfect landing place to spend a day or two. From Art, history, cultural, architecture to ancient sculpture the district covers a wide variety of themes.

Every year there is a Museum Embankment Cultural festival held at this very place. We missed the 2017 version as we had already left Frankfurt by then. In 2018 the dates are 24th to 26th August.

Opening times

German Architecture Museum: 11:00AM to 6:00PM
Museum of World Culture: 11:00AM to 6:00PM
Museum of applied arts: 10:00AM to 6:00PM
European Icons Museum: 11:00AM to 5:00PM
German Film Museum: 10:00AM to 6:00PM
Staedtl Museum: 10:00AM to 6:00PM
LieBieghaus Sculpture Museum: 10:00AM to 6:00PM
Portikus: 11:00AM to 6:00PM
Museum Giersch: 10:00AM to 6:00PM
Jewish Museum: 10:00AM to 6:00PM
Museum of History: 11:00AM to 7:00PM

*The above museums themselves are expected to take 3 to 4 days or even more if you visit each one of them.

How to reach: Nearest U-Bahn station Scweizerplatz by U1, U2, U3 and U8

Schaumainkai Flohmarkt (Flea Market)

Not to be missed is also Frankfurt’s biggest flea market that springs up along the river on the very street where these museums are located. It is held on every Saturday except if it falls on a holiday. Sometimes you may find that particular article or antique you have always been wanting to buy is waiting for you. There are also snack stalls should you be hungry after all that shopping.

Open time: 9:00AM to 2:00PM

How to reach: Nearest U-Bahn station Scweizerplatz by U1, U2, U3 and U8

Where to stay

Frankfurt, being a financial hub, has a plethora of hotels to choose from. From basic hostels to 5 star hotels, from boutique hotels to business hotels, catering to all budgets.
We stayed in Aparthotel Adagio, part of Accor group of hotels. The reason was simple. It was an apartment and breakfast was included. We could do some basic cooking when we felt like. There was enough space to spread our things as we were staying there for a few days.
Also, quite importantly, the tram stop was just 50 metres away and we were only 3 stops away from the main station, Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof (HBF).

How to travel – Frankfurt Card

Things to do Frankfurt Itinerary
Frankfurt card valid for 2 days

The best way to travel from place to place within the city is to buy a 1-day or 2-day Frankfurt Card. The start date to be endorsed on the reverse. The benefits far outweigh the cost of the card. Even more so if you are group of up to 5 adults. You can get a group card for the price of 2 adult Frankfurt cards !

Prices:
1 day Frankfurt card – 10.50 Euros 2 days card – 15.50 Euros
1 day group card – 20.50 Euros 2 days group card – 30.50 Euros
*The group card is valid for 5 persons travelling together.

Benefits:
* Unlimited travel by public transport by buses, trams, S-Bahn and U-Bahn within the city districts and also to Frankfurt Airport.
* 10% to 50% discounts on the ticket prices of various attractions, discounts at participating restaurants and stores. For details click https://www.frankfurt-tourismus.de/en/Information-Planning/Frankfurt-Card

There are so many things to see and do in Frankfurt that we could have filled a few more days very easily.

There are also a lot of things once could do around Frankfurt, which we will write about later.

Have you been to Frankfurt? What was your experience?

You like it? You Pin it!

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Lost and Found in Valparai https://www.lemonicks.com/asia/india/valparai/lost-found-valparai/ https://www.lemonicks.com/asia/india/valparai/lost-found-valparai/#comments Wed, 27 Sep 2017 05:40:06 +0000 https://www.lemonicks.com/?p=20209 We meet many people on the road, both locals and travelers alike who help us in time of need or distress without expecting a return. Last week of every month I bring you stories from travelers who have experienced kindness on the road and like to share and spread it for the love of travel.

This month’s story has come from India’s Divyakshi Gupta who takes us to Valparai. Getting lost in a forest is something I don’t want to even think of. Let us see what she has to say about it.
Over to Divyakshi Gupta.
= = … Read the rest

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We meet many people on the road, both locals and travelers alike who help us in time of need or distress without expecting a return. Last week of every month I bring you stories from travelers who have experienced kindness on the road and like to share and spread it for the love of travel.

