Saturday, May 14, 2011
Before our still nameless ship even left its docking station on the Main River in Frankfurt, Germany, we were treated to a shore excursion – a two-hour walking tour of the city.
Frankfurt surprised me — I knew little about the city beforehand and had no high expectations.
But guide Jens-Peter showed us a city that pulsed with life and that is routinely rated as one of the most liveable cities in the world.
It is the financial heart of Germany. “Berlin is just theater,” Jens-Peter explained, “ but the real decisions are made here in Frankfurt. It‘s the New York of Germany.”
It is home to the European Central Bank and the birthplace of the Rothschild bank.. “Every third person on the street is a penguin!”
But the banking and commercial nature of Frankfurt is only one face. It is an architecturally exciting place, with inventive modern buildings and skyscrapers as well as beautifully restored half-timbered buildings that have been authentically reproduced. Alhough much of the city was destroyed in WW2, there are areas of the city that have been lovingly recreated.
The Goethe Museum is here. “Few people know that Goethe was rich and handsome and enjoyed women and they like him too. He was the Mick Jagger of his time,” we are told.
Cafes are numerous, the streets are filled with walkers and people on bikes, and the sidewalk restaurants are busy with well dressed people. There’s an active night life, with a disco in an underground former subway station and one in a garage that has been transformed into a sandy beach.
Die Kleinmarkthalle, right in the centre of things, is a gourmet delight. It is an indoor market with every type of food you could imagine — free range eggs, sausages, every shape and kind of bread, white asparagus, rare teas and coffees, a riot of fresh flowers and the best organic produce from the area.
Everywhere there are great excuses to sit and enjoy coffee and pastries with a friend. Jens-Peter claims that the best café is Wackers, but every corner offers a “gemultlicht” grouping of tables and chairs, where people are enjoying convivial company and just being out in.their city
This is a lively and attractive city, well worth a visit, especially if you like a vibrant nightlife and distinctive architecture … and coffee and cakes.