The excitement of the Frankfurt experience was something of a slow burner; that is to say our initial expectations of the city were not quite fully met. After a splendid journey on one of Deutsche Bahn’s famously efficient ICE trains, we arrived at Frankfurt Haupthbahnhof and made our way to the Meininger hostel. The journey was perilous! We battled through both seemingly lawless traffic and drunken football fans.
Foreign Transport Encounter #1:
The green light for pedestrians is not associated with a red light for vehicles, so although crossing is advertised as safe, cars may also freely almost run you over at their own discretion. Unsurprisingly this lead to more than one close shave…
Although the next morning, making the walk back to the train station, we realized the walk was in fact rather short, with our heavy bags on our backs it felt as though the journey to the Meininger would not end! (It was in fact only approximately a mile, but that’s beside the point…) However, despite our initial reservations about the city of Frankfurt, our stay and the Meininger and the city itself has been entirely pleasurable!
Practicing my German was not off to a flying start when I began to pay for the room in German, and the man at the desk replied in perfect English.
Although my initial response was that my five years of learning German was simply a waste, we found during our two full days here that most people in shops or restaurants had very limited or no English, allowing me to have several full conversations! Leading to the issue of the dialect here in Frankfurt; During A-Level we learn what is known as “Hochdeutsch” (their RP ‘proper German’), so my skills had not equipped me for the conversations I would have with some of the locals, that who seemed almost entirely incomprehensible! Despite this, mutual understanding was good enough to get us through the necessary transactions, as the Germans were almost good as the British at speaking incredibly slowly to foreigners.
Our first night here involved a try at trying a lovely local lager called Binding, also sold in abundance at all the local supermarkets, and also a brief conversation with some football supporters (this was the night of their latest world cup victory) in an attempt to borrow some chairs. We soon realized that evening that we had very little idea of the local attractions, so we thought screw it, let’s go swimming, and found a local water park named Titus Thermen only a short public transport journey away.
Foreign Transport Encounter #2:
Jonny does not like the escalators at the U-Bahn (similar to the metro) stations. In what is presumably an effort to save power, the escalators remain stationary until someone stands on them, presenting the problem of not knowing whether it goes up or down. Hence Jonny had an issue wherein he attempted to walk up a descending escalator. More than once…
Due to a later night than anticipated, we ended up not leaving the hostel until nearly midday, skipping breakfast, and heading to the suspiciously empty Skyline Plaza not far from our hostel, and starting on an early lunch instead. Our options for cuisine were thus far not particularly authentic: an Indian, a Chinese, an Italian and general supermarket food. So we went for a halfway house, opting for pizza and what was really an entire cake per person; we won’t fool ourselves about the calorie count! It seems that in continental Europe, they share their culinary secrets, but only among themselves! Germans are not generally known for their pizza, yet our feta and spinach slices were far beyond anything to be found at home. As for the German pastries, they truly are a must for anyone visiting Germany; both the German and Turkish-German that we tried were absolutely “wunderbar”!
The food was fantastic but our drinking experience went quickly downhill after the Binding. From Apfelwein, that apparently is a local treat but we unanimously decided was a bit shit, to the €4.99 bottle of Waldmeister (apple) flavour cocktail that we’ve been classily drinking, concocted with orange Fanta, in plastic cups, which was seemingly glow in the dark as Laura pointed out.
Besides questionable drinking choices, our experience in Frankfurt has involved a walk in the lovely Altstadt (old city), a visit to the fantastic Kommunikationsmusée (Communications Museum), of which only a small amount was in English so some significant translation was required, and a trip up the tallest tower in Frankfurt, which offered some fantastic views!
All in all Frankfurt has turned out to be a fantastic city, with more than a few hidden gems, offering a good taster of authentic German life.
Now off to Dresden on another lovely German train…
Featured photo credit: Nicolas17, shared under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.