Sure, I had a rocky start to my solo trip escapades (read: Solo Travel in Paris) but I guess with my second trip, I started getting a hang of it and I thought, ‘Maybe what Kate and Lisa wrote in their blog is all true!’.
This time it was Frankfurt, the industrial hub of Germany, for another business trip. Now, Frankfurt is a place where you can understand the history of its beauty as you stride along the streets. There are more than enough German gentlemen to aid you with whatever you want to know near a big building/cathedrals and enough information to cater your knowledge gap outside a tourist spot. Though I did stumble a little to find the right train to Hauptwache (the name you have to keep in mind, if shopping is your agenda) from my hotel, I eventually figured out a way to operate the German speaking ticket vending machine and the signboards. The big smile on everyone’s face put me at ease .I could easily strike a conversation with the taxi drivers and the people at the Dunkin’ Donuts to find out about the must visit places in Frankfurt and small tips on how to maneuver through the city.
People go to Germany for their sausages and beer but my research before the trip showed me that people go to Frankfurt for their apple wine also called Apfelwein and that was the first thing I crossed off my list during a work dinner at a Mongolian buffet restaurant (talk about diversity!). I must say it is a satisfying substitute to normal beer on a cold day in Frankfurt.
After I got out of Hauptwache station into the Ziel shopping street, the map was only of little help to me since most of the streets were not well directed and that is when I decided to just let it go and walk where the wind takes me (inspiration: all the travel blogs). Thankfully, the city is not immensely big and I always jumped onto a street with a train station or a taxi stand which kept my anxiety, of reaching back to the hotel safely, in check. But, I must confess, the shopping street of Zeil did its part to calm my nerves especially with the winter sales going on at Primark and Mango. Only later when I reached the hotel, I worried about my luggage space. As the bags got heavier, I realized my mistake of shopping first before enjoying Frankfurt’s famous skyline and the Main River but I kept walking yanking the weight of my new clothes.
Moving in and out of each street, I came across Romer, the city hall which was rebuilt post the World War II. More than what the online tourist information says, the grandeur of the hall and the three peaked facade impressed me. The famous Romer balcony which is used as a public stage for many personalities helped me imagine the crowd it drew every time.
The Dom, a great gothic cathedral can be seen as far away from Zeil Street. Even though the original interiors were completely consumed by the fire during the late 80s the reconstruction done in 1950 is still admirable. It is possible to enjoy the skyline of Frankfurt from a height of 95 meters on The Dom and I would have done that had it not been for the chilly wind and the heavy bags.
Keep moving straight and you will see the Main River with people jogging in groups. It is not difficult to spot the Eiserner Steg, a cold steel structured pedestrian bridge connecting you to Sachsenhausen, the nightlife neighborhood of Frankfurt which has too many places to eat, drink and be merry. As I walked through the bridge, I spotted the love locks like in Paris and this was such a pleasant surprise to me due to my poor research initially. With a couple of people singing and playing the violin at each end of the bridge, the entire mood of the pedestrians changed and they glowed love and warmth.
Kleinmarkthalle, a food market of sorts, is a must visit and brings out the gourmet chef inside you; the variety of sausages, cheese and the various kind of ingredients and food on display here will make your mouth water. Inspite of stopping at a small cafe before Kleinmarkthalle to fill my tummy, I had to open up my wallet for the delicious smell, not once but twice before I finally got out.
More trotting along the streets, ignoring the hundreds of museums and the tourist queues, I came to a place where I realized why Frankfurt deserved to be called ‘Mainhatten’. The Main Tower is the only skyscraper that is open to the public and if you want to enjoy a great view especially during sunset, do head up there. Great views can also be seen from the many different bridges, especially the Eastern Bridge.
By now, I realized that winter days are really short as it started getting dusky around 4pm. Balancing more sausages and a hot chocolate along with all the shopping bags, I realized my day is over and its time to give my tired self a break. On my way back to the hotel in Kronberg, I spotted a shopping mall but my tired brain just marked the location in my head for a quick visit the next day. True to the reviews of Main-Taunus Zentrum mall, this place was a treasure for me, walking distance from my hotel with everything from food to flowers to clothes, even a post office to post all my postcards to my friends.
This time I left Europe with a sense of victory of conquering the fears of unknown while travelling alone. Sure, you need to take a little care of your safety and be ready to loosen the purse strings when its a choice between hiring a cab or a train at night but overall I did enjoy the place and most importantly I enjoyed the place alone.
*If you need any information about my travel to Frankfurt and the accomodation, do feel free to contact me. Happy to help!
**Source of featured image: unknown. Shows the Christmas Market at Romerberg