This month’s story has come from India’s Divyakshi Gupta who takes us to Valparai. Getting lost in a forest is something I don’t want to even think of. Let us see what she has to say about it.
Over to Divyakshi Gupta.
= = = = =
It was nearing dusk and we were on our way to explore the forests of Valparai. This was my chance to see the lion tailed macaque and I was so excited.
Birds chirped endlessly as we rode on the curves. The forest canopy was thick and the driver seemed to know where we were going. Immersed in the beauty of the South western ghats, I looked out of the window, not wanting to miss even a second of this therapy.

We were a group of five nature enthusiasts and there was cheerful banter, exchange of wish lists of sightings we wanted to see. Our guide was supposed to meet us at a pre decided spot and we were going for an hour long walk in the off beat forest trails of Valparai known for its elephants, birds, barking deer and the elusive leopard.

I was particularly interested in the Hornbill and looked forward to this exploration since many days.
The vehicle came to a halt and we waited for our guide.

Five minutes became ten. Ten became twenty. This is when the warning bells went off in our minds and we guessed something is amiss.

The driver (not a local) was unperturbed. While we made frantic phone calls to ask the guide where he was, he calmed us down and said he knows the way and he’ll take us to the spot where we can hop off the vehicle and do the trail ourselves.

roads in monsoon in uttarakhand

Without thinking we say yes to him and off we go on the curves again. The forest is denser and the canopy thicker. Soon we are truly in nature’s lap (Read: no network zone) and to be honest, I get this sinking, something -is-not -going-right feeling.

We are dropped somewhere. ( not a person in sight) In my nervousness and anxiety, I cannot help but notice the astounding scenery around me. Straight out of Jungle book, with the cicadas singing and birds going home, chirping happily.

We walked along the stretch of the road and back and then thought its best to stick together whichever direction we go.
And then someone spotted a Malabar thrush and all the birders lost it. We chased the bird as it flew from branch to branch and tree to tree.

Then we turned, deciding unanimously that we should go back to the vehicle and not venture further into the forest. Only to find that we had actually ventured a little too far and now every curve seemed that curve and every left turn lead to a similar clearing.

The sun had begun to set and fear crept in. We realised we were only going round and round in circles and with no network it was impossible to get help.

Scary thoughts circled my head and I tried to keep calm and not think of anything negative. While another part of my head cursed myself for not reasoning.
Ten minutes later we saw a local. Heaving a sigh of relief, we rushed to him only to find he couldn’t speak Hindi or English.
None of us knew Tamil and we tried to convey that we are lost. He seemed to understand and told us to wait. He was our only hope and we chose to wait. He returned with a 20 something boy and introduced him as Anand BE, beaming proudly.

We then understood that Anand was the only lad with a BE qualification in their village and he got him to help us.
Anand promptly got to work, asking us where we were staying and how we landed here. After listening to our story he agreed to accompany us to our vehicle and we were relieved!

But then he stopped in his tracks.
“Would you like to see something, now that you have missed your forest walk?”

We looked at each other, not wanting to be in a soup again.
Anand insisted and his earnest enthusiasm persuaded us to follow him. (No other option when you’re lost in a forest).

He said it is just 2 minutes away and off we went. I was starting to get irritated and before I opened my mouth to complain, my jaw dropped.

In front of me were rock pools! I hadn’t seen something so beautiful in a long time.
Anand looked at our expressions with a triumphant grin on his face. “I told you!” he said.

lost found Valparai

The place was heavenly with green waters, fallen tree trunks, absolute silence, not a single human in sight. Like it was hidden away. One of those secret hideaways where Enid Blyton’s stories were based.
I clicked but the pictures didn’t do justice. The place was far more magnificent in real than in photographs. Getting lost was never so much fun.

Anand accompanied us till the
vehicle and honestly if it were not for him, we would probably be lost for good in the forest.

But not only did he help us back but also guided us to a ‘secret’ paradise.
Somewhere deep down in my heart, I felt happy we got lost, only to find this unheard of heaven.

= = = = =
Divyakshi Gupta is a travel blogger and blogs at www.quirkywanderer.com
She is a door lover, a mountain child who adores long road trips. Loves travelling to off beat places to discover new cultures, meet new people, find new stories and in the process, her own self.

You may also want to read some of the earlier posts on the same theme.
Kindness on the Road
Surviving America
Good deed not dead!
Lost and found

If you have been helped by someone during your travels and want to share your story with the world, feel free to connect with me in comments section.

