Well it’s been a few weeks since my last post as I had to nip back to Ireland due to a family emergency which in the end all ended well, thankfully. So after leaving home again the next stop on this whirlwind tour of Europe is Frankfurt.
I have travelled to Frankfurt once before as part of a work seminar, and I have a few connections there who I felt that it would be lovely to catch up with. Frankfurt is basically the financial centre of Germany, but I was visiting with the intention of seeing a different side. The financial skyline is amazing (especially at night), but I wanted to look around some different bits.
Frankfurt is a great place to go if you do not speak German, as almost everyone in the city will be able to converse with you in almost perfect English. I wanted the opportunity to practice my (slightly rusty) German language skills, but as soon as I showed any sign of faltering, the people that I was trying to converse with would immediately switch to English.
Unlike some of the other cities that I have visited on my trip so far, Frankfurt has a very modern vibe to it. Although there are a few historical attractions, many of the older buildings in the city were destroyed during the war and have now been rebuilt. One of the most impressive historical sites to visit is the city’s cathedral. It was at a cathedral on this site that the kings of the Holy Roman Emperor used to be crowned. In terms of European unity and the concepts of a unified Europe, this site is a very important one.
The cathedral itself has been rebuilt a number of times, due to fire and bombardments, but it retains an amazing gothic style. Likewise, concepts of European unity have been destroyed and rebuilt many times since the Holy Roman Empire. As per usual, I took the opportunity to climb up as many steps as I could so that I could see the city from above. This is definitely becoming a theme for my travels.
I also decided to take a look around the Chinese Gardens, which were looking gorgeous at this time of year. One of the maintenance staff told me that they have had a great season this year for growing, although from our ensuing discussion, he did seem as though he was a perennially perky person. The tagline for the Chinese Garden is that it is a “peaceful place to rest” and it is hard to disagree with this sentiment. There seemed to be many Frankfurters visiting the garden to enjoy their lunch break, even though it had been a rather wet morning.
For those with a literary mind, a trip to the Goethe museum is also well worth it. Goethe is one of Frankfurt’s most famous sons, and you will be able to pick up Goethe memorabilia in every souvenir shop in the city. His original home was another of the historic buildings which was destroyed by shelling during the Second World War, but a German charity has painstakingly restored the house so that it resembles the original as it looked whilst Goethe was alive.
I have loved Goethe since school (when we studied some of his work in our German language classes), and this visit gave me the perfect chance to imagine him in his Baroque bourgeois lifestyle. The restoration of his study was particularly inspiring for one who enjoys putting (metaphorical) pen to paper. Of course, I went out and bought some of his works “auf Deutsch” to keep me entertained for the rest of my trip. I guess I better go and brush up on my German language skills!