Frankfurt am Main: Our Adventure to the Big City

Frankfurt am Main is the “proper” name for what you and I call “Frankfurt,” which is the closest “big” city. It’s the 5th largest city in Germany, but is the banking capital of Europe, which accounts in some part for its reputation of being the New York City of Germany (although many would say Europe; in fact, some people even call it “Mainhatten!”). There are a variety of specialties of the area, one of the main ones being their Apfelwein (apple wine). In light of the NYC references, some have even dubbed it the “Big Ebbel” (Big Apple).

I was very excited to go to Frankfurt: adventure, sightseeing, and Starbucks (although I am not a coffee drinker at all, there is something very comforting to me about having a warm cup to wrap my fingers around; that being said, it hurt my heart a little that they don’t have pumpkin spice here. 😦 They do have an “Apfel Crumble” latte that wasn’t half bad, if I do say so myself)!

We drove to a park and ride in a nearby town to hop on their metro/subway system (it was less expensive than taking the high-speed train there, and was an adventure all to its own!). I’m hoping to figure out the high-speed thing soon…

The old train station in the town that we parked in. People now live there!

I thought this was a pretty good picture of the area: train tracks and farm land… That was pretty much the “town.”

We rode for about 30-40 minutes in trains that were WAY nicer than I’ve ever been in while in the US, and certainly light years nicer than Atlanta’s, and then exited in Frankfurt, at Frankfurt’s Central Station, Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof. It’s the largest station in Germany, and tied for 2nd on passenger volume. I thought it was generally pretty nifty.

Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof, looking down one of the many, many tracks! (no, the lady who is looking so stern is not actually posing for the picture… sorry, lady!)

After checking in with the tourist office folks and getting our super-helpful map, we were off! We exited the station into an area that was a wee bit reminiscent of Times Square, in a way…

It was a BEAUTIFUL day, but the hustle and bustle was probably the first thing I noticed! (Mike too, it seems)

We didn’t have a big game plan, and had done very little preparation for the trip (other than scan the Wikipedia page about Frankfurt and find the park and ride), but I definitely had an agenda: I wanted Pumpkin Spice… No luck. But I did get to have my fingers around a cup!

He tried his best with my name, I’ll give him that, and he gave me a smiley face to boot! 🙂 (its just a tall, but I scooted the cozy thing down to show my smiley face! It made me happy, too :-))

After that, we really just wandered around for a while, and then started following (more or less) the “Frankfurter Walk” highlighted on our map.

It seemed like everywhere we turned, there was construction! Everywhere!

Frankfurt is the largest banking center on the continent, and is the location of the European Central Bank, aka the heart of the beast to the Occupy protesters…

As much as I love Atlanta, I do LOVE a city with a river running through it. Here, they take advantage of their location (and a gorgeous day) at the Mainuferpark.

Frankfurt is unusual among European cities because of the large number of skyscrapers that form the skyline. According to Wikipedia, 12 of the 13 skyscrapers in German are located in Frankfurt, and 2 more were under construction (see above).

The river Main framing Saint Bartholomew’s Cathedral (Dom Sankt Bartholomäus). This church was constructed in the 13-1400s, and from 1356 on, the Kings of the Holy Roman Empire were elected here!

A pedestrian bridge intersects the city, and many have taken up a Parisian tradition of putting locks along the bridge. They take it seriously, too, with fancy engraving and whatnot!

1 slice of “Römerberg,” which is the famous square around the Rathaus (City hall). The houses right next to the city hall (next picture) were bought by the city in 1405 (!!!!), but most were destroyed in WWII. They were rebuilt, and an area right behind all of this is MAJORLY under construction (think Streets of Buckhead for those of you in the Atlanta area, only they are actually making progress on it) as a “new old town” because people love the sense of community of living in an area like that (I know that feeling well!).

