PEr FYI

June 28, 2015

Atschel Applewine Restaurant, Frankfurt…eat like a Frankfurter while surrounded by Frankfurters

If you’re looking for a fun meal and a truly German atmosphere…..if you want to eat like a Frankfurter while surrounded by Frankfurters…..if  you prefer to sit on communal benches, eat hearty local food and drink sour and tart German apple wine…..if you yearn for some unconventional hospitality typical of Frankfurt, which is a bit rough and ready…..head on down to Atschel Applewine Restaurant – a small and cosy apple wine tavern with a garden at the back.

All the schnitzel I’ve ever had were Weiner Schnitzel. This time around, I ordered the Frankfurter Schnitzel (breaded pork with fried potatoes and Frankfurt green sauce). The people of Frankfurt spruced up the dish with their “Green sauce”.   Green sauce contains only regional herbs. No dill and no foreign imports! I thought it was a very nice addition to a classic. You won’t be able to find this on a menu anywhere but in Frankfurt. I can hear your collective “ooooh” from here.  I had that same moment. The show stopping grilled knuckle of pork with sauerkraut and bread was so crispy on the outside and fork tender on the inside. The meat was butter soft. Be sure to give some skin to each person, that is one of the best parts. The schweinemedaillons (Pork medallions with sliced apples and calvados cream, fried potatoes and salad) were thick rounds cut from the tenderloin –  the flavour could have been much better.

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Frankfurt is a city of cider. One place where you can become an authentic Frankfurter (that’s a native of Frankfurt, not the sausage), it’s in Atschel. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

 

June 13, 2015

Apfelwein Wagner, Frankfurt… full to the brim of porky goodness

To me this felt like a great typical German experience with great pork fest. Its a shared table experience which is unique and worth the experience to meet new people even if its just a nod hello as you join them at their table. Indoors and outdoors, the décor was fabulous; head to toe everything was made of dark aged wood and had that old German tavern feel to it.

Food is hearty, robust German fare in large portions at fair prices. I had the gegrillte schweinshaxe (roasted ham hock or pork knuckle) and downed that with a glass of apfelwein. Apfelwein is like cider, but without bubbles…. and with less flavour. The schweinshaxe was beautifully crispy, yet tender inside. Gross though this may sound, but the combination of pork fat and crisp was just too good.

Wagner is the authentic traditional Frankfurt experience in this financial hub of Germany. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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May 31, 2015

Wertheim Village, Frankfurt…you’ll find offers to make you salivate

There are many deals to be had for the serious bargain hunter who is willing to venture an hour outside the city limits and commit themselves to a designer clothing fiesta at discount store prices. Wertheim Village is an adventure for anyone who has champagne taste on a beer budget, or can’t bear to buy anything at full price.

This sprawling Franconian style outdoor shopping center boasts over 110 brands and popular stores such as WMF, Zwilling J.A. Henckels, The Body Shop, Lindt, Calvin Klein and Geox. Bargains on upscale merchandise as bags by Kate Spade and Coach to fashion by Hugo Boss to Polo Ralph Lauren. The downside is that searching for bargains works up an appetite, however, there are not that many places to eat here.  Like all other shopping malls in Frankfurt, the outlet is closed on Sundays. With regards to getting there, if you choose the “express option” you will be taken in a luxury coach in central Frankfurt to Wertheim Village and simply meet back up with your host at the prearranged time to return to Frankfurt.

Take a trip to Wertheim Village and you’ll find offers to make you salivate. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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May 15, 2011

Lufthansa, Frankfurt…cabin crew always had a smile on their faces. They got me to my destination in a good mood.

Having the luxury to fly to different parts of the world means that I get to experience different airlines and their respective services and this particular flight on Lufthansa LH1426 from Frankfurt to Sofia on 3rd March is definitely on my top 3 list!  

I stepped inside a half-empty plane greeted by  smiling, impeccably groomed flight assistants. One thing that really stood out for me was that the flights attendants were extemely friendly, very attentive to getting you whatever you need throughout the flight.  They were a pleasure to have around, they were very helpful and kind and always had a smile on their faces. And, oh yes, they were nice to look at too.

