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I’ll start off with the challenges of obtaining a passport if yours has expired or if you don’t have one.  

Unfortunately, my passport had expired without me realizing it, which prompted a visit to the passport office. In 2023, the only way to speed up the process is to have last minute business trip or a family emergency. Applying online or making changes can take between 6 to 10 months, if not longer. To claim the business trip, I had to purchase my plane ticket and book my hotel before receiving an appointment for a renewed passport.

You can ONLY schedule an appointment within 14 days of your travel date, so this was quite a gamble. Once you arrive for your appointment, it becomes an all-day process. You go through a sequence of lines to verify that your paperwork is correct. Once everything is finalized, you continue to the last window to pay your passport renewal fee. This process took a couple of hours. Then you wait and go back around 3 or 4 o’clock to pick up your passport. Thankfully they will print it the same day. So, that’s a win. If you are planning to travel to Germany keep this in mind to double-check your passport. They have a strict policy that your passport can’t expire within six months. Thankfully, I was able to get my passport to make the trip!

We flew Delta Airlines out of Atlanta on Monday evening around 6:45 pm and landed in Germany on Tuesday at 9:30 am. Since this was an international flight, I made sure that we had the proper seats so we could have some of the extra amenities such as extra leg room, the ability to lay the seat back, and great food. Being 6’5”, I was able to stretch out comfortably. Both Kirk and I were able to get some sleep during the flight. This was nice because when we landed the next morning, it was going to be a busy day.

Flying into Frankfurt, you can see there is a lot of green space.

Old City Hall Romer

My wife’s father is from Germany, so some of her family members met us at the airport and took us for a meal in Old Town City Hall Romer. They were excellent tour guides. We spent time touring the area, it was beautiful with different places to eat, and the architecture of the buildings and churches. One interesting thing we found was that most restaurants have the menu in both German and English.

Notice the cobblestone streets in the downtown courtyard.

Frankfurt Bus Tour

On our first day, Kirk and I decided to hop on a double-decker bus tour in Frankfurt, enjoying a quick one-hour ride as we learned about different parts of the city.

Frankfurt is split on both sides of the river Main, which is southeast of the Taunus Mountain range, Germany’s largest city forest. The river passes through Frankfurt and is a thoroughfare for shipping and a lot of cruises. The river has multiple bridges that have extremely low clearances, so all river traffic must be low profile. Several bridges have drawbridges due to their height. Here you can see a low-profile barge passing through.

nhow Amsterdam RAI Hotel

We chose to stay at nhow Amsterdam RAI Hotel. The hotel was created by famous architect Reinier de Graaf and is in the city’s business district. It is within walking distance of everything. The Reinier de Graaf is known for its money-themed rooms. Each room has themed wallpaper that includes banknotes, different currencies, and floor-to-ceiling windows.

Finding our room was a bit challenging. When we got off the elevator the hallways were all black carpet, black walls, ceiling, and doors with no visible room numbers. We couldn’t find our rooms, and it took a while to figure it out. I wondered how is this going to work. There are hundreds of rooms per floor. After a few minutes, we realized the four-foot posters on the wall were credit cards with the last four digits of your credit card. Your room number was listed beside it, so kind of cool.

I love food!

The first meal I had was a Schweinehaxe with sauerkraut.

Schweinehaxe with sauerkraut

Frankfurt is famous for Apfelwein, an apple wine. This shows how it is normally served.

Kirk and I had a culinary adventure where we made it a point to try foods he hadn’t experienced before.  You would be surprised at how different countries use spices to create awesome dishes. There were a bunch of places you could go get a hamburger, a steak, or a pizza, but we stayed away from American food. If you can, I would recommend trying all the traditional German foods and drinks for an authentic experience.

This is a traditional German dish called currywurst, which is a sliced bratwurst that is sprinkled with curry and other spices to prepare it in multiple different ways. Sometimes the spices are mixed with ketchup and other times it is just sprinkled on top.

One evening Microsoft took us to a fantastic steakhouse. At first, we thought it was going to be an American-style restaurant, but it was not. The restaurant cooks every steak rare, and they bring it to the table on a warm stone that is around 100 degrees. Next, they brought a second stone heated to approximately 350 degrees so that you can cook your steak longer at the table. You can add olive oil and different sauces such as herbs and a cream sauce that is like a BBQ sauce. For our side item, we had traditional Frankfurt French fries. It was a cool experience and gave me great ideas to bring home!

This is overlooking downtown from my hotel room, notice the courtyard area on the rooftop. You will see a lot of this in Germany, many have shrubs and trees as well. It expands their green space, which is really nice.

This is a picture of the train station hub in Frankfurt. It looks nice lit up at night.

Skyline at night

Germany places significance on preserving the historical skylines as a reflection of its rich heritage and commitment to history. They do not destroy old buildings, they rehabilitate them. It is cool to see the history and all the old buildings. One thing I noticed is there are a lot of interesting structures with different shapes but very narrow. There are laws and regulations governing how much of a shadow a building can cast. If a building casts a large shadow, they are not allowed to build it. Approval is needed not only for structural engineering but also for the building’s orientation and its potential impact on sunlight exposure.  Another regulation stipulates that a window is mandatory in all common area rooms classified as community spaces. At the Microsoft office, even the front reception area has windows.

This is the exterior of our hotel. Another notable feature is that skyscrapers have shades on the outside of the building. The purpose of this is energy conservation, but it also allows visibility through the shade from the interior. It serves not only for privacy but also for cost-effective energy management, enabling the lowering of shades to regulate room temperature and prevent overheating or excessive cold.

Return to In-Person Meetings

It was a rewarding experience to meet in person. I think that spending face-to-face time with our client, and Microsoft, showed commitment from everyone to the project. ThreeWill was not the only attendees who had to travel, some traveled by train for over an hour to attend, and others joined remotely as well. The ability to shake hands, meet, and share meals was a huge benefit since we have not been able to do that in almost three years.

Recommendation for first-time visitors

My favorite part was being able to walk everywhere, so I bought a good pair of walking shoes. You see people everywhere either walking or biking, it’s nice. On this and a previous trip to Germany, typically you walk everywhere and enjoy being outdoors. There are tons of little beer gardens, cafes, and restaurants that are walkable. Where I live in Woodstock, GA, you typically do not walk anywhere. You could walk to the grocery store, but it is not set up very well for pedestrians.

If, you are going on a work trip, try to book extra time to see the rest of Germany while you are there. If you are arriving on Monday and leaving on Friday, you are only getting a good two days in due to the time change. I would book more days or a weekend to explore various parts of the country. Frankfurt is nice, and I suggest visiting Munich too. Seeing only one city, you don’t get the full effect of Germany and its history. Take the train and travel to various parts of the country. Next time, I would love to take my family and spend an extra week traveling around.


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