“Mainhattan”

For the final day of my brother’s visit, Jan, my brother, my friend K and I headed to Frankfurt am Main, or – as the Germans jokingly like to call it – Mainhattan (because it’s on the River Main and has “skyscrapers” – although nothing compared to the ones in the actual Manhattan, I’m sure!) Our first stop was the German Film Museum. My brother is a Film Studies graduate, so I thought he might enjoy this museum – and I was correct. He told me afterwards that it was nice to see all the equipment in “real life” rather than just as pictures in a text book! The first floor of the museum is all about the history of film and moving pictures, and there are various replica items that you can look through, try out, etc. Upstairs, there’s a bit about actual films with information about various techniques, music, etc. and some computers where you can edit a film sequence yourself or play with music. Finally, on the thrid floor, is a special exhibition, which was about surrealism when we were there. The entire museum was very interesting and we ended up actually having to rush the last floor because we’d booked somewhere else and were going to be late!

After the film museum, we had a booking for an English tour at the Frankfurt version of Dialog im Dunkeln (Dialogue in the Dark). Some of you might remember me writing about my experience with the one in Vienna (if not, you can read it here.) It seems Frankfurt is the original. Here’s a photo my brother took showing the various Dialogues around the world:

Dialog im Dunkeln

If there is one near you I can highly recommend it! I preferred our guide in Vienna, but the experience in Frankfurt was still interesting. Most of the obstacles, etc. were the same (there was even a “boat” at both), but one thing I found interesting in this one was the cafĂ© at the end. In Vienna, it was just a bar, which we stood at and were served by our guide. Here, there were other people working behind the bar and once we’d purchased our drinks, we went and sat at a table, which meant finding our way over there in the dark and sitting down without spilling anything. We had hoped that with four of us booked on the tour we could go in alone, but alas a group of three had also booked an English tour, so we were seven. Not that that’s a problem, but with fewer people I think there might have been more opportunites to actually use our sticks without banging into someone!

By the time we were finished with Dialogue, we were hungry! We’d spotted a Vapianos near where we parked the car, so we decided to go there. For those who don’t know, Vapianos is a chain of Italian restaurants where the food is prepared fresh. Pasta is made in front of your eyes, while if you order pizza you receive a buzzer that goes off once your meal is ready. I chose a white pizza with courgetteand goat’s cheese, which was very nice. Then it was off to town to show my brother around a bit. We parked near the river, so that was our first stop.

You can totally see why it's "Mainhattan", right? ;-)
You can totally see why it’s “Mainhattan”, right? 😉

After a looot of walking, we eventually ended up at the Römer (a mediaeval building that’s now City Hall) – probably the most photographed building in Frankfurt! Of course, I took more photos of it (and the square – Römerplatz), despite the fact that I’ve been there before. And why not? It’s the only part of Frankfurt city centre I actually really like 😉 By the way, the balcony on the Römer is usually where the German football team presents tmeselves when they come back from a competition, except this year they didn’t because the decision was made to have the “welcome back world champions!” celebration in Berlin instead. Random fact for you!

The Römer
The Römer
Römerplatz
Römerplatz

With the Römer done and all of us feeling pretty tired of walking (remember, we’d walked all around the musseum, too!) it was time to head back to the car and home. My brother needed to pack and I had work the next day, so we didn’t want to stay out too late!

And that concludes my series of posts about my brother’s visit. Next stop on my travels: Taiwan!

Frankfurt am Main

Continuing with the travel posts of the last few days (I’d still appreciate any tips for Ireland, by the way), I think it’s time for the next in my 30 German towns before 30 series. Today, it’s off to Frankfurt.

Frankfurt is a city with some very nice areas. Unfortunately, it is also a large and busy city (fifth largest in Germany!), so as well as the old, pretty buildings and cute parks, there are skyscrapers in abundance and lots and lots of cars. As you can tell, I’m not the greatest fan of big cities.

One of Frankfurt’s most important landmarks is the Römer (German for Roman), which is a complex of nine houses, among which is the Rathaus (town hall). The square that the Römer is located on is called the Römerberg.

Römerberg
Römerberg
Rathaus
Rathaus

The oldest and most unaltered building in the Innenstadt (town centre) district is the Eschenheimer tower. It was erected at the start of the 5th century and was originally a city gate.

Eschenheimer Turm
Eschenheimer Turm

The river that runs through Frankfurt is the Main, hence its complete name Frankfurt am Main. This distinguishes it from another Frankfurt – Frankfurt an der Oder, a small town in Brandenburg. It’s also the origin of Frankfurt’s nikname, Mainhattan – a merging of the words Main and Manhattan. The Wikipedia article for Mainhattan tells me that Frankfurt is the only city in Germany to allow the building of “HochhĂ€user” (tower blocks/high-rise buildings) in the city centre.

River Main
River Main

Most of the times I’ve been to Frankfurt have been for some purpose other than sightseeing. For example, the time I took the photo of the river above we were actually there for a football match but decided to go early to have a look around. Here’s a photo of the inside of the Commerzbank Arena, the stadium where Eintracht Frankfurt play.

Commerzbank Arena
Commerzbank Arena

The match we saw was a friendly game between Germany and Bosnia.

Being a large city, Frankfurt of course has many cultural institutions. I went to see Imogen Heap at Batschkapp, a music venue in the Eschersheim area of Frankfurt, and I would have seen Incubus there but the concert was cancelled due to illness. Basically, Frankfurt is the closet possible destination for roughly 90% of the concerts I would like to see (some performers come to Stuttgart and Karlsruhe gets the occasional act that is either less famous or German, but for the most part Frankfurt is the place to be). The city is also home to The English Theatre,  the largest anglophone theatre in continental Europe (although I’ve never seen a play there).

Alte Oper - a former opera house, now a major concert hall.
Alte Oper – a former opera house, now a major concert hall.

Frankfurt is way, way too big for me to ever want to live there, but it’s always worth a visit. There’s so much to see and do, and any number of interesting cuisines in offer. The first time I went to Frankfurt was for an Open University meetup when I was doing a course with them. We ate at an amazing Thai restaurant that I can’t for the life of me remember the name of. And, as I said above, it’s my go-to-place whenever I hear that a major international performer is planning a tour of Germany. I have absolutely no doubt that I will return to Frankfurt at some point in the not-too-distant future… although the next time I’m in the vicinty, the only thing I’ll be checking out is its airport (which is like a miniature city in itself!). And speaking of airports, don’t be fooled by Frankfurt Hahn! That airport is as much in Frankfurt as Stansted is in London… and Stansted is MUCH easier to get to!