They got me to my destination in a good mood. Danke Schon, Lufthansa!!! This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

March 13, 2011

Swissotel Berlin…if it’s location you are after, you can’t go wrong with this.

The location is excellent, right on the Ku-damm with shops, restaurants and public transport literally around the corner…5 minutes walk to the Zoo station and KadeWe department store.

The check in was efficient and I was shown to my room by the same staff member who explained the facilities including the Nespresso coffeemaker. The furnishings, lighting and fittings were stylish and contemporary and the bathroom was well designed with quality fittings.Very artistic enviroment with genuine paintings and sculptures at the public areas and the guest rooms! The fitness centre was a disappointment, though – just a couple of treadmills, bike and a stair master with 2 weights machine.

Some of the reception and concierge staff at this hotel were extremely skilled at their jobs. Timo at concierge, for example is a an exceptional staff. His colleague at concierge however, has forgotten that he works in the service industry. He goes about his work as though I was an interruption to his work, rather than being the reason for it.

Another bummer is the rooms look into one another in an uncomfortable way.

If it’s location you are after, this hotel is right in the centre of western Berlin. I am definitely staying here on my next trip to Berlin. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

November 12, 2010

Sheraton Frankfurt Hotel & Towers Conference Centre…5-star prices for a 2-star product

Filed under: Germany, hotel, Travel — Tags: , , , , , — PEr @ 8:43 pm

The hotel is located just over the pedestrian walkway from the airport which is great if you’re just there for an overnight layover like I was. It connects to the train station for a quick trip into town.

While it is conveniently located to the airport, which is a plus, the quality leaves a lot to be desired. The hotel is on the expensive side for the quality of the rooms and the hallways. I could not get the phone in the room to work and repeated calls for help were not answered. The room was very dated and the towels in the bathroom were probably placed in service 3 eternities ago. (see photo)

Due to its convenient location I can recommend it if you are tired and want to get to the hotel quickly. However, if you have the time a different hotel would be a lot better. This is still the true truth, because I am still saying it as it is…

November 7, 2010

Russian visa…have someone who reads Russian check your visa. Will save you money, stress and time.

I now have something in common with William Browder (CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, the largest foreign investor in the Russian stock market and the adviser to the award-winning Hermitage Fund), Michel Jean Legrand (French Oscar-winning composer, arranger, conductor, and pianist, famous for conducting the music for Umbrellas of Cherbourg) and the Dalai Lama (Tibet’s spiritual leader). We have all been refused entry into Russia.

If you’re traveling to Russia, you will most likely need a Russian visa. Many people think that it’s super complicated but it’s not true. However, when you get your visa it is necessary to check all information….even though everything is in Russian. You can’t imagine how much money, stress and time you can save by doing just that.

I got my Russian visa in the Russian consulate in Singapore. The error they made was they indicated my nationality as “Singaporean” on my Malaysian passport though I had completed the application form correctly.

I was denied entry when I arrived at passport control in Domodedovo airport in Moscow. They brought me to the consular office where the officer cancelled my visa and re-issued me a new one for US$10. The error he made was that he issued me a single-entry visa instead of a double-entry one which I had originally paid for and obtained in Singapore. Double-whammy. Once again, everything was written in  Russian and I couldn’t understand even if I checked.

A week later, when I boarded a  train in Helsinki at 6.30pm heading to Moscow. Four hours into the journey, when we’d passed the Russian border, customs and immigration officials came on board the train and found that my visa was not valid. Being a single-entry visa, meant that my visa had been used up when I left Moscow the week before. I was asked to disembark from the train at Vyborg, a Russian town, 38 kilometers south from the Russian border with Finland at 11.45pm near midnight. There I was instructed to wait for a taxi on the roadside and leave Russia.

I got into a taxi after almost an hour’s wait and was driven to the checkpoint on the Russian-Finnish frontier. I’ve got to be honest…the movie “Hostel” did flashed through my mind at this point as we shuttled down gravely silent, dark and deserted countryside road for over 40 minutes. The Russian officials at the checkpoint stopped a passing car and instructed the lone driver to fetch me to wherever he was going. I climbed into his car and went with him to Lappeenranta – a Finnish city some 25km from the checkpoint. The driver, Vesa is a big blond Finn who drives a Mercedes Benz ASF959, has a heart of gold. He dropped me at a hotel called Cumulus at 3.00am  and offered to pick me up the next day to Helsinki if I needed a ride.

