Frankfurt airport is one of the busiest in the world. It is huge, like a city or a world unto itself, with people rushing in all directions. One can see and hear every nation on Earth while walking through the halls and transferring from Terminal to Terminal via Skyline, an elevated train which miraculously runs without any human drivers. If you have a moment, look at the field through the glass walls: it seems that every minute, a plane takes off or lands, or both. One can shop, have a nice meal or a snack, buy newspapers, magazines and books in many languages, or just relax.
The first settlements appeared along the riverMain in the Roman times. Frankfurt, in various spellings, is mentioned in many documents since the ninth century, as the seat of emperor’s elections. Today, Frankfurt is an amazing example of the harmonious ‘marriage ‘ between the old and the new, the industrial and the cultural, the local and the international.
Walk along Kaiserstrasse from the main train station until you see an old quaint building called Hauptwache (prison). It is preserved as a monument; today, it is a nice restaurant where one can get a good solid meal before going further. A couple minutes walk from Hauptwache is Zentrum Hotel, which is a convenient place to stay at. But if you happen to come on a Friday or Saturday when the city celebrates some holiday, like Apfelweinfest (feast of apple wine) at the end of August, you won’t be able to sleep at all! People drink, sing and dance in the square all through the night. On Sunday, peace and quiet are back, because everybody is to go to work on Monday.
Goethe, the author of “Faust”, was born in Frankfurt. There are reminders everywhere: Goethe Platz behind the Hauptwache, Goethe Strasse. If you wish to visit the actual Goethe Haus though, leave the Hauptwache behind, walk past Zentrum Hotel along the street for 2-3 minutes, and you will see the house in a side street. It is a wonderfully preserved place, one can see the rooms where the writer lived, portraits on the walls, his library, his garden. There is a nice little café right next door to the house where you can relax afterwards.
If you like museums, Frankfurt is the place for you. Enjoy the sights in Altstadt, the OldTown. When I saw the main square, I understood where all those fairy-tales about Hansel and Gretel, and the gingerbread house, must have originated. Once you cross the river, walk along the Museum Mile, where most museums are located. No matter what your tastes and interests are, you will find something to entertain you. Art and technology, history and the natural sciences, masterpieces of art inside, and dinosaurs outside, statues, roses and decorations in front of the museum buildings and in the yards, there are plenty of attractions for any age.
Old towers, churches, the 13th century cathedral are places to visit, too. One can find the Roman remains, and the reminders of emperor Charlemagne, next door to a church or an old square. Centrally located Zeil, the main shopping street, starts right next to the Hauptwache. There are plenty of trees, flowerbeds, green parks and recreation areas throughout the city. One can walk all around it, or take a tram or a subway. Goethe University campus is huge, and it is a beautiful place to visit, with many shady areas, fountains, green lawns and benches. Like every university city, Frankfurt has several international bookstores, as well as very good British and American bookshops. Frankfurt is also home to the international book fairs.
Museums, beautiful buildings, international cuisine, boat trips, shopping, books… What’s not to like?