handmade nutcrackers

The nutcracker (nussknacker) is one of the most popular German souvenirs to bring back…but where can you buy an original German made nutcracker with all the cheap China made products flooding the market? I did a bit of research about this and came out with two locations in Frankfurt am Main.

nutcracker germany

Germany has a long history of making quality wooden toys and the nutcracker was originally made in the rural areas of Germany. It’s usually shaped as a soldier and has a large mouth which can be opened with a wooden lever at the back of the doll. You can insert a nut inside the mouth and push down, cracking the nut – although the figurines are mostly used for decorative purposes now.

german made nutcrackers

Steinbach is the most premium manufacturer and all their nutcracker dolls are hand carved. These would run in the hundreds of Euros for just a small figurine. It’s not about the size (haha, no really) but the quality! There are huge 1 foot nutcrackers for 20 Euros but those are mass produced China made dolls.

seiffener volkskunst

I couldn’t afford a Steinbach but I still wanted a German made nutcracker so I went with Seiffener Volkskunst instead. These nutcrackers are not only handmade, but also hand painted in Germany! That’s why every nutcracker looks a little different – the paint on every single one isn’t the same. Their wooden toys are all individually made and painted!

handwerkskunst ulrike scheit

I got a 1 foot nutcracker for my dear as a souvenir for 48 Euros. The nutcracker dolls can run from 50 Euros – 200+ Euros, depending on the size and detail. There are two shops in Frankfurt which is reputable – the big Handwerkskunst am Romer and the smaller, more cottage industry-like Handwerkskunst Ulrike Scheit.

wooden nutcrackers

The prices are same in both – avoid the tourist traps that sells souvenirs, these are dedicated stores which sells wooden toys and only handmade wooden toys. I went *twice* (running up a 30 Euro taxi bill each way) so I could get another nutcracker doll for my dad. Old German folklore says the nutcracker dolls are keepsakes to bring good luck to your family and protect your home by guarding your family from evil spirits and danger.

german wooden toys

Don’t be afraid, my beard is long, my head is large, my look is grim but that matters not. I won’t bite you. In spite of my big mouth and grim appearance, I look with my heart for your happiness.

Posted: 6:13 pm Frankfurt time (GMT +2) on the 14th April – we’re still one day behind and it’s our last day in Germany!

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applewine murals

There’s one thing that Frankfurt is *really* famous for. No, it’s not the wurst (sausages) that derives from its name, it’s apple wine! Called Apfelwein (or Ebbelwoi) in German, the brewing of apple wine has been a source of pride for many Frankfurters.

schweizer strasse

It’s the (un?)official drink of the city!

sachsenhausen nord

There’s even an entire street in Sachsenhausen-Nord near the city of Frankfurt am Main that dedicates itself to apple wine! It’s informally called the Applewine Quarter and the street name is Schweizer Strasse. There are several establishments serving apple wine in Frankfurt (you can get it in most restaurants) but for the authentic experience, I highly recommend you go to a specialty shop!

zum gemalten haus

I was recommended two such apple wine houses by a knowledgeable local (our concierge haha) – both are located at Sachsenhausen-Nord. The first is called Zum Gemalten Haus and unfortunately, it’s closed on Mondays. The second is called Adolf Wagner (also known as Apfelwein Wagner) and I remember hearing about this place before – that’s how famous the apple wine bar is!

adolf wagner

Adolf Wagner has been around since 1931 – that means they’ve been brewing Frankfurt’s most famous drink for several centuries. There are actual long tables and chairs located both in front and inside the establishment. I recommend doing inside coz there’s a huge apple wine jug where they pour your drink from at the bar.

applewine quarter

The apple wine is brewed on the premises of Adolf Wagner itself! You can see it if you’re seated inside. There are also colorful murals depicting the good ol’ days of apple wine imbibing and scenes of general cheer.

