24 Hours: Lyon — Frankfurt — Home (Terri and Finn’s European Adventure Day 19)

Terri Hanson Mead
Terri Hanson Mead
Published in
10 min readMar 9


It’s never fun to sit in an airport, on your way home after a big trip and watch your flight get delayed, especially when you have a connection to make at the next airport.

After a jam-packed, fun filled day in Lyon the previous day (See Day 18: Lyon), we were those people.

It had been a summer of strikes, flight cancelations, and lost luggage all over Europe and with a short layover time in Frankfurt, we we were both nervous. We’d seen the piles of luggage at airports and knew about the worker shortages.

We didn’t have a long connection in Frankfurt and I wanted to make sure we were on the next flight (with upgrade possibilities) to SFO. It was Monday and Finn was leaving for Vermont for their first year of college at UVM bright and early Thursday morning (5:30 AM flight). Getting home Tuesday wasn’t ideal but it gave Finn just enough time to do their final packing and see some friends for the last time before Thanksgiving (or Christmas) break.

I managed to talk to a very helpful person at United who booked us on the same flight home from Frankfurt the next day. We were on the waitlist for business class.

Meanwhile, I had my husband Zeke looking at maps of Frankfurt so we could find a place to stay for the night. We were not familiar with anything other than the airport in Frankfurt.

I booked the Mercure Hotel Kaiserhof Frankfurt City Center from the Accor app using the Accor points I’d accumulated on the trip. It ended up costing me about $75 for the night.

But first we had to get there and we weren’t sure what we needed to do about our luggage. When we arrived in Frankfurt, no one was the United counter to ask. Were we supposed to pick it up from the carousel? Would it be on our flight the next day? Another flight later in the week? Or stuck in Germany since we didn’t pick it up at the carousel?

Finn had gotten me more comfortable with taking public transportation and we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to figure out another train system in yet another foreign language we didn’t know.

You should have seen us trying to figure out no only which train to take, but which ticket to buy. We found our train platform, the train, and eventually our stop and got off at the central train station in Frankfurt. It’s huge.

We walked the wrong way and ended up going out what appeared to be the back of the station where there were a lot of homeless-looking people looking slightly drugged out. We quickly walked through to the main street and found our hotel about a block down.

I’m used to walking around big cities in questionnable areas and am usually fine with it. I was not comfortable here.

Because of the hotel location, we really wondered if we’d made the wrong decision but once inside, it was like an oasis. The person at the reception desk was pretty awful but when we asked if the area was safe, someone else came out from the back office and told us to go left outside of the hotel and said we would be fine.

Trusting her, we decided to brave the street and turned left when we exited the hotel (noting the grocery store next door) and found a poke place a few doors down. We were both so happy! We ordered the same thing and while Finn got an orange soda, I had a beer from Kona, HI.

We sat outside, disappointed in Frankfurt. So far it was a bit sketch.

Across the street from us was this place and our inner 10 year old selves couldn’t help but laugh.

It was still early and we weren’t ready to go to bed so we walked toward what turned out to be the Frankfurt am Main (Main River). We continued to laugh at some of the signs.

Finn was taking pictures of these signs and sending to their friends. How can anyone who knows English not find these hilarious?

We were so relieved to see this tree-covered path with people walking, jogging, and pushing strollers. It felt very healthy and safe. We both breathed sighs of relief.

The river was beautiful and so active. If you look closely you can see the boat with multiple people rowing.

I know Finn was stressed and disappointed about not getting home that day. I was secretly happy to have the extra time together and was relishing every moment. It felt like a gift to me and I was gratefully accepting it.

We’d read about the new old part of Frankfurt (New Frankfurt Old Town) that had been completed in 2018 to create a new city center after being mostly destroyed in World War II.

Our first stop was for some ice cream from one of the small vendors. We apologized for not speaking German. Neither of us had bothered to learn it since we hadn’t planned on doing anything but pass through at the airport. I don’t think the guy cared.

I thought this was a nice contrast between the new LGBTQ+ friendly sign and the old church steeple and clocktower.

It’s a pretty area and if you are in Frankfurt, it’s worth checking out and walking along the river. Some parts were really charming. We won’t be going back to Frankfurt.

