Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Frankfurt, Germany

Frankfurt, Germany has been one of my favorite cities in Europe so far. A friend of mine and I decided to go on a whim. We arrived without a map. Neither of us spoke German. Our airport turned out to be two hours outside of the city. We had to stay overnight for one night in Stansted. All in all, this could have been a disaster.

Frankfurt's Historic Square

Somehow, we both survived and had a good time.

German food was fantastic. We stopped everywhere for cheap pastries, pretzels, and brauts. The underground system took a few tries to figure out, mostly because it was in another language. Our favorite part of town was the historic square, which was surrounded by restaurants, souvenir stands, and churches. From the center, the church bells seem to echo off of each other on the hour.

Frankfurt is also famous for the “Museum Mile,” which is literally a mile of museums on the Main River. We only had time to see one and it was the Museum of Applied Arts. It was pretty cool, and if you have time to do more than one there is a cheap day-pass that allows entrance into all of them.

In one afternoon we stopped at Palmengarten, Frankfurt’s botanical garden. The autumn leaves were just starting to show their colors and the flowers were gone, so it wasn’t as pretty as it could have been, but it was still worth the trip.

View from mall
At one point in our wanderings we came across an eight-story mall with a viewing platform on the roof. We and all of the other tourists were there taking photos.

Speaking of viewing platforms, we spent the first night trying to find Main Tower. This is a big tourist attraction according to google, but few of the Germans we spoke to had ever heard of it. Unfortunately we only know the area of town it was in, not the actual address, so we were wandering in and out of buildings asking “Main Tower?” throughout Frankfurt. Eventually we found it, despite all language barriers, and the views were worth it.

View from Main Tower

One last thing we ran into on accident was Occupy Frankfurt. What began as Occupy Wall Street in New York City has spread across the pond, as well. Occupy London may even interrupt our field from next week to St. Paul's Cathedral. It's not generally dangerous but it is something to be aware of--strikes and protests happen in some parts of Europe all of the time, and generally tourists should try not to get caught in the middle.

Our airport being so far away did give us a chance to see the German countryside, which we were happy about. The expensive bus ticket wasn’t as exciting, but these things happen in travel.

Germany was absolutely beautiful. Getting out of a tourist town is one of the best things I ever did. Things were relatively cheap, and no one was trying to sell me anything. Plus, it gave us a picture of actual German culture as opposed to the glossy whirlwind of tourism. So my advice to you is to act on a whim every now and then, and try to avoid the traps that only want your money.

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