Hello! Here’s my helpful hints for those planning on going to Infusio.
I recommend to flying with Lufthansa. All of their planes are new and their service is awesome, even in coach! Frankfurt is their main hub. Departing from San Francisco, they were one of the most economical options. Frankfurt is one of the largest airports in Germany, so most airlines fly there.
It’s best to get some Euros from your local bank before departing, the fees are less than getting them at the airport, or other currency exchange locations. Be sure to do this at least a week in advance because your bank may need to order the Euros. You can use your ATM card in Germany but your bank may charge a fee.
Don’t worry if you don’t know German! My husband and I don’t and we had very little time to learn anything before we left since our trip was very last-minute.
Everyone at Infusio speaks English!
Most people, especially young people, in Frankfurt and throughout Germany know English and will speak English if you politely ask if they speak English. The German for “Do you speak English” is “Sprechen Sie Englisch.” A person we spoke with during our stay said most German’s prefer to be asked if they speak English, rather than saying you don’t speak German and expecting them to speak English.
There are several free translator apps that you can type an English word or phrase into and it will give you the verbal German translation. You can also use Google Translate on the web to translate written word.
If you have time it might be worth practicing a few basic sayings in German but I wouldn’t stress out if you don’t have time to do this.
Infusio has two accommodation options, a few apartments in the building next door to the clinic, or a studio apartment located at Couva Boarding House which reminded me of a cross between a hostel and apartment living. I believe the default is to have you stay at one of the apartments next door, but if they are booked they’ll have you stay at Couva.
Each location has positive and negatives! I had the unique experience staying at both! My first week, I stayed at Couva, and the second week I stayed at a Infusio apartment.
Here’s what I liked about Couva – It has easier access to the subway (U-Bahn) stop, it’s almost next to the Merian Platz stop. There are lots of cafes, restaurants, an excellent organic grocery store (Basic), and local shops are within a short walking distance. There is also a really great botanical garden a few blocks away. If the weather is nice, there is a rooftop area you can enjoy and it had a great view of downtown Frankfurt. The rooms have a coffee maker, 2 burner cooktop, a small refrigerator, and some rooms have microwaves, mine did not, but the room my sister-in-law stayed in did. Couva is located between the Bornheim and Nordend neighborhoods. According to everyone at Infusio, it’s one of the nicest neighborhood in Frankfurt. This link gives a great overview of the different neighborhoods in Frankfurt.
Here’s what I didn’t like about Couva – It’s not really possible to make a meal in your own apartment because you have one small skillet and pan, and limited utensils in the apartment. If you want to cook a meal, you’ll need to use the fairly well stocked community kitchen that has an oven and lots of cookware, utensils, and extra dishes. There is also a larger refrigerator that anyone who stays there to use.
The bathroom in my room was my least favorite thing but we were also given a handicap room because my arrival was very last-minute. I am sure this contributed to my “dislike” The bathroom was one large room and there was no separation between the toilet and shower, not even a shower curtain, so every time we’d shower the toilet would get wet and most of the bathroom floor would also get wet. We would be super cold during our showers, even with the door shut. The toilet was so high off the ground I could swing my legs! I’m 5’ 4” tall so I know it wasn’t because I was too short 🙂 There was only one towel hook and no type of vanity or shelving to store your toiletries. My sister in law’s bathroom at Couva was totally different, it had a bath tub with a glass partition for the shower, plus a storage shelf under the sink. She did say our room and kitchen area was much bigger than her room.
Here’s what I liked about the Infusio apartment – It was more spacious, had a more comfy couch and a “homey” feeling. It also had nice patio we could enjoy. It has a full kitchen which is well stocked with all kinds of pots, pans, and cooking utensils, it even has a juicer. The bathroom is nicer and more functional, with towel holders, hooks, and shelving for your toiletries.
Here’s what I didn’t like about the Infusio apartment – The location isn’t great, it’s not unsafe or anything like that! It is in a mostly residential area called Eckenheim, and there really isn’t much nearby. There is a conventional grocery (Rewe) with a limited selection of organic products, a block away. There are a couple of restaurants within waking distance but if you want variety you’ll need to take the train to another neighborhood. The nearest train station is a 20 minute walk.
Basically, you’ll need to decide if space and “homey” feeling is more important than location. I think if I didn’t have the handicap room at Couva, I’d pick that location.
You can also find your own accommodations however I think that would be a more expensive option. The fee Infusio charges is very affordable compared to hotels or vacation rentals I looked at in Frankfurt.
The clinic, Infusio apartments, and Couva all have wifi. We found the wifi at Couva to be spotty at times, we didn’t have any issues at Infusio.
Both Couva and the Infuiso apartments provide access to laundry facilitates. The Couva laundry room is in the basement, which didn’t bother me but I found that 2 washers and 2 dryers to serve all the apartments at Couva to be inadequate. We had to wait a long time for a turn to do our laundry, and even then we only got in one load. When we there, one of the dryers was broken so I’m sure that also added to the long wait time. Their laundry area is open 24 hours and you need to bring your own detergent. Also, there were no instructions on how to use the machines and they are different from what we have in the U.S! 🙂
Infusio allows patients to use the clinic’s washer and dryer during certain times of the day, I believe it was between 1:30 – 4:30 pm. They also gave instructions and provided laundry detergent. It was much easier to do laundry at Infusio.
If you stay at Couva, Infusio will arrange for a cab to pick you up each day, about 30 minutes before you’re scheduled to begin treatment for the day. Most cabs parked in the cab parking spot, on the main street Bergerstrasse (aka Berger Straube) that is across the street from Couva. One time, they parked on the street that is behind Couva, so if you don’t see them in that parking spot, check on the other street.