I liked the contrast of the old (appearing) construction and the newer building next to it. Finn encouraged me to take a picture from a different angle. This is Kaiserdom St. Barholomaus (St. Bartholomew’s Cathedral)

We were both so tired.

Finn was losing it, as in losing their mind, and was very silly.

I think we saw a few of these as we walked around.

We wanted to stop at the grocery store to pick up a few things since our toiletries were in our checked bags somewhere at the Frankfurt airport (thank goodness for Airtags!). I didn’t want to walk back down the street we were staying. It wasn’t very pretty and didn’t feel safe. Neither of us wanted to walk back to the river because it was getting dark.

Along came this pedicab. I asked the guy how much it would be to take us to the hotel and it was 30 euros, exactly what I had left in my wallet.

We had a blast! The music in the pedicab was perfect. The driver was really funny and took us on a wild ride on and off the street and the sidewalks where cyclists could go. It was the perfect way to end our trip…one more mode of transportation, good music, and a fun experience for us to bond over and remember for a lifetime. I was so grateful for this last experience with Finn.

Now I could go home.

But first, the trip to the grocery store next to the hotel. It seemed to have everything we needed and more. In addition to the toothbrushes, toothpaste (that took a while to figure out), deodorant, and bar shampoo, we got face masks to enjoy as we wound down for the night.

Our adventure wasn’t over. While we were in line to pay, a fight broke out in front of us. We stepped away to avoid whatever this was to become. It was over quickly and after we paid, we walked out of the store and had to walk through the police activity to get to the street to our hotel. We held back until the man who was behind us in line walked out and we joined him as he made his way to the street.

We didn’t know what the protocol was but assumed we would be ok with him for 20 feet.

That was enough excitement for us. We both showered, did our face masks, brushed our teeth and went to bed, wondering if our luggage was going to make it to SFO or if we had to pick it up somewhere. I’d encouraged Finn to pack in the carryon, the items they would need the first 10 days at school and if our luggage was delayed, we could ship out the rest of it or have them buy what they needed in Burlington.

We checked out, walked back down to the train station through the same sketchy crowd and got on the wrong train. Fortunateley we’d left early. We asked an older couple on the train how to get to the airport and they not only explained it to us, but got off at the next stop to show us where to go.

We got on the right train that we confirmed by listening to the announced stops familiar (in reverse) from the night before, and went in search of the United counter. We went to the business class line even though we hadn’t been confirmed and we were waived through. The gal at the counter was so kind and helpful and said that our bags would be on our flight and confirmed our upgrade to business class. Score!

I texted Kathryn (See Day 1) to wish her a safe flight home. She had joined her parents and sister in Italy after leaving Nice and I knew she would be going home soon. She was on our flight!

Finn was slightly annoyed with me for taking the window seat but Finn had the window on the way to France and I’d paid for the trip and got us upgraded so I said, ‘deal with it!’

12 hours later we were through SFO customs waiting for our bags (and Kathryn). Kathryn wasn’t sure about her ride home since her parents and sister had missed their connection in Paris and wouldn’t arrive until the next day.

Kathryn confirmed her friend was on her way and we waived to her from the car (Zeke picked us up). It felt so appropriate to be waving to her at SFO after meeting her for dinner in Nice, the day we arrived in France.

And that’s it. It was a fantastic trip and I can’t wait to travel again with Finn. I think Finn was surprised at how well it went and how well we traveled together. (For a full recap with all the links, favorite moments, and epic failures, see Terri and Finn’s European Adventure)

Now I’m looking forward to a Terri and Adam’s European Adventure in May after our son graduates from college. Amsterdam — Paris — Italy. We are still working out the itinerary which will include more unplanned days like Finn and I did in the South of France.

As I told my husband Zeke, all of our money will be going to education and travel.

Where should we go next?

Terri Hanson Mead is the multi-award winning author of Piloting Your Life, Managing Partner of Solutions2Projects, LLC, and an advocate for women through all of her platforms including YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, and this blog. Terri is the mother of two college aged kids, is based in Redwood City, CA and in her spare time, loves to travel, cook, play tennis, and fly helicopters around the San Francisco Bay Area, especially under the Golden Gate Bridge.



Terri Hanson Mead
Terri Hanson Mead

Tiara wearing, champagne drinking troublemaker, making the world a better place for women. Award winning author of Piloting Your Life.