Saturday, July 27, 2013

Steel and glass in Frankfurt

I recently had to go to Frankfurt for two days on work and I think that much time was enough for me to explore the city:). Frankfurt is the commercial capital of Germany and therefore its name crops up all the time but somehow I had never been there previously. Actually, thats not true, the first place I had been to outside India was Frankfurt itself (I had to change plans in Frankfurt) but I don't think that counts:). So when I finally got to go there, I was happy that I could tick off the place (even though there wasn't much history or culture to explore there!).

Opera building: remnant of the past
Frankfurt, as most of the cities in Germany was completely destroyed by bombings during the war. Therefore, even though its an old European city, it has none of the typical European city feel about it. All the buildings are relatively new and modern. Apparently, its a great place to stay since its well planned, open and comfortable but it is still a very modern, steel and glass place and not somewhere I would like to stay in.

City center
I visited Frankfurt in June and as a starter, the weather was perfect. It was 25 degrees while London was 15! Also, as I landed at the airport, I saw that all the cab drivers were South Asian - Indian or Pakistani. It reminded me so much of New York! The cab driver was pretty chatty and mentioned that there are lot of South Asians settled around Frankfurt, which I found very surprising. He also went on about how it was better to stay in Frankfurt than London, which I did not agree with as much:).

Inside the cathedral
In Frankfurt, I stayed in the central area and had an hour to explore the city (town?). I just walked down the Zeil street which is the main shopping street of Frankfurt. There were malls and shops on both sides and a couple of cafes to time looking at the passersby. It was nice looking street, and surprisingly very busy for a weekday morning.

Last supper at the cathedral
While walking around, I walked into a cathedral nearby which was made of red stone. The interior was cold and felt mystic. As usual I am fascinated by churches and love to take pictures of their sculptures and paintings. And here is one version of the last supper which I found in the cathedral.

City center
On the other end of the Zeil street was the Frankfurt city center, a small square with some traditional old buildings. There were a couple of outside eating places there but very few vegetarian options. I still braved eating there and honestly was disappointed with the food. Moreover, I am convinced even more that the germans don't really believe in serving with a smile:).

Frankfurt view
As part of the official conference, we also took a short "heritage" tour of the business district. As part of the walk, we went up one of the office towers to get a view of the city. Frankfurt looks beautiful, not too big and with many open green spaces all around. And of course the obvious river flowing through the city. We also saw one of the very few old buildings which survived the war, the opera building. It was beautiful, but felt too out of place in the city!

Panoramic view of Frankfurt

There are a couple of museums in town also if you are keen. I wasn't very interested though. This was all there was to see in Frankfurt though, a small business city, efficient and made of glass but lacking the architecture and narrow cobbled streets of other European towns. It might be a nice city to live in but definitely not a city for tourists!

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