When I first moved to Frankfurt, Germany, I wanted to see everything in Europe on a budget! The best way to travel is by train. There are the local trams, the Regional trains, and the ICE or Inter City Express high-speed trains. Each train has a very well-organized process and it helps to have it quickly explained. For instance, once you purchase your ICE ticket, how do you know where to get on the train to find your seat?
This short video below shows you how to quickly find out!
The morning of my flight from Johannesburg, South Africa to Frankfurt, Germany I started an earnest sinus infection/summer cold. Here’s what I did right and what I would change if I had to do it all over again…
This is what worked well:
Scheduled 24-hour layover in new hotel
Hall’s cough drops in a carry-on bag
Advil in a carry-on bag
Z-pack antibiotics (proactively prescribed from fantastic nurse practitioner)
Giant bottle of water to take on the plane
Best carry-on bag design
Shopping in airport
What I would change:
Type of hotel
Should have been located near some restaurants
So, I stayed at a sister brand hotel– it was really new, and really cute. Hip. Trendy. Lower cost. Here’s why:
No in-room coffee
No executive lounge
No room service
No wi-fi in room
I learned on this trip just how spoiled I am with a full-service hotel, meaning the big, full service with a restaurant, a snack room, an executive lounge, room service, coffee-at-will in my room. In these big hotels, I can work in the room, in the lounge, in the lobby, but in these trendy scaled down hotels, it is designed for a different crowd. Folks who have kids, don’t work from their room, are not spending any time in their room except to shower and to sleep.
So, I dragged myself around the coffee bar/check-in a few times during the day, looking so pathetic, the guest manager/clerk helped me microwave my soup, find the spoons, and made me coffee. I ended up sleeping throughout the day and night, recovering from the crud that had ushered me out of Africa.
Note: I have found incredible hospitality at the hotels that I have stayed at — caring people, ready to help. Because I have been a road warrior, I have had several instances of being quite ill during my stays throughout the United States and Europe. Here’s a shout out to every room service person who helped me with hot water and lemon, disinfecting the bathroom [don’t ask], the folks in the restaurant who prescribed lime juice with salt for my throat so I could deliver training to a crowd, and proceeded to procure it for me from the kitchen, and I could go on…Everyone at these places deserves to be treated kindly and with respect. I love you all in the hospitality industry!!!!
Shout out to the room decor designers! This is what I was waking up to when I was so sick in Frankfurt, Germany at the Moxy Hotel.
I really love good socks. I L-O-V-E socks. Everyone gets socks from me in their Christmas stockings, I look at socks online, in stores, and at booths, and I talk about socks all of the time. I really love quality socks. I know that a lot of people like funky designs on their socks and I like that too, but a well-engineered sock gets me excited!
A well-engineered sock has features–features that solve problems. After all, socks were invented to solve problems, right? Socks were invented to keep your foot from blistering in your shoes, as well as keeping your shoes from dying a pitiful, uncleanly death from foot perspiration.
A poorly-engineered sock is truly irritating, both literally and figuratively. Poorly-engineered socks have caused many toddler meltdowns from my oldest son who is now 34 years old, and I am still suffering PTSD over one of those episodes. They also twist on your feet while you are walking, or they slip down under your heel. They also make your foot uncomfortable because they are too small, or too large. The yarn that they are woven with might suddenly break, creating holes. The type of yarn might not provide breatheability, or warmth. The weight of the yarn as well as the pattern of the sock might be too thin, or too thick.
You can see that we don’t give sock designer-engineers enough thanks. A perfectly engineered sock should come in sizes — Germany does that particularly well. I can get a sock that is just right for my foot, for my husband’s foot, and my giant-of-a-middle son’s foot. I can’t easily do that in the U.S.
