Beyond the guidebook

27 Aug

27 August 2022.

Frankfurt is an easy city to dismiss. We have merely passed through on flights a couple of times, landing one afternoon and leaving the next morning. In 2016, we spent a full day and self-guided using a tour in the Rick Steves’ guidebook. This time, we decided to spend two nights and take a tour with the highly recommended Jo of Frankfurt On Foot Tours

There is far more to Frankfurt than the thru-traveler using it as a waypoint would know. Jo filled us in not only on the long and important history as a merchant city, but on current culture and the changing face of the city. After a fabulous 3-plus hours, we were exhausted but informed. We have learned over the years that a great private tour is an excellent way to get insight into a site or a city. Worth every Euro. 

Frankfurt: old and new. And hot.

The reason we pass through Frankfurt so often is that there are non-stop flights from the West Coast on Condor Air that make for relatively painless travel, if 10 hours can be painless. Changing planes on the East Coast is a trial we’d rather not endure ever again whether coming or going. Far better to make a single hop to FRA and then jump on a train to our next location after a good night’s sleep. Having a favorite Italian restaurant there doesn’t hurt.

As to sleep, I had a few bad nights prior to departure with so many pre-trip things on my mind: Will Sven and Molly have separation anxiety? Will I have separation anxiety? Will Sven and Molly forget who we are after 2 months? Will our bags arrive or be cast onto a pile of 5000 others as we have heard in reports? Derek’s surgery, new house sitter to get organized for, third heat wave hitting this weekend: Good Lord, no wonder I was stressed! Oh, and then COVID hanging on. I packed a pile of masks because, sensibly, the Germans and Italians are still requiring them on public transportation. That included our German airline. Everyone was masked-up except when eating. 

Speaking of Beyond the Guidebook, we are NOT updating the guidebooks this year. (THAT was a weak segue.) I wanted a trip where I was truly relaxing, not making notes and taking photos, and then spending the winter laboring over edits. I don’t envy the Rick Steves’ editors. It is a LOT of work checking and cross-checking details for a new edition. 

This year is a true vacation and I will post discoveries on the blog instead of updating the books. 

Click on any photo for a better view. The landscapes are stunning!

Clockwise from top left: Morning light on the Alpe di Siusi; The Denti di Terrarossa above the Alpe; Before sunrise in the Alpe di Siusi; One of our many companions on a morning hike; Me fashionably dressed for the German trains; Long view on the Alpe to our hotel with the Sciliar and Punto Santander; The many faces of the Alpe di Siusi include forested sections; Center, pet alpacas at the AlpenHotel Panorama.

Thursday was a long train day traveling from Frankfurt to Munich where we changed trains for the journey south to Bolzano.

Our trusty driver, Ivan, picked us up and ferried us to the Alpe di Siusi where we nestled in to the AlpenHotel Panorama, a favorite spot on our Favorite Places Tour, for three nights. This is another Beyond the Guidebook place. The other guests — mostly Italians — are surprised to find Americans here, especially on a repeat visit. It is not in any guidebook I have ever consulted but it is in our own Walking in Italy’s Val Gardena. One of the best features: rooms include not only breakfast but a 5 course dinner. No cooking, no thinking about it, elegant, tasty, and many choices. We are never disappointed.

Fun story. We first met “Taxi Ivan,” as his business is called, in 2016 when we vacationed in the Val Gardena with our two cats, traveling from Rome to beat the heat for the month of July. (See Training Cats from July 2016.) We used to take a bus to Ortisei from Bolzano, but imagine getting on a bus — even a nice one — with 4 suitcases and two cats! Taxi Ivan rescued us and we have been using his services ever since.

Hope you will stay tuned as we continue our Favorite Places Tour.

14 Responses to “Beyond the guidebook”

  1. chloe erkenbrecher September 3, 2022 at 02:26 #

    Have a fantastic 2 months. Raining in my area of France at the moment and it is needed. Where can I get your book as my grandson and his wife want to hike in the Dolomites?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Laurel September 3, 2022 at 03:21 #

      Hi Chloe! Happy that France is getting rain. We need it in Oregon where it is still very warm and likely no rain until October. The Val Gardena and the Alpe di Siusi are green as there are regular showers.

      Our book is available on Amazon in every market worldwide in Kindle or paperback. Some countries’ sites do not allow shipping to other markets but most do. I find my login info works also for UK and EU sites, FYI. Aren’t they clever? If your grandson has questions please have him reach out to me. Ciao!!!!


      • chloe erkenbrecher September 6, 2022 at 21:54 #

        Thank you. I will get the book when I return to California. I’m delighted that I am not there now.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Kathleen September 3, 2022 at 10:29 #

      What an uplifting Blog! So many kind and honest people in the world. Really making me miss the Dolomites. I am definitely going to get your book and dream about a return trip.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sue eisel August 30, 2022 at 12:22 #

    I do love how you write – makes me feel I’m with you a bit! Plus your pics make me hungry.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ken August 27, 2022 at 20:14 #

    Laurel, it’s wonderful to hear that you’re finally back in Europe, and enjoying your favourite spots once again! The pictures were great. This time of year always reminds me of the alpine areas of Europe, but this year I’ll have to enjoy them by travelling vicariously through your Blog. Have a great time!


    • Laurel August 27, 2022 at 22:30 #

      Thanks, Ken! It is the best time of the year to be here!


  4. kathyfromhouston August 27, 2022 at 16:03 #

    What lovely scenery!! We are planning our return to Ortisei next May, and I am so excited. I need your contact information for “Taxi Ivan” in Bolzano. I wasn’t looking forward to the overcrowded bus to Ortisei. We are taking our 32 year old adult son for his first trip to Italy. I look forward to following your trip. Kathy

    Liked by 1 person

    • Laurel August 27, 2022 at 22:35 #

      How exciting for you and your son must be over the moon! Taxi is the way to go. Bus is cheap but an endurance thing. The taxi is a stress reducer for certain. Taxi Ivan’s website is here I contact him through the site and he is very responsive, certainly within 24 hours. He is in our book, too, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th editions.

      Maybe May won’t be so crowded as it is technically off-season. It is not crowded in the Alpe di Siusi now, even though it is a weekend, people are spread out and I know our hotel is not full. Will report from Ortisei in the coming week. Ciao!


  5. grier August 27, 2022 at 14:35 #

    What scenery! Your train compartment looks quite comfortable and it’s definitely the best way to go. Enjoy every minute of your holiday!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Laurel August 27, 2022 at 22:37 #

      The train was older but clearly the interior upgraded. Looked like it used to be for 6 people but two seats removed and replaced with an empty space for handbaggage or to use as a low table. So there was separation. Very comfy seats, a good thing on a four-plus hour ride after a 2.5 hour ride!


  6. Marcia Lynn Kakiuchi August 27, 2022 at 09:48 #

    Two months vacay! Wow. Impressive. And no, your cats will not forget you. I agree that getting on a bus with 4 suitcases and 2 cats would be….well….just not fun for anyone! Your train compartment looks wonderful and the description of breakfast and a 5 course dinner provided at the AlpenHotel Panorama sounds absolutely perfect….plus a good night’s rest for you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Laurel August 27, 2022 at 22:40 #

      You guys would love these mountain locations! The hotel is definitely casual but with caring and elegant service. It is so peaceful and calm. Slept 9 hours again last night! I think we’ve left jetlag behind for sure!


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