8 May 2013

Dipping a toe in to Frankfurt

The train journey from Hannover to Frankfurt was easy, pleasant and relaxing. It also terminated at a magnificent station with several large arches.

The hotel was just across the road so bags were quickly disposed of and the hotel also provided a four day travel pass so I was soon on a tram and heading the kilometre or so in to the heart of the old town.

The short journey there took me through some distinct areas. Next to the station there were lots of ethnic restaurants and cheap shops, then these gave way to a belt of modern offices and pedestrianised streets, before these in turn gave way to the old town.

At the heart of the old town was two squares separated by roads sporting lots of trams. The main square had the Town Hall on one side and this collection of shops and restaurants.

The bar on the right is the one that I chose to rest and enjoy the life in the square. I also had a beer.

Behind the square I found the cathedral.

It was not that special, and I had to clamber around a building site to get there, but I cannot resist a bit of Gothic architecture and this cathedral had plenty.

That was about if for the old town which was a lot smaller than I expected and I was soon out of it. Looking for somewhere else to explore I headed for the river.

The rail tracks along the bank gave testament to the river's industrial path that, in this section at least, had been superseded by park-lands, paths and seats, all of which attracted people, like myself, enjoying the views and a little exercise.

There were always plenty of bridges on view, and I liked that.

The most unusual bridge was almost upstaged by the brick tower on the opposite bank that looked as though it had got lost.

Keen to keep walking but not wishing to leave Frankfurt completely, I turned away from the river once I got to the boundary of the old town. This was a green belt about 50m wide that circled the town.

The roads in to town crossed it regularly dividing the belt in to a series of separate parks, each with its own surprise.

Art and fountains were plentiful despite the out-of-the-way feel to the gardens. It is not just the large open spaces that benefit from such things.

As the sun began to slide down out of site I headed back to the centre of the old town, never that far away, looking for food. And more beer.

That took me unintentionally to the main shopping street that was bustling despite the late hour that meant that none of the shops were open.

Even in the gloom and impending rain it was easy to be impressed by the street. It was pedestrianised, wide, filled with neatly trimmed trees (I guess to provide shade in Summer) and plenty of seats.

Why doesn't Oxford Street look like this?

At the end of the street was a small new square and a large old restaurant with seats tumbling out of it. It was the ideal place for the food and beer that I was after. Vegetarian options were limited but I am not fussy and was quite satisfied with my tarte flambee, a sort of French pizza that I first had in Strasbourg the previous year.

And that was that for my first day in Frankfurt.

I had been walking for a few hours, admittedly with a couple of beer breaks, and it was time to try the hotel bed (why do foreigners fold duvets like that?).

It was a short walk down to Willy-Brandt-Platz to catch a tram back to the station.

The Platz was the last eye-catching thing of the day. It was the hope of the European Central Bank, though they seemed to be building a new one on the other side of town.  Announcing the bank was a large Euro symbol, just by the end of the building on the right.

Frankfurt did quite a lot to please me in the few hours it had to do so. It entertained me with its old town, river, parks and new buildings. The only problem was I thought that I had seen everything and I was going to be there for another couple of days. I need not have worried.

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