The U.S. does have an excellent wool sport sock that is washable and durable. I do absolutely love this brand of socks, and I in no way have been compensated to feature this brand. I love this brand because of how well it is engineered. After I sat on the plane next to a designer for this brand, I really started believing in this brand. It is a pricey sock for the average person, however, these socks are durable, comfortable, and convenient to use. All of those factors reduce the overall cost of this sock. The brand is local to Coloradoans, it is sold at Nordstrom as well as from their own boutiques and online. It is Smart Wool — the perfect name for this product.
I hurt my foot over a week ago here in South Africa, where it is winter, and chilly, and uncomfortable. Part of healing my foot is wearing my comforting Smart Wool socks. They provide support, warmth, and since I purchased them in happy colors and designs, they lift my spirits a little. Also, these socks aren’t the thick wool socks that won’t fit into your shoes. These socks fit, stretch, and launder. I have many other socks that I love, and maybe I will write about them — especially my cotton athletic socks from Germany. But right now, I am grateful for my comfy wool socks.
P.S. I will debrief my 5-week packing for this trip when I get home. Lessons learned and successes to celebrate!
Goal: two cities, five weeks, one suitcase (must weigh less than 50 lbs to win)
So, added to last week’s styles are sturdy clothes for winter in Johannesburg, with excursions to see lions, leopards, Victoria Falls (on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe), and I hope to see some elephants, rhinos, giraffes, and zebras as well as all manner of springbok and other deer. I will still be working and trying to find some great candid photos of some of the life in South Africa.
It all fits! And I weighed the bag on my digital scale — 24 lbs! Of course, that is before beauty products. This exercise is helping me with my packing anxiety. At least for the short term.
So, for my trip to Frankfurt, and then the next four weeks in Joburg, I have added layers. Here’s the bullet list:
Cargo pants, heavy weight and ready to be destroyed
Camouflage print pants
African wax print skirt
Vintage yellow polo sweater
Olive lightweight wool sweater
White thin cotton turtleneck
Metallic tank sweater
White rain shell
Black flip flops
Olive drab jacket with “flair”
Three scarves, one cotton gingham, one rayon, one polyester (all white background, with black and a hint of accent color)
I think that I might be doing at least one more adjustment…
Week 1 Frankfurt, Germany: Build around Brooks, Ltd. LoDo Shirt
This is the second blog planning my packing list for travel to Frankfurt, then on to Johannesburg, South Africa. I am using my inspiration shirt, named after Denver’s Lower Downtown, hence the ‘LoDo’ part of the shirt description. LoDo is where Brooks, Ltd. atelier is located and is also the part of town you see college students, out-of-towners, and business folks mingling together at restaurants and venues.
I might have mentioned that I have “packing anxiety” and that has driven me to plan this trip well in advance. So, I am testing out my one-suitcase bullet wardrobe plan, beginning with five ways to wear the LoDo shirt while working, drinking kaffee, and shopping in Frankfurt, Germany. Oh, and I should tell you, I am going to be eating like a German foodie.
Here’s the bullet list for 5 choices for the first week of five weeks on the road:
Lilac cotton zip-front LoDo shirt, that doubles as a lightweight jacket
Navy slim-legged pants (J. Crew)
Silk floral shell — vintage from the 80s
White lightweight cotton turtleneck (think of the movie ‘Something’s Gotta Give’)
Black vintage Chanel Logo T-shirt (best all around T-shirt ever)
Black ballet neck tea-length dress
Black waterproof loafers (Hunter)
Black logo tennis shoes (Coach)
Silk print scarf
Rhinestone necklace (J. Crew)
These five choices easily fit into the suitcase with plenty of room for next week’s challenge– 4 weeks in Johannesburg!
Managing time apart from my husband, partner, best-friend is work. Emotional work. Slogging through the day, remembering to build in those activities and behaviors that feed into a positive aloneness takes effort. I have to think about how I am taking care of myself. Hence the hashtag #hyggetaughtme, see Instagram for my attempts at self-hygge.