If you want to travel places with us, I suggest you to join us on my Facebook travel page.
P.S.- This article belongs to www.lemonicks.com. Reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited. If you are viewing this on a website instead of your RSS feed reader, then that website is guilty of stealing our content. Kindly do us a favour. Please visit our site and help us taking action by letting us know against this theft. Thank you.

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Chinese Whispers & Dumb Charade https://www.lemonicks.com/asia/china/chinese-whispers-dumb-charades/ https://www.lemonicks.com/asia/china/chinese-whispers-dumb-charades/#comments Mon, 28 Aug 2017 04:40:55 +0000 https://www.lemonicks.com/?p=20172 We meet many people on the road, both locals and travelers alike who help us in time of need or distress without expecting a return. Last week of every month I bring you stories from travelers who have experienced kindness on the road and like to share and spread it for the love of travel.

This month’s story has come from Ajay Sood who takes us to China. It is a kindness story with a twist. 😉 I am sure, Ajay would make you smile or should I say laugh? 😀
Over to Ajay Sood.
= = = = =… Read the rest

The post Chinese Whispers & Dumb Charade appeared first on Lemonicks.

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We meet many people on the road, both locals and travelers alike who help us in time of need or distress without expecting a return. Last week of every month I bring you stories from travelers who have experienced kindness on the road and like to share and spread it for the love of travel.

This month’s story has come from Ajay Sood who takes us to China. It is a kindness story with a twist. 😉 I am sure, Ajay would make you smile or should I say laugh? 😀
Over to Ajay Sood.
= = = = =

While this is a tale of some quirks of fate that took me to Beijing, it is also a story-with-a-funny-twist about genuine help extended by strangers who did not know my language, and about what that ‘help’ landed me into. Come, join me in my journey!

Vault of Heaven option

Vault of Heaven

How destiny took me to Beijing

It was early summer, 2008. My New Zealand trip had fallen through as the unscrupulous travel agent who had connected me to the NZ DMO (New Zealand Destination Marketing Organisation) and had organised my fam, wanted me to influence my wife for her company’s MICE business at screwy terms.

I had already applied for and got my leave sanctioned.

Around then, Beijing was in advanced stages of readiness for the Summer Olympics. Globally, their PR machinery was actively telling the whole world how hospitable and prepared they were.

Together, these circumstances conspired and got me to plan an otherwise unscheduled trip to that city. For me, China, and more specifically Beijing, had always held a mysterious allure!

Beijing and Travelure, the Tourist

I was going to be in Beijing for over a week. Knowing how much the city offered, I chalked out elaborate plans by going through blogs, travel sites, querying knowledgeable people on web forums, and more.

My itinerary included both, the usual and the not-so-usual places of interest – the Forbidden City, Summer Palace, Zoo, Tiananmen Square, Temple of Confucius, Fragrant Hills Park, Beijing Chaoyang Acrobatics Theatre, Great Wall (Mutianyu), Beihai Park, Bell and Drum Tower…

Additionally, I had blocked off a complete half day from sunrise to mid-afternoon for a visit to the Temple of Heaven.

The Temple of Heaven and the centre of the earth

Temple of Heaven

For those who may not know, let me share my reason for earmarking so much time for my visit to this temple. It certainly had nothing to do with the old Chinese belief that the temple was the centre of the earth.

Situated in the heart of Beijing, the Temple of Heaven is approximately four times the size of the Royal Palace (the Forbidden City). It occupies a whopping 2,700,000 sq mt area that is a shade smaller than the 3,410,000 sq mt Central Park in New York. The Chinese ruling dynasties had ensured that the abode of God was much larger than their own humble quarters!

My research had also thrown up that the local Beijing folks used the temple grounds for their morning walks and workouts. Interestingly, these workouts were different from the usual yoga and jogging we may be used to. The diverse workouts included, but were not limited to, the niche martial arts practiced only in South East Asia. Here, Kendo, Tai Chi, Karate, Kick Boxing, Jiujitsu were practiced alongside the more sedate, traditional and graceful fan dance and ballroom dances.

Also, this early fifteenth century UNESCO inscribed temple complex has some architecturally superb structures like the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, the circular mound altar and the Vault of Heaven (Treasury of Heaven).

I primarily wanted to photograph all this action as well as the capture these medieval heritage monuments. So, common sense dictated that I provide myself ample time there.

