It was mid-way through the year, and we decided we should explore a little more of our own country after so many international adventures. It took 2.5 hours to drive North East to Frankfurt am Main – otherwise known as Mainhattan.
Frankfurt is the only city in central Europe with a “Skyline”, and has been likened to New York. It is the business hub of the area and is where you can find the Stock Exchange and the European Central Bank. As we drove into the city we were struck by the Skyline, a magnificent collection of shining Skyscrapers, the likes of which we hadn’t seen since New York and before that, at home in Auckland.
It was a wonderfully familiar feeling to be in the city again, and we spent the first hour basking in what some would consider the boring, ugly business district. We found an espresso bar which produced a great flat white, checked out the trendy pop up cafes, vegan eateries and tapas bars and shopped on the main street. Here we also went into the MyZeil mall, a crazy silver construction famous for it’s cornucopia design.
Frankfurt is more than its business district however, and we continued to explore. Berger Strasse is an artsy street with stores selling handcrafted wares and is lined with eateries. We headed for a Japanese restaurant and spent a leisurely hour eating our fill from a Sushi train.
The Markthalle, or indoor markets were an exciting place filled with fresh cheeses, meats, fruits and vegetables, dried fruits and nuts and local specialities. Here we sampled the famous Frankfurter Ebbelwoi – or Apple Wine. The tangy fermented apple drink is an acquired taste but mixed with sparkling water we didn’t find it too bad.
There is a green belt which runs right around the city; gardens and green spaces all connected with bike and pedestrian paths running through them, so that one can walk or cycle right around the city without encountering vehicle traffic. It was lovely to wander through part of these on our way back to our hotel.
On the programme for the evening was dinner at a Steak House – another city indulgence we had been missing. The next day we enjoyed a full english/american buffet breakfast, (its the small things) and headed just a few paces down the road to the Science Centre. As far as science centres go, it was small but interesting and we whiled away a couple of hours getting involved in the experiments.
Later on we crossed over the famous Eisener Steig (iron bridge) leading to Sachsenhausen. Sachsenhausen is somewhat more grungy, and is where Frankfurt’s nightlife can be found. Students are seen walking over the bridge on Friday and Saturday evenings, and often trudging back in the early hours of the next morning.
Along with the clubs are old traditional Ebbelwoi pubs and the area was fairly busy even on a Sunday afternoon.
The Old Town of Frankfurt seems almost out of place with its timber buildings, but it wouldn’t be a German city without them. The Roemerberg is a huge Gothic Church and this square was bustling with tourists.
As in any big city there is a vibrant side and a seedy side. The latter we found in some back streets near the train station – sadly there were blatant drug use and some desperate looking people hanging out here. On a more positive note, sitting on the banks of the Main river, we watched residents running along the path or enjoying a drink on one of the bar boats.
Frankfurt is a real mix of old and new, business and art, hipster and historic. Reluctantly we collected our bags that afternoon and headed back down to our little hometown. Admittedly we love our small town and wouldn’t trade it in, but being so used to Auckland, Sydney and even London, every so often a big city break is just what we need.