However, once the airline ticket is purchased, the emotional work seems to lighten! It’s easier, knowing that travel adventures are just around the corner! My best friend and hubby-boy is absolutely the best travel companion–he was a History major–and loves to do research. As we visit each place, he talks about historical events and figures, as well as cultural interests while I scout out local food, art, and museums. So, now to the style factor and…Let the packing anxiety/excitement begin! (Breathe in, breathe out!)
Let’s start with a list of activities in Frankfurt, Germany:
Walking on cobblestones
Having kaffee und kuchen with friends (everyday)
Walking through the park, riding the U-bahn
Eating out in the evening
Museum (Natural History, Modern Art)
Walking by the river
List activities in Johannesburg, South Africa:
Visit wild animal parks
Go to markets
Find reasonably safe food to eat and still feel like we belong on the Food Network
Next list the weather:
Frankfurt in June = Seattle in June
Johannesburg in June/July
Now how to pack one suitcase for two cities for over one month…Hmmmm….first attempt. Here’s the bullet list:
African wax print skirt (authentic African Wax Print produced in Holland)
Yellow vintage polo
Yellow/Gray/White/Black print knit skirt
Camouflage pants (doesn’t really camouflage hips like I hoped)
Cargo pocket pants (for animals to destroy)
White cotton men’s s/s shirt
White rain shell
Charcoal wool sweater
Heather gray cotton v-neck sweater
Green felt hat
Rain coat, leopard print
Linen Blazer, cream, black trim
Purple/Mauve/Pink Ikat Print (not authentic, I can assure you)
Sometimes you want to take a whirlwind trip–it’s just time to hit several priority spots and you don’t have time to leisurely explore. That’s okay! You can accomplish the list below in three days–drive Friday from Frankfurt to Munich, walk around, eat dinner at the Hofbrau Haus. Go back to the hotel and enjoy the hot shower! Saturday, drive to Neuschwanstein and hike up to the castle! Eat lunch while enjoying an incredible view and pick up some souvenirs. Hop back into the car and drive to Garmisch. Drive through a 15 minute section of road that is in Austria, and pop back into Germany. Breathe in the incredible beauty of the alps and the alpine air. Check into the hotel and eat dinner out! Next morning, go up to Zugspitze, the highest peak in Germany, and wear your hiking shoes! Buy a pretzel, cross over into Austria again, feed the birds, hike some more, and buy souvenirs. Get a stamp (in your passport if you have it with you) of Zugspitze! End the active morning with a lunch at Berggasthof Almhutte with a comforting potato soup with vegetables and then have the Kirschbeutel (which you have to wait for–they don’t serve sweets until after 2:00 p.m. on Sunday). Oh, and the four cups of whipped cream are not sweetened.
The priority spots for us were:
Almhutte at the Berggasthof
Here’s the bullet wardrobe list that plans for temps from 58 – 80 degrees F. with sun, clouds, rain, wind:
Black cushy walking tennis shoes
Birkenstocks to wear in the car
Stretchy comfortable easy-to-hike-in jeans
Three scarves–black, cotton print, Edelweiss print neckerchief (must look touristy)
Rain layer — very lightweight, leopard print to up my game in Munich
Wear linen dress/tunic over knee covering leggings
Sweatshirt or sweater
White button down shirt
Off white peasant shirt
And that fits in a small suitcase with beauty and Rx necessities.
Being over 50 has some new guidelines for what is necessary to take on a long weekend for beauty & Rx medicine categories. Here is a bullet wardrobe reminder of what I “need” to be comfortable on a long weekend–that still comfortably fits into my one small suitcase. I rely on travel sized items, beauty samples, and premiums–those nice little extras that come with a cosmetic purchase. I also rely on my favorite brands and their special travel-sized, age/skin-type related items–I usually purchase some as I see the kits available, as well as ask for some as a gift idea every year! My go to is Clinique–the comfort of knowing how it smells (or doesn’t smell) as well as how my skin feels when I use it makes it part of my travel routine. You will see that I use many other brands for other “must-have” items, but I always come back to Clinique for the foundation of my skin care routine.