My day at the Temple


I was excited.
Just before sunrise, I rode a taxi to the Temple Complex’ North Gate. While scores of local folks were walking in freely, I had to wait for the ticket booth guy to give me the ticket and my change.

Tandem workout
A walk with workouts

Once inside, I decided to keep the photography of the heritage structures for later when the light would be better, and instead chose to shoot the morning workouts action first. Like a little child, moving from one green quadrangle to another, I was gleefully capturing the strange, yet precise, routines I was witnessing. The groups of workout-ers represented all age groups. Time flew. Sometime later, a casual glance at my watch told me I had already been there for over 3 hours. It was time for me to move on and shoot the structures!

It was then that I realised the expanse of the complex.

Those days, I used to be naïve and was carrying a ton-load of camera gear. As I made my way from one structure to another, I felt my steps getting heavier. Regardless, I charged on gamely; or at least, till I had this shooting pain making its way up my left leg!

Painful Charade

Chinese whispers & dumb charade
Those kind ball room

Diligence had me complete my planned shoot. By which time, the pain had increased exponentially. I dragged myself towards the nearest exit from the complex – the East Gate. Once there, I stumbled upon this group of ball room dancers and asked them if they could guide me to a pharmacy.

Realising they did not know English (or Hindi, or Punjabi, for that matter), I switched to sign language. I was single-handedly playing dumb charades with the group, which by then had given up their dancing and had gathered around me.

I gestured by contorting my face, pointing towards my aching leg and making hand signs indicating that I needed a pain-relieving spray. Noticing their blank faces, I repeated this act several times. Voila! Suddenly, one of them seemed to understand what I was seeking!

Animatedly, that 50-something Chinese gentleman started giving me directions – hand signs, and a lot of Chinese words. While I was focussing on his direction-providing charade, I noticed some mirth amongst his other group members. Since my pain was acute, I ignored the reactions of his fellow group members and gave all my attention to those complex directions, which broadly asked me to go straight ahead, hit the main road, not take the first left, but turn into the second street on the left, walk about 100-150 mts, go up a four-storey mall to find my destination.

Profusely thanking the entire group and bowing multiple times (I fathomed that was the ritual of thanks to follow in China), I limped away.

Four Floors Up

I followed those directions precisely and found myself facing a dilapidated graying building. The electrical wires hung precariously all around its façade. The signboards in Chinese communicated little to me. In that maze of signage, I tried looking for a green cross – the usual indicator of a pharmacy – but failed miserably.

My excruciating pain settled it all. My only choice was to enter the building, look for an elevator and make my way to the fourth floor. But, as they say, trouble always strikes in ‘threes’. There was no elevator! Language issues, a limp and a lack of elevator were all I needed!

I slowly and painfully climbed to the fourth floor and my worst fears came true. I was not in a pharmacy, but was in the ‘stockings’ section of a rather run-down apparel store. That’s when I figured that acting is definitely not a career option for me. All that those helpful folks could make of my elaborate sign language was that I was looking for ‘stockings’.

Despite my pain, I just couldn’t help smiling! Cheers to the kind people on the road!

PS: Yes. I did find a pharmacy nearby. Yes. Only women manned it. Yes. I asked them to get out, bolted the doors of the pharmacy, took off my jeans and used the spray. Yes, it did relieve the pain!

= = = = =
Ajay Sood (Travelure)
Winner of OSM (Outlook Social Media) Shutterbug of the Year 2016, Ajay shares his travel stories on www.travelure.in. Besides regularly writing for numerous travel and photography magazines, he is an international speaker on travel and architectural photography. On a mission to make destinations desirable, he has already travelled to over 35 countries.

His social media handles are:

Twitter: @TravelureAjay
Instagram: @Travelure
G+: +TravelureInPix
FB: fb.com/travelure
Pinterest: @travelure

You may also want to read some of the earlier posts on the same theme.
Kindness on the Road
Surviving America
Good deed not dead!
Lost and found

If you have been helped by someone during your travels and want to share your story with the world, feel free to connect with me in comments section.

If you want to travel places with us, I suggest you to join us on my Facebook travel page.
P.S.- This article belongs to www.lemonicks.com. Reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited. If you are viewing this on a website instead of your RSS feed reader, then that website is guilty of stealing our content. Kindly do us a favour. Please visit our site and help us taking action by letting us know against this theft. Thank you.

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