Our Latest Adventure, by Rich Paschall
Frankfurt, Germany, or Frankfurt am Main (Frank ford at the Main), is the fifth-largest city, but home to the busiest airport in the country. This is not only because it is home to Lufthansa airline, but also because many other airlines have a major presence there. Almost 65 million passengers pass through the airport each year, making it the busiest airport in Germany and the fourth busiest in Europe.
There are many direct flights to Frankfurt from major US cities, so finding a flight at a good price and transit time is possible through most of the year. If you are visiting Germany or a neighboring country, you will want to consider this airport. Bus and train travel around the region are quick and economical.
In the past when we have headed to Strasbourg, France, we have used the Frankfurt airport for its proximity to our destination. Only once did we stay overnight near the airport with a brief stop in the city. We had considered the city to be just a financial center, which it is, and an industrial center. This time we stayed longer to explore the city.
I chose an airport hotel because we could easily take the shuttle back to the airport where you can catch the train into the city. Looking back on this choice, however, you can pick a spot in the city for the very same reason. Transportation by train to the airport is simple because of the major train station right across from the airline terminals. If we would do it again, I would try to stay near Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof station.
The main station in the city is a mix of old-world charm and modern efficiency. Upgrades to the rail system in recent years have upset the reputation of the German railroads always being on time, or “you can set your watch by them,” but they are still reliable and we encountered no delays.
You can stop at McDonald’s in the train station if you like, but we did not come all the way to Germany to eat in an American fast-food restaurant. Our motto for travel has been “eat local, drink local” so of course, that is what we did.
My travel companion on this trip, who is always hungry, needed a food stop when we arrived in the city. We chose a restaurant right alongside the station for convenience. We ordered the Wiener Schnitzel. My friend is from Colombia so he has never eaten food like this. He found it goes well with the local beverage.
Fortunately, the old-world train station survives and is a good spot for pictures before you head off on your exploration of the city. Plenty of tourists were busy taking pictures of the station and surrounding areas. I took a picture of my friend getting a picture of himself. “Selfies” are popular at all the tourist stops.
Frankfurt is a unique blend of old and new. I suppose that World War II is partly a reason for that. Some areas of the city were heavily damaged. Some things were restored, other areas were rebuilt. This allowed for modernization and planning that would improve the quality of life for residents and eventually tourists.
There are many good shopping districts and we made our way to one of them to see what bargains we could find. The outdoor malls our popular and we picked up some items I probably did not need.
We also stopped by the Alte Oper (Old opera) to see the lovely old building. It was heavily damaged in the war and carefully rebuilt through the 1970s. It opened again in 1981 as a concert hall. The opera was already in a new building nearby.
The large plaza in front and alongside is a nice stop for locals and tourists. We took the necessary pictures before stopping inside.
Following our walk around the Opernplatz, my hungry friend needed food so we made our way to the cafe inside the opera house. It was ornate as expected. Aside from the modern elevator in the building, it was hard to determine which parts were damaged and restored and which parts of the building were original.
Berlin, Hamburg, Munich and Cologne are all larger and may hold more appeal for various reasons, but Frankfurt has a charm all its own. With the Main River running through it and a large city forest, it is a beautiful tourist stop. If your flight takes you to Frankfurt, it would be wise to spend a night or two to see the culture and entertainment offered here.
For more pictures from our Frankfurt Adventure, jump over to Sunday Night Blog, here.