apfelwein

You’ll expect a place like this to be expensive but it’s surprisingly affordable and all the locals come here. One glass of apple wine costs 1.90 Euro. That’s less than RM 10! It’s cheap even *when* you convert the currency. I had a 300 ml glass of their famous apple wine while my better half ordered the non-alcoholic apple wine.

apfelwein wagner prices

Surprisingly, the non-alcoholic apple wine costs slightly more than the regular apple wine. I’m not sure if that’s coz like decaf coffee, it goes through an extra step, but I very much doubt it. The non-alcoholic apple wine that my dear ordered (2 Euro for 300 ml glass) is clear and tastes like apple juice, albeit slightly rotten apple juice.

nonalcoholic ebbelwoi
A 300 ml glass of non-alcoholic apple wine

My apple wine is slightly cloudy from the unfiltered sediments and tastes like nothing I’ve ever come across. Apple wine doesn’t taste like apple cider – it doesn’t have that acidic bite to it. It’s smooth and delicious – but be careful, the alcohol content of these things can hit the two digit mark.

ebbelwoi
A 300 ml glass of regular apple wine

I’ve seen it quoted as 10.4% alcohol although every batch differs. Adolf Wagner also sells 1 litre bottles of their apple wine to go for just 2 Euros while the 5 litre souvenir jugs are just 13 Euros. Or you can just get their matchbooks (free) if you’re a cheapskate. ;)

matchbook

Protip: If you want to get apple wine from Frankfurt to bring home, avoid buying them at the touristy Romel square where every other shop (including the official tourist information center) offers nicely bottled and packaged apple wine for sale at a price premium. It’s not as authentic as grabbing a bottle (or jug) from Adolf Wagner, where the locals drink, so get it from a reputable apple wine bar instead of a souvenir shop!

wagner applewine

I highly recommend walking to Apfelwein Wagner and sitting down for a glass of apple wine when you’re in Frankfurt. It’s one of the few things which is unique to the city itself and even if you don’t consume alcohol, there’s a non-alcoholic apple wine to conform to your dietary/religious beliefs. It’s way better than grabbing a Frankfurter (and you can do the latter after some nice local apple wine in your tummy).

applewine prices

Apple wine is called the official drink of Frankfurt for a reason! :D

apfelwein wagner

Posted: 9:39 am Frankfurt time (GMT +2) – we just took the overnight Paris-Frankfurt am Main bus! :D

Updates on our 10 day vacation through Germany and France:
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eiserner steg bridge

Yeah, the trend has spread to Germany too! :)

frankfurt love bridge

This is the Eiserner Steg Bridge – a pedestrian bridge in Frankfurt am Main. We wanted to go to Romer and the concierge from Kempinski Hotel Gravenbruch Frankfurt hailed a taxi for us and told the driver to set us down at the other side of the bridge so we can walk across (it’s nearer and we’ll get to see the padlocks).

new love locks

The “love lock” bridge is all about people putting padlocks (some very colorful ones are coming out) and writing their names in permanent marker (original, old school method) or using laser engraving as the trend exploded and the commercialization started.

love lock bridge

The padlocks are “locked” onto the bridge – any part of the bridge – and the key kept. It’s supposed to symbolize the union of two people and the strength of the relationship.

love lock

AFAIK, the love lock bridge trend started in the early 2000’s and Wikipedia states that it first took hold in Paris. However, I’ve seen old locks with dates like 1989 so I’m not so sure that’s true. The most well known bridge in France is the Pont de l’Archevêché – it’s just behind Notre Dame.

original love locks

I believe there’s even a TVB series made about it, called Triumph in the Skies II or something. I only know this coz my better half watches Cantonese drama series. Yes, that was filmed in France (or so my dear says).

love bridge us

Since the popularity of the Pont de l’Archevêché love lock bridge, it has appeared all over cities in the world.

love padlock

I heard Malaysia even jumped on the bandwagon and *specially* opened a bridge for this, while countries like France have tried removing the locks (or transferring it) due to structural integrity concerns (the combined weight of that much padlocks is nothing to sneeze on).