Here’s the bullet wardrobe reminder list:
Eye makeup remover
Serum (only the small format bottle, the larger serum stays at home)
Moisturizer with Sunscreen for daytime
Sunscreen, sensitive skin
Eye primer (Urban Decay)
Eye shadow set (usually just one, but sometimes two–I will use any brand with the right combination)
Eyebrow pencil (found a great version for salt and pepper haircolor–Bobby Brown!)
Urban Decay 24 hour makeup setting spray (only brand I use and it is a lifesaver, since I use layers of moisturizer around my eyes)
Blush, cream stick in perfect neutral for me
Zambeezi lip Balm (favorite brand)
Lip color, gloss, stick in my wear everywear neutral (find your perfect neutral–don’t use someone else’s–because then it’s not perfect on You!)
Brushes, cotton balls, cotton swabs (Q-tips, because I wouldn’t know what a cotton swab was)
Extra washcloth or two (I can’t tell you how many times I wanted an extra washcloth and couldn’t seem to get one from housekeeping at midnight, or in a pensione sometimes they are really rough)
Hairspray (I only like Dove right now)
Small travel size shampoo & conditioner (just in case they provide a pump of all-in-one gel in the shower)
Spare bobby pins, hair comb (just in case need to put hair up and look a little more “evening”)
Aloe Vera gel, with lidocaine (good for more than the occasional sunburn!)
Disposable wipes for whatever needs wiping (door knobs, toilet seats, hands) or many times, if I don’t need the antiseptic element, I use wet paper towels in a zip lock bag–better for the environment, your health, etc.
Black Electrical Tape– This is my best secret essential! For people with light sensitivity–inevitably, I am kept awake by the blinking smoke detector light positioned right over “my side” of the bed, or other LED lights that unfortunately, cause migraines
It all fits nice and neat in the usual bags. This is not for carry on bags! We have been traveling by train and car to our destinations, and I have had to check my bag when I fly, due to the small size of the airplanes. So there has been little to no need to do the extra work of a carry-on plan here in Europe. I will do a break down and show a carry-on Beauty & Rx in a later blog post.
Traveling to Berlin for a weekend had me solving the weather problem: rainy, humid, hot, sunny, and chilly, and windy– all in the course of three days. On top of that, it was my 16th anniversary, so I knew that at least one nice dinner was on the itinerary. Other than a nice dinner, we planned to go to museums, see a memorial to fallen Russian soldiers, see the Berlin Tiergarten Siegessaeule, a monument honoring victories in the “unification” wars. We also planned on seeing Charlottenburg Palace, and hopping a bus over to Potsdam to wander around Sans Souci, built by Friedrich the Great inspired by Versailles. In addition, we couldn’t see Berlin without going to the Helmut Newton museum. So, comfortable shoes were a must — there was so much walking on cobblestones, dirt paths, steps, and streets.
Here’s my bullet wardrobe reminder. I followed prevailing fashion advice, neutrals–white, gray, black–with one predominant accent color–petal pink. After all, it was my anniversary and I certainly wanted to look light and feminine, summery and happy! Additionally, I wore some beautiful Alexis Bittar jewelry that my hubby had purchased for me a few years ago.
Rain windbreaker: packable, white
Trenchcoat: short, pink, not super waterproof
Dress: pewter, lightweight, comfortable, nice enough for most restaurants
Jeans: black motorcycle
T-shirt: floral, Balmain
Tank: floral, charcoal
Sneakers: white converse
Walking cross trainers: black and white
Scarves: microfiber pastel print, pink mesh, linen white print
Vintage accessory: charm bracelets
A few Berlin highlights: There is a street called Strasse Juni 17th — so if that is your Anniversary date–it’s perfect to celebrate on that street, on that date.
Strasse Juni 17th looking at the Seugessaeule, or Victory Memorial. There was a bicycle race that day, Juni 17th!
The Reichstag — the German capitol building with the flag flying in the wind!