While browsing for flights to Romania we intentionally wanted to choose an itinerary that included a long layover (several hours) in a city of interest to us. We were able to find a flight schedule which took us through Frankfurt and provided nine hours worth of time to exit the airport and explore.
Carefully and methodically selecting a longer connection provides the opportunity to visit an extra city without having to purchase an extra plane ticket. Last year, Seiji and I traveled to Italy and Portugal for our honeymoon. While most would have taken the nonstop flight from Rome to Lisbon, we took the one-stop flight with a twelve hour layover in Brussels, Belgium. We landed in Brussels at eight in the morning local time, received a Belgium stamp on our passports, and hopped on to the train located within the airport. Twelve hours was plenty of time to walk around, eat a couple of meals, and gather an initial impression of the city. The general rules we follow to maximize our layovers and make them worthwhile are:
- Airport must be in close proximity to city center
- Train station within the airport (taxi is okay but traffic can be an issue to consider)
- Flight to land in the morning to ensure daylight
- Layover to be a minimum of eight hours in length
Seiji accidentally discovered this travel hack years ago. He found himself in the Amsterdam airport with a painfully long layover, and learned the airport was a short train ride away from the main attractions. He turned what could have been a negative experience into a chance to see a new city.
Now back to Frankfurt.. We landed at 1030 local time, and had a nine-hour layover. The airport has its own train station, making transportation to the city center very accessible. It was a bit challenging to figure out which train we needed to take and which direction. We rode the S8 route for about 15 minutes to Hauptwache, finding ourselves near restaurants, shops, parks, and the Mainkai waterfront. We spent several hours strolling along the waterfront, trying local eats, and admiring the style of architecture. To my surprise, walking around in the sun after a long flight (11 hours from San Francisco) felt extremely therapeutic and my jet lag improved dramatically.
Unfortunately I did not take many photos in Frankfurt but it really was a lovely day. That evening we headed back to the airport and completed the final leg of our journey to Bucharest, Romania.
Up until now, I had never been to Romania. My parents are both Romanian born and left it all behind in the late eighties after the communist revolution to seek a better life for their kids. From Romania they went to Germany with my three older siblings, and waited for approval to go to America. My mom became pregnant with me while living in Germany, and I was born there in Bremen. Three months after I was born our family of six headed to Portland, Oregon. It has taken 28 years for me to visit Romania and finally see what exactly my parents left behind.
Seiji and I gave ourselves a couple of days to relax and adjust to the new time zone before connecting with family. My mom’s parents are both alive and living in Bucharest. I have not seen my grandpa in 19 years, my grandma in five. It was wonderful visiting with them, eating my grandma’s cooking, and introducing Seiji to them for the first time. At 81 my grandma has not lost her touch in the kitchen. She spoiled us by making traditional Romanian food, and no one prepares it better than she does (every Romanian thinks their family’s version of the traditional dishes is best). My only complaint is if you don’t eat everything on your plate she’ll accuse you of not liking it.
This was just the start of our time in Bucharest and an introduction to my family. Next time I’ll show you more of what we’ve been seeing and doing in the city. You’ll also be meeting more of my family members along the way in future posts. Make sure you subscribe to GoRemember to get notifications when a new post appears!