Short mention:

romer panorama

I love the Sweep Panorama feature in my Xperia Z1 smartphone. We were headed to the beautiful Romer square and there was a wedding going on at the Old Saint Nicholas church. I couldn’t take the Romer’s famous Eastern façade together with the wedding at the church with *any* kind of camera, dSLR included, and was about to give up when I thought of the Z1′s panoramic photo and I managed to get everything in just one easy sweep – the instructions were on the screen!

I didn’t think of using it when I was the German version of the famous/cheesy (depending on how romantic you think is) Parisian “Lover’s Bridge” (which is dubbed The Frankfurt Love Bridge – or Padlock Bridge) when I was walking through it though and now I really want to take a Sweep Panorama shot on my smartphone so I can show how nice it actually is! I’m going to do one here in France and another when we head back to Frankfurt so I can show the difference in detail! :)

Posted: 9:38 pm Paris time (GMT +2) on 11th April – but it’s 12th April, 3:38 am in KL now! :D

Updates on our 10 day vacation through Germany and France:
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weeping willow

We’re staying at the beautiful and luxurious five-star Kempinski Hotel Gravenbruch Frankfurt for 4D/3N before we head on to Paris. The 13 hour flight here (yeah, it’s a direct flight with Lufthansa) was perfect – we arrived at 6:40 am and the hotel kindly allowed us to check-in early.

nils

I’ve stayed with Kempinski before at the Hotel Taschenbergpalais Kempinski in Dresden and the service is always spot on. This is Nils, who helped smooth the check-in process after a long flight and got us adapters for the room (forgot to bring mine). The rooms are all connected with free WiFi and even has built in adapters and USB chargers on the main desk (for those who factor this into their decision making process).

kempinski gravenbruch

The view out of the room is amazing too! The hotel is in Neu-Isenburg so it’s conveniently just 15 minutes from both Fraport (Frankfurt Airport) *and* Frankfurt am Main (the city center itself). It’s surrounded by a beautiful forest – the road leading here was lined with trees and my better half thought it was a little like a horror movie while I thought it was tranquil haha – and the hotel even has their own lake!

breakfast

It’s a Sunday today and I’ve been to Germany before so don’t expect shops and such to be open. The Germans really do like their quiet Sundays so unless it’s a special Open Sunday (which occurs every 3 months or so), the shops remains closed, even convenience stores. However, attractions and restaurants remain open so you can still go sightseeing.

esstisch

We just had a lazy Sunday breakfast at EssTisch and I mentioned on Instagram that the OJ is the best I’ve ever had! It’s undiluted and has no added sugar, freshly squeezed and just a treat to drink.

juices

They also have small bottles of other juices, our favorite is the Italian blood orange juice (which also happens to be the hotel soap scent, hmm…)

milk

There’s 1.5%, 3.5% and lactose-free milk in these cute little milkmaid style dispensers too!

eggs

You can order your eggs here but our waitress actually came over to our table to get our order and sent it over too, can really get used to this five-star service.

bread

The selection of bread is staggering too, and I also found my favorite German bread! I first had this aboard a Lufthansa Business Class flight two years ago when I came here (it’s also served in their Economy Class) and loved it so much – the burnt flavor of the outside combined with the chewiness and dense-airy dough makes for very good eating.

loaf

I told my dear that and we both stacked out bread baskets full. #carboverload

soft boiled

You can also grab a 6-minute egg (we call it soft-boiled) or a hard-boiled egg from the buffet…

cheese ham

…as well as a variety of cured hams, cold cuts and cheese.

cereal

I’ve always thought this was how people ate back in the days when there’s no refrigeration – the grapes are to provide a burst of moisture when you eat bread with the cured ham, it works really well. Oh, and I took this mild looking fromage that looks innocuous and innocent and when I touched it, I thought someone who just got lost in the forest for 90 days staggered in and TOOK OFF HIS SHOES. (!!!)

