Saturday, October 1, 2011

Almaty Adventure: 2nd Frankfurt Layover


There was virtually no lines at immigration at terminal C where we were dropped off by our "VIP bus". It took another 10 minutes before we made it out to Frankfurt where we proceeded to the Lufthansa Welcome Lounge in the arrival area of terminal B. We were surprised the doors were closed even though the stated opening hours were from 5.30am to 11am.  We decided to head up to departures to see if the Thai counters were open for us to get our boarding passes for next flights but it just ended up being a waste of time or extra exercise whichever way you want to look at.

By the time we headed back to the Welcome Lounge, the doors were now opened but the alarms were going off. Per the lounge attendant manning the entrance, there was something wrong with the doors causing the alarms to go off. Our boarding passes were promptly checked and we were asked if we wanted a shower which we declined since we would be checking in to the Kempinski after this.

The Welcome Lounge is opened the business, first and I believe Star Gold members arriving on Star Alliance flights. There's nothing particularly impressive about the Welcome Lounge but having a lounge to go to after arriving is a useful perk. It's extremely useful for those who arrive way to early to check-in to the hotel or to work by allowing them to refresh themselves with a shower or breakfast.

Since we skipped breakfast on the plane, we were slightly hungry at this point and grab from breakfast from the buffet selection. The selection was nothing special - fresh fruits, scrambled eggs, cold cuts, yogurts, etc.

After breakfast and a quick email check, we headed to terminal A where we tried to get on the free shuttle to the Kempinski hotel. We called the hotel from the courtesy phone and was told that it would be another 45 minutes before the next shuttle would be available since it just left the airport. We decided to not waste the 45 minutes and instead took a cab that ended up costing around 30 Euro to the hotel - EXPENSIVE! Coincidentally, we arrived at the hotel the same time as the shuttle. If only we were at the stop 5-10 minutes earlier - would love the 30 Euros back.

The stay at the Kempinski was courtesy of Lufhansa. Lufthansa provides free day rooms for their first class passengers in both Frankfurt and Munich even for award ticket passengers. There's no discrimination here. Since our next flight to Bangkok was only scheduled to leave at 9pm, we had the room the whole day till 6pm.

Hotel Lounge
We spent the rest of day at the Kempinski by first taking a nap and then just exploring both the hotel and the nearby Gravenbruch town. The town was a fun 10-15 minute jog away but it was not very interesting. Just some small restaurants and shop. The surroundings of the hotel was very green and was definitely pleasant walking around with the sun out. We also made full use of the facilities by enjoying both the indoor and outdoor pools.

The hotel itself and the rooms felt pretty dated. It was definitely not our "style". It was nice having the room paid for Lufthansa and getting a couple of hours of rest, but I wouldn't be too eager to return to this hotel free or paid either way.

Old Desk!
By 2pm we decided to check out and head to Mainz since we were getting restless and bored. We again missed the shuttle but this time, the hotel was kind enough to transfer us in their BMW 5 series to the airport since there were going to pick up some passengers. From the airport, we proceeded to the train station for it was another 20 minute train ride to Mainz.

Mainz is a city on the opposite direction of Frankfurt. Mainz is definitely different from Frankfurt in that it has the "old-school" feel to it with the interesting architecture of its buildings and various churches. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves exploring the city and understand why people claim there is more charm than Frankfurt. We definitely would want to return to Mainz for a more proper visit and would recommend those with long layovers in Frankfurt to head to Mainz.

Rhine river and the fake beach


Mainz Train Station

The visit to Mainz also allowed us to try the in-famous curry wurst. Not sure if there are better choices but the one we tried while exploring Mainz was nothing special.

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