Layovers in general suck. They are usually either too short and hectic or too long and boring. The expensive temptations of the airport mixed with the whole range of unhappy and stressed travelers just seems to create an environment that I one day wish to improve through architecture.
I had a 10 hour layover at the Frankfurt airport, and it was great. It was also done by design. I arrived and quickly headed for the DB train to the city where I was excited to speak German and eat some sweet food.
The point at which it occurred to me that I was actually in Germany in oppose to anywhere in the US was when I saw one of those charismatic German street signs, rounded ad blue in the DIN typeface. It was like a welcoming sight, offering a guidance to where the city wants me to go.
I roamed the city with my basic knowledge of the layout (basically assuming the direction to the river, which was actually behind me) for a few hours. It was a bittersweet introduction to my arrival since it was pouring and I hadn't a jacket. The first thing I did was roam to a H&M where I picked up a nice thin overcoat that will do well. I then headed out and into the city, taking photos of the German architectural details still standing proud among a sea of newer and cosmopolitan-modern buildings.
I found myself at the cathedral and wandered in, listened to a tour guide for a while then just took a seat and took it in.
After spending some time chill in in the church, I headed out and it stopped raining for a bit. I walked along the Main river and checked out the boats and bridges before finding a need for some food.
The place I chose to eat was actually a unique coincidence, I just wandered or derived into the city, and found myself entering a large department store building. The top level had a nice lookout that I climbed to. Once at the top, I saw a door and some kids chilling with a view. I went outside, grabbed some pics and saw a restaurant that looked way to fancy for a layover visitor but it ended up being a sweet cafeteria. I hit up a beer and some bratwurst while talking to some people sitting at my table. It was a great break from a busy life.
As the rain returned and the sun said tschüs for the day, I headed out, grabbed some cash for Aix and returned to the airport.
I was really worried about timing and getting to the city and back for my flight but a 10 hour layover couldn't have been more relaxing. My flight was on time and super relaxed. The flight wasn't full and the middle seat next to me was empty, it was a great flight capped with some snacks, a meal, and some words with the guy next to me. We enjoyed a bottle of white wine the Lufthansa attendant gave us and we took a short nap after chatting about the French news.
Not bad. It's great to be back in Europe.