cold platter

Seriously, it was *that* bad and this is coming from someone who loves cheese. Naturally, I made my dear smell it and tried to get her to eat it too (she didn’t). It was the worst smelling cheese I’ve ever come across and this ain’t my first rodeo. I wonder what it’s called. It’s also very delicious and I finished the quarter-wedge of cheese I took, much to the amazement of my better half.

forest

Anyway, we’re gearing for an early start tomorrow so it’s bedtime! I’ll update more next time, have a good week ahead everyone!

flowers

Promotional consideration:
Lufthansa sponsored my return tickets to Frankfurt. They have a direct non-stop flight five times a week from Kuala Lumpur-Frankfurt. The tickets are reasonably priced too, starting at RM 3,300. It’s cheaper if you book early though – I paid RM 2,421 for my girlfriend’s ticket via their booking number. I saw it for RM 2,221 as their special promotional online fare (don’t need to pay the Ticket Booking Fee for web) on Lufthansa’s website.

Kempinski Hotels is a luxury hotel chain that has specially outfitted hotels throughout Europe, Middle East & Africa, and Asia Pacific. They’ve been hoteliers since 1897 and they specialize in luxury holiday resorts, business and spa hotels around the world. Every Kempinski Hotel is unique, designed for guests who value five star holidays and luxury getaways. The 4D/3N Kempinski Hotel Gravenbruch stay is courtesy of the group.

Posted: 9:33 pm Frankfurt time (GMT +2) on 6th April – one day behind! :D

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frankfurt paris trip

No, this isn’t a photo from Frankfurt, our flight is tonight! :) The photo above was from my third Europe trip to Germany two years ago…and now I’m going on a 10 day vacation with my better half for our second annual overseas trip (our first trip was to Australia)! It’s going to be awesome!

We’ll be flying to Frankfurt on my birthday *and* I’ll gain significant extra hours flying west so I’ll have a uber long birthday on the 5th of April. Haha.

I’ve booked the ICE train to Paris, France so I’ll be taking my dear to the City of Love for our anniversary-cum-birthday celebrations! We’ve booked ourselves into a proper short stay apartment instead of a hotel so we can cook, but our plan is to visit some of the Michelin starred restaurants in Paris!

german food

The reservations might be tricky but I hear lunch is the best bet and some of the 1 or 2 Michelin starred restaurants aren’t too hard on the wallet, I hear anything from 3-course lunch for 36 Euros to a 175 Euro 12-course extravaganza dinner menu at the French superstar chef Robuchon!

I plan to buy my dear a meal at a Michelin starred restaurant as a birthday present so she can experience what all the fuss (or some might say, hype) is all about! <3

I'll still be connected to the net and blogging but you can also follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for updates on our 10 day vacation through Germany and France!
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Cheers and have a great weekend everyone!

lufthansa sign

This is quite a funny story. Not LOLOL funny but an interesting experience coz I like to take things in stride and things like this happen. I had a flight cancelled due to fog in Melbourne when I was in uni. Hey, it’s an adventure to me. :)

Our flight from Berlin to Frankfurt was delayed due to bad weather in Frankfurt. No flights were allowed to take off from Berlin. We all waited in the plane for ages. No flights were allowed to depart from Frankfurt too – all the planes there were grounded so we thought we could still make the connecting flight.

frankfurt delay

Everyone boarded an hour ago but we could not take off – at least we got updates from the Euro 2012 Germany-Italy semi-finals match from the pilot, sorry for your loss Deutschland, I supported your team…coz we were in your country and it’s a fine one. Heh.

