Saturday, December 20, 2014

Happy Birthday Kate

Wow...   What a rush the last 24+ hours has been.
As I start this post its been just over 24 hours since our flight departed
San Francisco and it seems like we've packed 3 days into that time.

But lets go back to the beginning and work from there.

Our flight from SFO to FRA was a 747-400
The flight was non stop - about 11 hrs in length.

We had business class tickets
 and were seated on the upper deck of the aircraft.

Upstairs is a much smaller space - only 20 seats and three
flight attendants.

The service was wonderful.

It started with a welcome on-board libation

Once in the air we had warm nuts and more libations.

The meal service began after about 90 minutes in the air,
starting with a Smoked Salmon and mustard dressing,
A fresh Garden Salad with Peppercorn Dressing
And more libations.

My meal was Boneless Beef short Ribs with demi glace
Fresh cooked vegetables and ahi amarillo mashed potatoes.
Everything was quite good and the mashed potatoes were delicious.

Did I mention that we had some cocktails?

The after dinner included a fresh cheese plate....

 followed by the make-your-own Sundae Cart.
Our stewardess is standing in the background (more about her later)

Preferring White Desert Wine - I passed on the Port wine.

I had a simple Fudge - Kate got all jiggly with the Caramel, Fudge,
nuts, and Creme Fraiche.

Then it was time to recline a bit and enjoy the large selection of
movies, TV shows Documentaries, etc on the 15" Screen.

We could even switch on the map and follow our progress.

Just like our last trip to Europe 6 yrs ago - We had obtained a prescription for sleeping 
pills.   The plan was to take one and sack out for the remainder of the trip.

Unlike the last time however - these did not work and neither of us slept a wink.

Oh well - I guess we'll just push thru the day and get a good sleep tonight.
Neither of us suffer from jet lag, so tomorrow we'll be good as gold.

A mid-flight meal service was offered - sandwiches on baguettes, hot drinks and such
but we passed.   Then about 90 minutes before we landed, breakfast
was served.  Omelette, sausage, potatoes, fresh fruit, yogurt etc.

Our flight landed on time and soon we were off the plane walking thru the massive
FRA Airport.  I was searching for the O2 store that sold a sim card for my iPhone, 
and we also needed to find our luggage and rental car counter.

We rounded up our luggage first.
Then we continued heading towards the front of the airport.

As we came out of the Baggage Claim Area Doors we saw a couple about 10 yds
ahead holding up signs with our names on it.
For a brief moment we thought another couple with our name had a limo
service waiting for them - but then realized that our Swiss Friends,
Marcel & Michaela were waiting at the airport for us.

We were not supposed to see them till the 26th!
What a great surprise!   They had driven up 5 hours from Zurich just to
welcome us to Europa.   They are staying in our hotel!

Well...  that great surprise means we are just going to kick it up a notch!

After downing some expressos, we went in search of our rental car.

Upon getting checked in we had another pleasant surprise waiting for us...
Our Audi had been upgraded to a Mercedes Benz.  (our is on the left)

Can this day get any better!


We drove about 20 minutes to the Hotel and got checked in.
The Steigenburger Frankfurter Hof is an amazing 5 star hotel.

I knew it was going to be nice...  I picked it special for Kates Birthday - but wow,
Even I was surprised!

I knew we were in for a real treat when I saw the Bentleys parked at the valet.

A truly great place to unwind after the long flight and recharge.

Our room is huge with all the comforts including a Nespresso
Coffee maker just like we have.
Great coffee in our room.  BONUS.

The bathroom is actually 3 rooms complete with mood lighting,
thermostatically controlled shower, steam room, towel heaters
and a jacuzzi tub.

I can't begin to even describe all of the little touches that
add up to make it one special experience.

The pleasures of luxury cannot be overstated.

Our rest and recharging will have to wait a bit however, because the
Christmas Market is in full swing so we hit the streets in the rain
and made our way over to the market to sample the Glu Wein, Bier,
Wurst, and an assortment of foods and sweets the names of which have escaped me.

Meats cooking over an open fire....   always a good thing!

