Reflecting on this day trip, I think if I had a week to travel around Germany I would probably skip Frankfurt. But seeing as James and I are still without cars, we chose to hop back on the train on Sunday and traveled about half an hour northeast to pay a visit to this neighboring major city. The regional train was jam-packed with passengers, most of whom had also brought a suitcase (or a cello) to travel back to the airport. I thought that being squeezed shoulder-to-shoulder with everyone would make it easier to stand, but it turned out that I still needed to reach across and over several people to grab the nearest pole for balance. Fortunately we weren’t standing in the bendy straw-like joint of the train – every time we went around a turn those passengers had to press themselves against the ribbed form of the shifting wall.
Like many of the recent days here, Sunday was chilly and mostly overcast. It even sprinkled a bit, off and on. We decided to introduce ourselves to Frankfurt by way of a Hop-On Hop-Off bus. We sat on the upper level for a nice view of the Main River, museums, stock exchange district, and opera house. There wasn’t anything of particular interest to hop off for, plus the rain combined with the cold made walking around uninviting. Instead we listened to the English audio tour with plug-in headphones and learned a little about Frankfurt’s history. Most of Frankfurt was destroyed during World War II so the reconstructed city has a very modern urban feel. In fact, there are many areas of the city currently undergoing construction for the addition of brand new apartment and office buildings.
After the bus tour we did walk around a bit, passing through Frankfurt’s soon-to-be-opened Christmas market. In true modern city style, Frankfurt’s wooden Christmas booths are mostly topped with a big tacky plastic Santa or candle like some Americans set out in their yards. We also headed to Atschel for dinner, a restaurant/bar that serves apple wine, a local specialty. I had tried apple wine once already in Mainz diluted with mineral water because it’s supposed to be an acquired taste. This time I tried it straight, which was so-so. It looks and tastes like hard cider but with a sourer flavor. I also tried Frankfurter Schnitzel, a tasty variation of the traditional meat cutlet served with a green herb sauce. We sat on benches at a long wooden table along with a number of other apple wine-drinkers from Germany and England.
Finally we headed back to the train station to make our back to Mainz. Our final, and perhaps most exciting, adventure in Frankfurt involved thwarting a shoplifter just before it was time to board. There’s not really much to that story, other than that we reported a young man who we saw walk out of a book store with an armload of winter hats.