Do You Remember When Airports Were Just Airports?

It is hard to believe that there was once a time when an airport was just a place to wait for your plane. Nowadays airports are as much about the food and shopping as they try to attract customers to fly through their locations. Some airports are even trying to become destinations for people who aren’t even traveling. The Frankfurt airport, for example, has a full shopping mall inside where people from the surrounding area can come to find the latest in fashion, electronics, and other items, claiming to be at discounted prices.

Need Jewelry, There is a Pandora Store
Friendly Faces at Elway’s in Denver’s Airport

Not only do you have full service restaurants in airports these days, but you will have choices to choose from that include upscale to fast food. Don’t be surprised if you see a famous chef or celebrity’s name on the restaurant sign as they are cashing in on the captive audience and business travelers with corporate expense accounts. It seems as though almost every airport that we fly through these days is in the process of upgrading and adding even more shops and restaurants. Have an extra hour to kill, why not buy some couture clothing from a top designer?

Perhaps a New Outfit for Your Trip
Time to Relax

In fact, if an airport doesn’t have all of these amenities, it feels as though you’ve stepped back into the dark ages. It doesn’t happen too often, but when we get to an airport ahead of a flight and can’t find more than a single choice to get a bite to eat, we are immediately frustrated. Yes, we’ve become spoiled by convenience and options that most airports offer these days. Living in Colorado, we fly out of DIA (Denver International Airport) frequently and we look forward to going to one of our favorite restaurants prior to most of our trips. Yes, one of our favorite restaurants is actually in an airport. It will be interesting to see how far airports take this trend or if at some point they will reduce the amount of goods and services that are offered. Who knew that people would look forward to being at the airport as much as they look forward to their destination.

Heading Towards the Shopping Area


Freßgass in Frankfurt

We were fortunate when we were in Frankfurt to live just a couple of blocks from Freßgass (Fressgass), which is a pedestrian street with shops and restaurants. Freßgass literally means grazing street and we probably ate at one of the restaurants almost every day. There are also a lot of high end shops on the street as well as some typical malls with department stores. With so many places to eat and shop, it is obviously quite popular and can be very busy at times.

One of the Malls
Busy with Pedestrians and Bicyclists
Plenty of Shopping
Who can Resist Popcorn
Statue on Freßgass

Regardless of the time of year, Freßgass is a great place to take a leisurely walk, window shop, and just generally people watch. All of the restaurants have outdoor seating with umbrellas or tents over top of them as well as heating lamps for the cold winter days. One of the things that we love about Europe is the willingness of people to sit outside regardless of the weather, even sitting outside on a cold and rainy day because of the heat lamps. You can find every type of food from traditional, upscale, carry-out, to street carts with bratwurst and pretzels.

Outdoor Seating
Our Favorite Department Store
Designer Store
Christmas Market
Broad Pedestrian Street

If you are interested in high-end clothing stores from top designers, then you can find anything that you are looking for. We didn’t do any shopping in those types of stores, but did take advantage of the department stores as well as electronic stores while we were there. Also, twice a week, there are outdoor markets with flowers, fruit and vegetables, as well as novelty items. It is also only a couple of blocks from Old Town, so if you have had your fill of modern shops, the historic area is just minutes away. It is also the place to be during the many festivals as well as during the Christmas season to find the largest markets. In other words, you can pretty much find anything you want in this area that is in the heart of downtown Frankfurt.

Food at Our Favorite Restaurant
More Shopping
Demonstration on the Street
Heat Lamps Lined Up
How About a Cocktail?


Christkindlmarket Chicago

Going to the Christkindlmarket in Chicago was definitely an enjoyable experience. This is the second Christmas market that we have attended here in the States and, although there are some differences compared to those that we experienced in Germany, they have both been very authentic. It was extremely cold during our visit to Chicago with wind chill temperatures well below zero, so having a warm glass of Gluhwein was a definite must. We visited the market on Saturday, two days before Christmas, and to say that it was crowded would be an understatement. It seemed that half of the city had shown up to squeeze their way through the maze of stalls.

Making Our Way Through the Crowds
Plenty of Food and Gluhwein
People Everywhere

There was a wide variety of food available, including traditional German favorites such as Currywurst and Bratwurst, but there were options to fit any desire from sweet to savory. There was a pancake house, candy stalls, roasted nuts, cotton candy, ginger bread, hot chocolate, and hot cider. And for those that craved something different that Gluhwein, there was authentic German beer and Riesling wine. For those that wanted to get out of the cold, there was a beer tent with benches and heat lamps for people to relax while they enjoyed a festive drink. There is definitely no excuse for leaving the market thirsty or hungry.

Stuffed Pretzels
Pancake House
Varieties of Sausage

Obviously, beyond the food, there were stalls selling a variety of goods. Some of them were authentic German items, but there were items from around the world. We even saw a stall selling hats and scarves from Ecuador. The most popular stalls were those that sold Christmas ornaments and decorations. One of the more unique stalls that we came across was one which celebrated Krampus, who is supposed to punish children that have misbehaved.

Krampus Stall
Ornaments and Decorations from Bethlehem
Traditional Christmas Items

It goes to show that you don’t have to fly over to Europe to find a good Christmas Market. Next holiday season, check out the cities near where you live to see if there is one in your area. Obviously, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t visit the Christmas markets of Europe, they are truly magical.

Beer Tent
Entrance to the Market