However, I managed to get a flight on Air Baltic flight BT1384 from Lappenranta to Riga, Latvia at 0745hours and then onwards to Frankfurt on Air Baltic flight BT241 at 1305hours.

Those couple of errors on my visa, resulted in denial of my entry and totally screwed up my  plans. Therefore it is helpful to have someone who reads Russian check your visa prior to your departure from your home country.

Oh by the way, there apart from the visa lesson, a few other things I learned from this adventure:

1. Never again shall I train in this Orient Express (not. More like Ordeal Express)  from Helsinki to Moscow. The food is pathetic and the sleeping cabins are fully remote control….that is I can do everything from my bed (see photo)

2. I now know that Lappeenranta’s airport is the oldest airport in Finland.

This is the true truth and I say it as it is…

March 21, 2010

Berlin City Segway Tours…the ONLY way to get to know Berlin

Filed under: Germany, Tour, Travel — Tags: , , , , — PEr @ 7:02 am

Moving around effortlessly, seeing Berlin’s sites, tons of fun, cool (guaranteed to attract envious looks), knowledgeable, engaging and humourous guide, time to stop and take pictures. This all adds up to an awesome and phenomenal way to oriented oneself to the city sights.

I am a 10th time traveller to Berlin and yet I thoroughly had as much fun as the first time visitors. I discovered how the Prussians built the country into a military superpower while segwaying through Brandenburg Gate and learn about the last days of the Third Reich on top of Hitler’s underground bunker.

The Segway is a self-balancing, personal transportation device that’s designed to operate in any pedestrian environment. Riding the segway itself was a lot of fun.  It’s a LOT of standing though so wear comfortable shoes!  
Great time!  Recommend a segway tour (only a segway tour will do from now on) to anyone wanting to get a different view of Berlin! Once again, this is the true truth. I say it as it is…..

March 18, 2010

Max und Moritz, Berlin…go there if German sausages is your thing

The Max und Moritz Restaurant owes its name to the subway station “”Mortizplatz””. Serving Berliner and German specialities, this restaurant dates from the early 20th century

They serve the most irresistable German sausages from Westfalia with a sweet-sour green-bean and diced bacon sauce. They are delicious and possibly the cause of national pride. German sausages are famous around the world.  The Germans eat about 67 lbs of meat and sausage products per person per year. They must have developed the crave for sausages here.

Authentic German beer, of course, is the drink of choice. The house beer here is called “Kreuzberger Molle”. They claim it’s natual and unfiltered. The Kreuzberger Molle is the perfect complement to the sausages as it’s lighter body and flavour won’t overpower the delicately seasoned sausages.

Here’s the true truth: to truly sample Germany’s best sausages, go to max und Moritz. You know I always say it as it is….

March 17, 2010

Marjellchen, Berlin…you know you don’t have to die to go to heaven after all

Let’s be truthful about this: there aren’t many restaurants like Marjellchen around anymore.

Ramona, whose East Prussian mother taught her many of the region’s famous recipes, is the creative force. I witnessed her being forceful too. She (and she ensures her team) offers sincere and warm hospitality and unparalleled service. They are there to take your coats from you before you even get it off you. They are consultative but not pushy. Cashier charged us for two drinks we never had, and Ramona waived it and was so apologetic you’d think judgement day has arrived.

The ambience is in a class of its own. Impressively but not-too-poshly dressed tables with oil lamps contribute to a brilliant experience. There’s no other restaurant in berlin which serves the rich and fattish cuisine of the lost East prussia provinces – potato soup with bacon and shrimps or the mouth-watering duck recipe. Only downside…they should have added two crestor tablets on the plate to balance the cholesterol. You’ll be tempted with the beef tripe soup. I was. You’ll have to try the Cream Ham (East prussian temptation). The twinkle in my waiter’s eye was discernable as I wolf down the perfectly cooked slices of mild smoked country ham in cream sauce with fresh boiled potatoes and cucumber salad with nary a pause.

Visit this restaurant only if you love unsurpassed quality food and great service in a good environment.

Once again this is the true truth and I say it as it is.

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