Use Google maps to navigate the public transit. Google Maps is also great for walking directions to any destination you’d like to walk to.
The word German’s use for railway, train or highway is “bahn.” Trains are called U-Bahn (underground train) or S-Bahn (street train).
If you plan on taking a longer train ride to visit an area outside of Frankfurt, Google Maps is also helpful. You can purchase tickets at most of the automated ticket stations.
If you want to travel outside of Germany, you’ll need to purchase tickets in person with customer service. This can only be done at a main train station because they need to see your passports. The two main train stations in Frankfurt are Frankfurt (Main) Hauptbahnhof and Frankfurt Airpot Train Station. The Hauptbahnhof is the closest one to Couva and Infusio. Typically, you can arrive about 2 hours before a departure and be able to catch a train to several different countries.
You can check the schedules online at http://www.bahn.com. We went to Paris during my weekend off, it cost about $300 Euro each, on the fast bullet train (it took 4 hours one way). The admin at Infusio can also help with travel, train questions, and pretty much everything else!
When dining in Germany, you seat yourself in any type of restaurant, causal or fancy. Avoid any tables that have a “reserved” sign.
An 18% gratuity is included when you dine out, and its customary just to round-up to the nearest Euro when paying. Also, you need to request the check, the server will not automatically bring it to you.
Most stores and restaurants take credit cards but most German’s do not use that form of payment. Several restaurants had to “hunt” to find their credit card machine when we wanted to pay with our card! Eventually we decided it was easier to pay cash while dining out. It was easy to use a credit or debit card at the grocery and department stores.
Restaurants we enjoyed near Couva
These restaurants can also be accessed by taking a train to Merian Platz stop, most are on the main road. None of the locations are more than a 1/2 mile walk from the U-Bahn stop.
Mosebach Gaststatte – inexpensive
This is a traditional German pub. They serve Frankfurt’s famous “green sauce” in German it’s spelled Grüne Soße. I enjoyed the traditional green sauce plate, which is hardboiled eggs with potatoes and a generous portion of their homemade green sauce. The green sauce was on of my favorite foods in Frankfurt! It does contain mayo and/or sour cream, so if you can’t eat dairy I’d skip it.
Heroes Premium Burgers – inexpensive
Great burgers and fries with a superhero theme
Mirador – moderate
This was by far our favorite place in Frankfurt. We ate dinner there twice, and breakfast there once. They had an amazing venison dish!
Suppengrun – inexpensive
We had lunch here twice, it’s a very tiny place that serves homemade vegetarian soups and salads; extremely fresh and tasty.
BestWorscht – inexpensive
German fast food, bratwurst, currywurst, and fries; had to try it while we were in Frankfurt! They are open in late in case you’re craving a bratwurst for a before bed snack 🙂
There is also a wonderful “butcher shop” on Berger Straube (sorry I don’t remember the name) a few blocks from Merian Platz station, on the same side of the road as the train station. I picked up some wonderful marinated lamb and cooked it at the apartment. They also have excellent prepared side and salads.
Restaurants we enjoyed that are walking distance from the Infusio apartment
Homburger Hof – inexpensive
Traditional German pub, the also serve the Frankfurt “green sauce” (Grüne Soße). They also have a vintage bowling alley!
Pizza and Kebap Haus -inexpensvie
Pizza and kebabs, we had good middle eastern food at this place.
Restaurants we enjoyed near the main shopping area, Zeil
The closest U-bahn (underground train) stop to this area is Konstablerwache.
Bidlabu – moderate to expensive
Small and intimate. They had really unique and excellent food. It’s a small menu but everything was great. Located down an alley way off of Zeil.
Konditorei Chocolate – moderate
A true German “konditorei” (bakery) we enjoyed a special treat there on our anniversary. You will find that desserts are much less sweet in Germany, and although I rarely eat sugar, it was nice to be able to enjoy some cake and not be overwhelmed by sugar.
Grocery Stores, Farmers Markets, and Misc.
I highly recommend visiting one of the awesome Farmers Markets. I attended a huge farmers market near the Konstablerwache station, it is every Thursday and Saturday There is so much good prepared food at the market! There is also a market on Wednesday and Saturday’s in Bornheim.
The organic grocery store in Frankfurt is called Basic, it is like a mini-Whole Foods. There is a location across the street from Couva. The nearest location to the Infusio apartment is a 10 minute train ride. I preferred shopping at Basic rather than at Rewe. In Germany, the word “bio” indicates something is organic.
Rewe is a block away from the Infusio apartment but if you’re used to shopping at a Whole Foods type grocery store, it’s worth making the trek to Basic. Also, if you need a cart at Reve you’ll need to pay a small fee to use a cart. It wasn’t expensive, just a coin, I can’t remember how much.
If you need a store like Walgreens, CVS, or Rite Aid, it’s called Rossmann. If you say you want a drugstore, most German’s will direct you to a Pharmacy or Apotheke, which will not have the same things as a CVS.
Infusio will complete FMLA paperwork for you or your spouse. This is helpful is you do not want to use vacation time for this trip; because really, treatment at Infusio isn’t a vacation! My husband’s employer separates his vacation and sick time, so he was able to use sick time for almost the entire two weeks we were there. His employer required a form be completed by Infusio and he submitted when we got home.
I found the staff at Infusio to be super helpful! During my stay, the admin, Jasmine was extremely sweet and helpful. My sister-in-law found the new admin, Marc to be helpful and friendly as well. Nadine, the nurse who assists the doctor can answer most questions. Nadine is amazing at putting the needles in your arm, I didn’t even feel it!
As of January 2016, Michael Wittstadt is no longer the primary doctor in charge of patient care at Infusio. He left to start his own practice. I am sure whoever Philip chooses as his replacement will be excellent, and well qualified!