Anyway, when we finally managed to get airborne, we ended up taxiing above Frankfurt coz there was a sudden influx of inbound and outbound air traffic. That’s when we knew we couldn’t make the connecting flight to Bangkok…and sure enough, we only landed way after that flight has departed.

sheraton frankfurt

Lufthansa issued us a free night’s stay at Sheraton Frankfurt Airport Hotel and 30 Euros in “credit” which turned out to be dinner. This is dinner:

lufthansa dinner

There were heaps of people trying to get on a flight – any flight – so one of the staff advised us to get some rest and come back the next day. There were over 200 people on the waiting list after midnight! Thanks for queuing up and checking Nigel!

german cigarettes

I had packed my cigarettes into my check-in baggage so I had to get another at the airport – it’s 5 Euros, which is almost double our price, but with a long flight ahead and no bookings yet, you gotta have that nicotine hit.

checkin line

We went to the hotel and found out that the queue there was quite impressive too. This is where all the cabin attendants stay – it’s connected to the airport so that was good. The queue was still there after we finished dinner. Mind, this is only the Business and First class people so imagine how many people in total which was affected.

sheraton frankfurt internet

I had my notebook and bought 24 hours of WiFi from Sheraton for 19 Euros (about RM 76) using my credit card. I didn’t know how long I would need to wait, and I ended up wasting it coz I crashed at 2 am and woke up at 4 am to go line up at the airport. Oh well.

frankfurt shower

It’s a good thing I had a souvenir t-shirt of the Berlin Wall so I could change my shirt at least before heading to the airport. I didn’t even unpack coz I fell asleep after the long flight delays.

lufthansa delay queue

This was the line this morning. I started queuing at 4 am and this is what it looks like at 7:37 am. (!)

I waited in line for hours before one of the Lufthansa staff saw my ticket and brought me down. I managed to get a confirmed ticket – a husband and wife team with us went through India at 12 pm and Nigel also managed to get the 3 pm flight that I was on.

(all times are GMT +2)

lufthansa breakfast

The reason for splitting up is due to the sheer amount of stranded passengers so we couldn’t stay together. There just wasn’t enough seats. The grounding of the Frankfurt airport really affected a lot of people – several thousand people stayed at the airport (Economy) or the Sheraton in Frankfurt (Business and First).

sheraton frankfurt airport

You know what the worst thing was? No one could retrieve their check-in baggage! There’s a rule that it has to stay at the airport or something to that effect. I’m pretty sure I’ve broken the record for wearing the same underwear, jeans, socks and shoes. I could only change my shirt. I can smell myself from 200 meters away. Heh.

I’m also staying awake on willpower and coffee alone. I’ve drank more than 15 cups in the past 24 hours. :x

I’ll have to wait for a while before I’ll know if my flight back to KL later is 100% confirmed. I’m the only one left here coz there were just too many people needing to fly to various parts of the world.

It’s a good thing the Thai Airways Royal Lounge in Bangkok has a shower room so I could use their fresh, fluffy, wrapped towels and brush my teeth and freshen up.

thai air lounge shower

Thanks for booking us on Business Class, Volkswagen Malaysia – that really helps when stuff like this happens. :D

I’m still wearing the same clothes from several days ago (except for the t-shirt) but that shower really freshened me up. I can semi-write coherently while being extremely sleep deprived. Heh.

Now, I shall go back and check if my outbound flight is confirmed. I need to go back today. I don’t even know what “50% confirmed” means. *shrugs*

bangkok shower

Oh well, it’s all good! Sawadee krap from Bangkok! :)

Posted: 11:33 am Bangkok time (GMT +7)

hotgirls dresden

Dodgy.

hot maid

Dodgier.

hb statue

Dodgiest.

smirk

Posted: 11:53 pm Tuesday (26th June) Berlin time (GMT +2)

warsteiner beer

I just had a great German beer called Warsteiner Premium Verum on the flight here. I’m flying Business Class on Lufthansa Air – they have seats which converts into beds. It would be a sin not to sleep. Heh.

lufthansa business class

I managed to charge all my gadgets with the electricity port beside the seat while I slept. There’s even a USB charger!

frankfurt

(and a rather promising looking Ethernet port)

lufthansa

The next leg of the journey will be from Frankfurt to Dresden. Catch you on the flipside!

P/S – I’ll be updating more on my other social media sites so check out the sixthseal.com Facebook page and my Twitter account for more! :D

Posted: 11:30 am Frankfurt time (GMT +2)

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