Am I the only one who thinks it’s a little funny that the word for “city hall” is “Rathaus.” Whether you read it like an American – rat-house, or like a German – rot-house, it is still a very interesting choice…

“Dem Wahren, Schönen, Guten” (“To the true, the beautiful, the good”); the inscription on the Alte Oper – the old Opera. After heavy damage in WWII, it was the subject of much debate – to tear it down, restore it, ignore it? It was much later opened as a concert hall, and if you want to go to the opera, you would now go to Oper Frankfurt.

Hauptwache is on the left in the picture: the building was originally (1730) used as a prison, but is now home to a café. On the right is St. Catherine’s Church, Frankfurt’s main protestant church.

The Goethe-House, the birthplace of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. “Faust” was begun here!

Outdoor cafés (which did have a fair number of people in them), complete with blankets to help you stay more comfortable! Love that!

St. Paul’s Church: this building was built as a Protestant church in the 1700s (but not finished until 1833), and was the seat of the first democratic congress elected in Germany. They tried to write the constitution here, but that didn’t work out because the Prussians and the Austrians weren’t on board. The original building was destroyed in WWII, but was of such importance to Germany as a whole that it was rebuilt quickly (like within a year) for symbolic purposes.

The Alstadt district, or old town. We crossed the river (to the North Bank) and wandered around the old town for a while.

Old town, part 2.

Mike had a particular curiosity for this statue, which spit at whatever was in the area every 15 seconds.

Needless to say, by the end of the day, I felt like if I never walked again it might be too soon. Aye yae yae! It was a great day, though, and I am looking forward to going again. Perhaps I should divide these big days into multiple posts?

9 thoughts on “Frankfurt am Main: Our Adventure to the Big City

  1. Hey Mike and Am, I’ve also just moved to Frankfurt and am enjoying reading your blog and looking at your lovely photographs – I’ll look forward to future updates! x

    • Very cool! Thanks for reading and letting us know that you are enjoying it! 🙂 We are definitely newbies around these parts, so we explore with a bit of naiveté, I’m afraid. I’m going to check your blog out now!

  2. Hehe, Rathaus…

    I love the Alte Oper building. So beautiful! All the photos were great! Although I wish there were more pics of you and Mike- we in the States miss your wonderful faces! 🙂 Lovely post- can’t wait to read more!

    • 🙂 You aren’t going to believe this, because it sounds like the timing was rigged, but I swear it’s true. I told Mike (while we were in Frankfurt) that the next time we get the camera out, we have to be together enough to be in the pictures. I was sure that people were going to start asking… This isn’t a story about how I am always right (but it could be), but a promise that we will be in the pictures soon!

  3. It’s so fun reading your posts! I look forward to it nightly =) I giggle the whole time I read them (I can hear you talking while I read) but I LOLed at the Occupy heart of the beast picture. I also enjoyed your name on the starbucks cup- that was very sweet of the barista. The city feel of Frankfurt is so different from all the other places so far. Oh and the blankets at the cafe are amazing! I love that little detail.

    • Thanks! That is the highest compliment I feel like I can get, that you can hear my voice in the post! 🙂 You made my day! I thought the “Occupy the Heart of the Beast” thing was pretty funny. I know that they didn’t mean it that way, but… that made it even funnier! Frankfurt is very different, but not in a bad way. We are going to Berlin this weekend… I’ll be interested in how the 2 compare!

  4. What a beautiful city! Prettier than I expected, actually. And, I love the spelling of your name. Phonetically it’s pretty close! Did you get something with pumpkin spice?~

    • It really is beautiful! I was impressed. It is also a more interesting city than I was expecting… I wish that it had been pumpkin spice… apparently that doesn’t exist anywhere in Germany. I had an “Apfel Crumble” latte (which was rather tasty, I think). I was hoping that it was a regional thing, and I would be able to get pumpkin spice in Berlin (apples are HUGE in Frankfurt and close-by areas), but the barista had absolutely no idea what “pumpkin” meant. 😦 The hot chocolates sure are good, though!

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