Ponzi and I are heading to Frankfurt, Germany in another week or so – from September 8th through the 17th, for a reason I can’t yet disclose. We have a few items on our itinerary, although I don’t have times in hand right now.
Neither of us have been to Europe before, so I sent a personal note to Nicole Simon (one of the only bloggers I know in Germany). She sent a few helpful tips in response, and I have gained permission to repost them here – including the possibility of doing some kind of impromptu German / European blogger meetup thing:
I have put together below some information if you like them. They are FYI as suggestions, nothing more. If you need any kind of information found out, just ping me so I can get you the English link for that.
And yes, I am a Flyertalk nuts and spend way to much time there to not even have to think about this to type this down … This is assuming as if you would know nothing, but in fact I do believe that many of this might be already know to you, this is a just in case.
If you have not yet booked flights, do NOT go through London. Fly directly into Fra, there are several options for that. Airport to town is a breeze. Both of you are smaller in size than I am but still, if you are not flying biz class, check first which airline you want to have and then check the flights with seatguru.com to allow for the biggest / widest / best seats possible. It will make an easier trip. I personally prefer this to be a very long flight when I fly west coast because it does not give me the hassle of changing and deal with immigration.
Hint: Seatguru does have a section called compare international economy where you can see the width and pitch. If you have any kind of status, try to build around that. If somebody else is paying, get them to book on your favorite alliance to you can collect nice miles from this. Hint: Some airlines allow for premier economy, a bit more costly, usually full miles, but nicer flying. It really makes a difference.
Decide first on the flights, check them through matrix.itasoftware.com for best option and plane and then call ASAP the call center to make sure of your seats, take a couple seat at the side, not the long row.
I hope someone is paying for your hotel, otherwise that could be a bitch. Prepare for the fact that most Americans complain about the so called tiny rooms in Europe. I always feel in the cheapest room in the US to be so much room. 😉 If you do not have a hotel use http://hrs.de – has the biggest database. If you got hotel points, this might be a good time to use them.
Germany has perfect public transportation by train and also usually to get around town if you stay strategically intelligent. You will not have an easy time driving around if you are on your own or in town. Then: Bahn.de is German rail and while it may not be the übercheapest version to travel, it is one of the most comfortable ones. Most big towns have the main central station exactly there: absolute center, walking distance and everything.
This is their English site: http://www.bahn.de/p/view/international/englisch/international_guests.shtml
Entering information allows you also to get an idea about distances as you are usually NOT faster by car, even worse through traffic and everything. Frankfurt especially during fair etc is like deepest nightmare. Take the train.
Then, if you have nothing planned and after all it is your first trip to Europe, you could go back through Paris. Fra Paris is only a 5 horu train drive from Frankfurt and a 4 hour one from cologne. Cologne to Fra I think is 1.5 hours and I would say that would be one of the nicest areas to go to as a tourist and get the “oh my god this is old!” feeling (and you get of directly in town) as cologne has the Kölner Dom: http://flickr.com/search/?q=k%C3%B6lner%20dom&w=all – http://www.koelner-dom.de/index.php?id=3179&L=1
It will make a beautiful day trip, you can stroll around cologne a bit and then for example take the train from here to Paris, have a short stop there and then go back to the states. (You will be able to leave your luggage at the station, they have lockers for this.) You could fly, but you will need more time getting from and to the airport! And the direct train to Paris goes from Cologne.
Quite helpful, although neither Ponzi nor I speak a word of German. Not sure we’re going to be all that comfortable on a public transportation system without a translator nearby. Nicole also suggested something that we’re totally into:
If you LIKE it should be no problem at all to have a “Chris and Ponzi are in town” meeting, That should also be possible on a kind of shorter announcement level.
A meetup would be absolutely great! Just make sure to announce that early enough for others to be able to fly in from other countries. While Frankfurt is ugly for visiting, it would make sense to have the meetup somewhere there because it is easiest to get into town for that; by flight as well as by train. It should be easier on you as well, because if you do not know yet where you are going to be, at least you know when you are in Frankfurt.
You should decide on a tool for getting information back on how many plan to attend (upcoming would make sense) and ask for help of a local place, I can spin that too as well to get them to help. I would include somehow, just in case, that this is not hosted by you but attended by you in the sense of everybody pays for themselves.
You could go for the name of a geek dinner if you feel like it and if Ponzi would like to see more females we could go for a Girl Geek Dinner meaning males are only allowed to attend when they are accompanied by a women. ;o))
I am starting the GGD in Germany officially at the Expo, but yours would also make a great opportunity to start even in Frankfurt – if Ponzi feels up for this kind of spotlight. 🙂 Anything is fine, and I assume as soon as you post about your trip they will run you down anyhow with suggestions ;)))
How can we go about finding a spot to meet at that is flexible enough to let quite a few invade and split bills? Does it make sense to take some suggestions and then start an Upcoming.org page for it?