We ate meats cooked over an open fire. :-)

The Christmas Markets have been going on for about 800 years and
are in many of the German Cities.  We will still visit 2 more as we journey onward.
The original purpose was for merchants and farmers to bring goods to market.
Now it seems to be more of a traditional celebration of life, friendship, and culture.

A seemingly endless array of confections can be found.
These are a soft creamy filling (like a mallomar cookie but fluffier) with a wafer base,
covered with a white, milk, or dark chocolate.

They are pretty to look at and delicious to eat.

After spending the afternoon at the markets we came back to the hotel to
rest and shower before dinner.

To our surprise, the Hotel had learned that today was Kates Birthday
and they had a birthday card and this box waiting in the room for us.

Inside the box was this delicious birthday cake.

As you can see...  we got into it before I was able to snap a photo.

When using the hotel systems - all the instructions are automatically in
English since they know it is our native language..  no need to ask.

It's all in the details...     What a great place!

For dinner we headed out on foot a couple of miles from the hotel to this great
little restaurant serving wonderful German Food.
The hotel made our reservations for us.

Our path to the restaurant took us back thru the Weinachtsmarkt,
but now darkness had brought out all the great lights and gave it
a magical glow.   The only thing missing was snow.

Arriving at the restaurant they made us feel like family.
The sweet smells of German comfort food cooking filled the air.

We started off with a refreshing Champagne cocktail that had a touch of
syrup and a mint leave in it.   It really was quite good.

After soup and salads it was time for the main course.

Kate and Michaela had  Wienerschitzel

Marcel and I Schweinshaxe - a Pork Knuckle
that is roasted till the skin is crispy and the meat fork tender.

We accompanied it with a dark locally brewed Christmas Beer.

The meal was served family style with roasted potatoes and onions.

The place was a tiny nondescript out to the way place.
The type the only the locals know.
The meal was superb and the company of friends divine!

After we had finished dinner and were chatting we heard Kate off in the distance
Yacking it up and laughing with someone.
We all agreed that if we don't fetch her we could be here all night so.....
So we pick up all the coats and headed in her direction...

Sure enough - she had found one of the ladies who was our flight attendant on
last nights flight (from the photo up top)  and they were having a time of it!

Leave it to Katie...
Only she, can run into people that she knows anywhere in the world!

We then walked back to the hotel thru the now much more quiet streets - the
Weinachtsmarkt had closed for the night and the vendors were quietly cleaning up
and preparing for tomorrows re-opening.

At the hotel we had some coffee and a slice of Kates birthday cake
and then called it a night.

This was the nightcap to a long but absolutely perfect day.

I think this was a birthday celebration for Kate that is going to be hard for me to beat.


  1. OMG!;That is fantastic as so well documented and shared. I love it. I need you to plan an anniversary trip to German for us. Outstanding job!!!!! You both are amazing.

  2. Wow, I want to go there. (Let's see you beat that next year)

  3. All I can say is WOW WOW WOW!!! Very impressive. Great story. Are ya sure you can come back and head to the Q and be happy? And, maybe I missed it, how old did you say Kate just turned. Looking forward to meeting up and hearing some great stories.


  4. Happy Birthday Kate! Hope you guys have a great trip!! Love Sue B

  5. Hey Birthday Girl, wish we could be there with you. It looks and sounds amazing. Greg thanks for such a wonderful tag a long.

    Love ya bunches.


  6. Glad to hear your vacation is starting on such a positive note and Happy Birthday to Katie!

  7. Happy birthday Kate!! Girl, you celebrated in STYLE!! I loved everything about everything, from the plane to the birthday cake. Enjoy your time in Germany!


  8. Certainly a birthday for our Kate to remember! Wow! What a beautiful hotel. Greg you have outdone yourself with this celebration! How wonderful that your friends surprised you, too. We look forward to more exciting blog posts from this trip!

    Hugs to the birthday girl!


We love to hear from you... Please leave us a comment and let us know you are reading. If there is something that you'd like to hear about please let us know. Thanks for visiting!