After over two months, I’m finally getting around to recounting my travels since November. It’s crazy to believe that I’ve traveled pretty much non-stop since then, only to take a break from it starting just two weeks ago. Tiring is an understatement, but the fact that it was fun isn’t– if anything, I’d love to do it all over again.
These next few weeks (heck, month or two) will be primarily dedicated to my travels in Europe from November to January. I’ll be starting with my time in Germany the weekend after Thanksgiving. Spending nine days there, I got to see other cities in the country that I hadn’t seen before, all the while be present for their Christmas market!
First stop was Frankfurt: granted, flights were a tad pricier than expected (i.e. over 150 euros direct), but I managed to get a flight for around 84 euros, although it required a layover in Brussels. All the same, it wasn’t a bad deal.
I left early at 7:00 from my city to take the shuttle to the airport, arriving around 8:30. After going through security, I had about two hours to kill before boarding. The flight took off at 11:30, and we arrived into Brussels on time. However, the flight to Frankfurt was delayed by 30 minutes, which annoyed me, but all the same, we took off and arrived about 15 minutes later than expected into Frankfurt, which wasn’t too bad.
Upon landing, I went to purchase my train ticket to get into the city center, where I was to meet my Couchsurfing host; I would be using Couchsurfing throughout my time in Germany, which not only saved a lot on accommodation, but also had me meet new people, which was great. I got off at the Hauptbahnhof stop, and I met my host in the main train station: he was a man in his late 50’s (although he looked much older) who was German, but really into East Asian culture and language– although he had some moments of eccentricity, he was a kind man and I appreciated his offer to host me during my two nights in Frankfurt.
Considering he lived outside of the city center (about 15-20 minutes by train), we took the train to his house– however, he messed up on the line, and so we ended up taking a long bus ride to his place. It was nearing 19:00 by the time we reached his house, which was old (200 years old!), and four stories high. I had my own bedroom and bathroom, which was nice, but it was extremely cold, as it was winter and there was no central heating in the house– thankfully, my room had a heater, so I could turn it on when I slept at night. We had a light supper and long chat together, and then I retired to my room for the night.
The next day, my host and I spent the day together visiting Frankfurt– we split a day ticket for public transport and took it into the city center around 8:00. From there, we started at the Goethe House, which was the former home of the famous German writer. It was under construction when we went, and we chose not to go inside to visit– instead, we continued onto Römerberg, which is the main square with colorful, half-timbered houses. They’re actually a model of the originals, since much of Frankfurt had been destroyed during the Second World War. The Christmas markets also took place there, although they hadn’t opened yet when we went that morning.
We made our way to the Main river, where we crossed the Eiserner Steg (“Iron Bridge”) and made our way to the Deutschordenskirche (“German Order Church”). The interior of the latter was a lovely surprise, as it was brilliantly illuminated and offered a peaceful atmosphere to the neighborhood at hand. Not too far was the Sachsenhausen district, which had tons of bars and restaurants for that night-life glow. Although the place was deserted in the daytime, I could imagine it coming alive in the nighttime.
Strolling along the quay, we came across what I’d like to call “Museum Row,” which literally had one museum next to the other. We made a brief stop at the Städel museum, which houses art throughout the centuries. I was particularly interested, however, in the Städel Garden, which is one of the icons of the museum itself. With circles of lights along the rolling lawn, it makes for a modern-art exhibition to see.
Just a few blocks down from the Städel was the Liebieghaus, a 19th-century villa that’s a sculpture museum today. We just took photos from the outside before crossing over the river back into the bustling city center. For lunch, my host proposed Sikh food at a temple he frequents (again, really into East Asian culture): although I wasn’t expecting to eat Sikh food, let alone in a temple, it was free and I couldn’t complain! After lunch, we basically went temple hopping (Buddhist, Hindu, etc.) which was a really strange experience, but interesting to see the diversity in a big city like Frankfurt.
We returned to the heart of the city in the afternoon, where we visited Paulsplatz before making our way to the Main Tower, a skyscraper with an observatory deck. I decided to go up, paying 5 euros for the ride to the top. The views from the top were lovely, which reminded me a bit of those from the Montparnasse Tower in Paris.
Returning to the ground floor, I made my way to the Operhaus with my host for a look before heading back to the heart of the city– by then, it was getting dark, which was just in time for the Christmas market lights to come up. It was utterly magical at the Römerberg and Paulsplatz, which pleasantly surprised me. We wandered around the squares before popping into a cafe where I got to try the Frankfurter Kranz, a three-layered cake with cherry jam and lots of buttercream frosting– it was delicious!
We got some Glühwein (mulled wine) at the Christmas markets before heading along the shopping district of Frankfurt to take the train back to my host’s house. It was only 18:30 when we left, but it was already dark and we’d been out all day, so a good rest was much appreciated. Upon returning home, we had tea together and, after chatting a bit, I retired to bed.
The following morning was my last one in Frankfurt: I would be catching an early-afternoon bus to my next destination in Germany, so I didn’t do much with my host beforehand except take a stroll along the nature-y part of his neighborhood and getting lunch at the mall. We said goodbye at the S-Bahn stop, and from there I left my host at noon for the bus station near the Hauptbahnhof.
It’d been a short two nights, but I was able to see almost everything I needed to see in Frankfurt. Turned out to be an unexpectedly-fun time, as I hadn’t anticipated the city’s reputed industrial, modern skyline to hold a charming old town square (despite it not being the original). There were parts which were beautiful, and I enjoyed my stay there.
— The Finicky Cynic
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