Zooming round Frankfurt

I stayed in the hostel and loafed a bit until lunchtime partly as I was knackered and partly as the weather, frnakly, sucked. Harsh winds and periodic downpours made the outside world a very unexciting prospect.

Still, this was no bad thing as I ploughed through the book I was reading and tinkered on the PSP for a while. The people in the hostel wre all chatty and I got nattering to a small group. Lunchtime rolled around I and suddenly realised how hungry I was so I went on aa KFC-seeking mission.

I failed. I should have Googled before I went searching as there is definitely at least one, but after an hour or so I still hadn’t located it. In desparation (my stomach was growling and my eyesight wobbling with hunger) I settled on Burger King. Unusually, they accept US Dollars as well as Euros, and I found this is the case in Berlin as well. Only BK – nowhere else.

Unfortunately, I didn’t do the postcard thing for which I apologise as it’s the first country I’ve been to where I’ve not mailed cards to the chosen few back home. The thing is, I was planning on going to Poland then bouncing back into Berlin. A few days later, though, I found that the transport on the day I wanted to go to Berlin was chocka, so I had to knock that on the head. I will be in Germany again as part of The Walk so I’ll sort them then. And the KFC.

Back at the hostel, I’d signed up for a free walking tour and our guide stepped us out into the slightly warmer outdoors for a ninety minute stroll. It was pleasant enough (excepting the occasional downpour), but Frankfurt’s not the most touristy of cities. We saw a couple of cathedrals, some beautiful old buildings and some reconstructed wooden ones on the town square. I lost count of the times our guide told us of buildings which weren’t there any more as they were bombed in the war. I didn’t know whether to apologise or tell him it was their fault for invading Poland.

Sadly, it’s true that a lot of Frankfurt’s older structures – in particular the wooden ones – perished during WWII. A sad fact is that if one wooden building catches ablaze, then the entire terraced street will follow.

A handful remain and they truly are lovely. The old city square was left three times its old size until around the 1970s as the council decided to leave the flattened land “open” as a reminder of what happens when war breaks out. Finally, they decided that the lesson had been learned (we hope) and funded the rebuilding of a set of “replica” houses in the same spot as the originals had stood. The slight problem was that modern-day architects thought they were cleverer than the original builders and cut a few corners, making their reproductions more “efficient”.

Needless to say, one of them ended up being braced, partially collapsing and then being demolished and rebuilt according to the original several-hundred-year-old specifications. They’re still standing now, though I doubt the architect in question has quite washed the egg off his face yet.

Most of the features of modern-day Frankfurt are tall bank buildings. It’s the economic centre of Germany and in pursuit of this, they demolished several beautiful building-fronts to make way for glass towers. Fortunately, this practise seems to have stopped with newer buildings making use of those fronts, or being far enough away as to not require their pummelling.

On the walk, I got talking to a couple of American guys (Yuri and Slaytan – what a pair of names!). We arranged to go for dinner in a German pub a small walk away and indulged in wonderful German cooking. I had a pork chop with veg and fried potatoes. Great stuff. And good beer as well.

Beer seemed a good idea, so we sat in the hostel when we got back and worked our way through all the beers the bar sold. Then went round the corner to a bottle shop and tried a few more. By now we had a small crowd, and decided to giggle at the red light district (even a couple of women joined us).

Well, the beer’s expensive in those bars. And the entertainment’s rubbish – I’d rather watch telly. It didn’t stop us walking around until almost 3am, though. Thanks to Alex and Slaytan for keeping me company so I didn’t fall asleep and miss my airport bus!

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