Monday, September 26, 2011

In Frankfurt-am-Main, the Only Day

Frankfurt feels like a mere whistle-stop. It's a Sunday, so most shops are closed - still haven't been able to buy a casual jacket. The good news is that the weather is spectacular again, with blue skies and temps into the 70s.

Here's the Hbf in Frankfurt:

The cool thing I noticed about Frankfurt right away is that it has some genuinely old buildings juxtaposed with ultramodern ones. More survived the bombings of WWII.

I decided to plan my time carefully. I wanted to take the only direct train to Heidelberg the next day (Monday, 9/26) which leaves at 10:20 AM. The other options required one or more train changes and significantly more travel time. That being said, I was smart enough to have read my travel guides and I knew that the museums were all closed on Monday anyway. So I had my plan -- I arrived in Frankfurt at about 10:45 AM; my hotel was relatively close to the Hbf so it didn't take me too much time to locate it -- and, wonder of all wonders, my room was ready and I was able to check in immediately.

The bathroom is half the size of the rest of my room, but everything's clean and neat. There's another mini fridge, too, so you know I stocked it with some bier from the store down the Strasse. The necessities dealt with, I executed my grand scheme.

I wanted to hit three museums; I had five hours before they all closed at 6 PM. They are all located relatively close to one another, like Museum Island in Berlin. My hotel is also located relatively close to the museum area. Perfect. What a great planner I am.

All three of the museums I wanted to explore, the Historisches Museum Franfurt, the Archaeologische Museum, and the Museum fur Angewandte Kunst were closed for renovation. My guidebook certainly didn't tell me about that. Seems as though late September is when cultural exhibits are refreshed in Germany, it being off-peek for German citizens. My business partner, Kathleen, is probably chuckling right now, because I didn't check out the websites for the museums in advance - I'm sometimes hopelessly chained to the printed word in an electronic age.

I really wanted to see the archaeological museum, and the museum of applied arts. Too bad. Instead I brought forward my plan for early Monday morning and went to the altstadt - the old center of town.

The old-time center has actual old buildings alongside reproductions faithfully made of the buildings that stood there before the War. It was pretty cool, and it was packed with tourists. The incessant sunshine didn't help with my sunburn from yesterday, though.

It was a good time for a late lunch, and there were plenty of offerings. I wandered about and carefully chose the perfect vendor of sausages and potatoes - wait, all anyone sold was sausages and potatoes, and, of course, beer. Here's what I had:

It's a sausage with a potato salad-like mound (very yummy, though) and a fresh roll. Oh, and a bier. Only Sallys have a Coke. While eating I met an older woman whose husband was in line at the food stand. She in her broken English (of which she was obviously very proud) and I in my very poor German, exchanged greetings and more. She was eyeing my end of the table and I moved over and beckoned her to join me. She smiled and sat down. I said, "Die Sonne ist warm" straight out of my Rosetta Stone lessons. She laughed and said, "Ja, Sie haben ein rotes _____(insert German word for face)" - translation, you've got some color to your face. We were inseparable buddies from that point on. She told me that her sister-in-law lives in Virginia and that she has visited her there. I told her that I was from Boston (close enough, really) and I was a spice merchant. A little white lie can't hurt, can it?

I took a long walk back from the altstadt, along the river Main.

Very pretty, and very warm. I quickly took out my sunglasses, as the rays were brutal. I prayed to Zeus for a hat, but he said not to be silly, the Europeans don't wear hats. I don't understand why - at this latitude, the noontime sun doesn't make it even close to above your head. It's angled sharply and you get hit with it straight-on. Sunglasses only work so far; if I had had a hat, I could have seen where I was going.

I apparently made it to the Lost World, because soon enough I was seeing palm trees and other tropical plants. I remember, when I took a trip to Ireland with good friends back in 1999, that I was shocked to see palm trees in Ireland. I'm less shocked to see them in Frankfurt, but it still seems like a conceit to me.

This guy, leaning against the wall, was staring at the Kaiserdom, or Imperial Church, where the Holy Roman Emperors were crowned from the 16th through 18th centuries. The church was already old back then, having been built and improved upon beginning from the 13th century. Really cool to wander around it and admire the architectural and decorative details.

The blue sky was unstoppable today, and the forecast for tomorrow here and in Heidelberg calls for bright sunshine with temps in the upper 70s. This trend is supposed to continue through the remainder of my stay, cooling a bit to the low 70s by Thursday. Maybe I won't buy that jacket, after all.

I had dinner at an English language Irish pub not too far from the Hbf - bangers and mashed - best I've ever had. I watched portions of the Patriots game there (1 PM game time was 7 PM for me); by portions I mean that it was the Red Zone satellite coverage - they would switch to a different game whenever a team was in scoring position. I saw the Pats up three scores but I didn't stay to the end. Checking the news this morning, it would have been a good but disappointing game to have watched in it's entirety.


1. TP is still rectangular.

2. Frankfurt is brighter than Berlin, but not as well-lit as either Amsterdam or Hamburg.

3. Frankfurters (the people...) seem friendlier and happier than the Berliners, though not as happy as the Hamburghers or the Dutch.


  1. Hi Ken! It just proves that sometimes planning can be overrated. Look at all that you got to do and see on a beautiful sunny day!

  2. Thanks, Kathleen, you're diplomatic as usual ;)



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