Frankfurt am Main | A Weekend in Mainhattan

Frankfurt, this is the place where I started my career as a flight attendant and where I spend almost six and a half years living in between flights. Back then, it surely was not my favorite place to be. But as May 2017 had already been some sort of trip to the past with my earlier visit to Dusseldorf, I decided to plan a romantic weekend around my birthday celebrations with my love in the city where it all began. And guess what? It has been better than ever…

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Since Frankfurt lies only about half an hour flight away from Munich, it is quite recommendable to bridge the distance rather by train than by plane. The very comfortable ICE trains link both cities on an hourly base and offer free WiFi and the Maxdome onboard entertainment makes the 3 1/2 hours journey pass like nothing. I do recommend to travel first class though as the seats are wider and it is way more quieter than in the second class wagons.

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One thing that should definitely be part of your Frankfurt adventure is a visit to the Alte Oper in the evening. It is well recommendable to check the schedule and the performances well in advance as seats normally sell fast. The beautiful building was built in Neo Renaissance style back in 1880 and it is located prominently in the downtown area. It is mainly used for concerts and vocalists and even though the interiors are not as glamorous as the outer facade promises (it was heavily destroyed during WW 2, rebuilt and received a typical 1970´s fitting), it is a wonderful experience and a must do while you visit. We attended the Italian Opera Gala concert with a selection of rather unknown composed pieces (at least to me) and the highly talented Olga Romanko.

A place that I used to go back then once in a while for extraordinary cocktails and long drinks with one of the best views in Frankfurt was the 22nd inside the Eurotheum. This skyscraper used to host executive apartments only and was a very exclusive residential complex. I was a little bit surprised to see that it had been converted into a hotel these days, but the bar remained. Just the crowd had noticeably changed. Back then, it was a luxurious hideaway for the chic and stylish, today most of the tables were filled with teens and twens sitting the entire evening in front of one drink. But the view remains the same and even though we were completely overdressed in our tuxedos that night, the quality of the bar and their drinks was still highly satisfying! Their Moscow Mule and King Creole are very recommendable.

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Another place that is so much fun to visit during the day is the Kleinmarkthalle. Just around the corner from Hauptwache, this public market bursts with delicacies from around the world. I could spend hours there to walk the narrow alleyways and sample the different foods on offer. On the upper gallery, you can even sit down and choose from a wide array of cuisines while watching the hustle and bustle downstairs.

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Frankfurt is fantastic for shopping, even if it is only window shopping or for watching people. Goethestrasse is the city´s Rodeo Drive and a colorful melting pot for the rich and those wannabe´s. Definitely worth a stroll and quite a show sometimes.

Very popular with the locals and also quite busy during the whole day/evening is the so-called Freßgass. This 200 meters long section between Opernplatz and Börsenstrasse hosts one restaurant, bar and deli next to the other. It is also the venue for many street and food festivals and is a highly popular socializing spot.

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A fantastic view onto the skyline and absolutely for free can be enjoyed from the top terrace of the Galeria Kaufhof department store right at Hauptwache. Too bad this spot is only accessible during store hours as it would be an awesome rooftop bar in the evenings. During the day, it serves as a self-service buffet restaurant and there is comfortable seating outside on the terrace. Definitely worth a stop for taking a break from running around.

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One of the most photographed places in Frankfurt is the Römer. The square is named after the city hall which dates back to the 15th century and is a very touristy spot. I would recommend to make a short halt there, but that is about it.

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The Zeil is Frankfurt´s main shopping street and one of the most strongest in sales commercial venues in Europe. It is a complete pedestrian zone and hosts one of the most spectacularly designed shopping malls: MyZeil.

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Something that I consider an absolute must do while visiting is taking a river cruise on the Main River (stream up or stream down). This is a very scenic activity which provides you with amazing panoramic views onto the skyline from the water while enjoying a typical piece of Frankfurter Kranz cake. The ships leave close to the Eiserner Steg bridge and also offer day trips to destinations such as Ruedesheim or Koblenz. We took Primus Line which came at 9,45€ per person for the 50 minutes cruise. They also have BBQ, After Work or Skylight tours on offer.

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Definitely one of my favorite places, particularly during the summer months, is the Mainufer, the shore. This has always been a popular meeting point for picnics and is a beautiful leisure venue for people to enjoy their day off laying in the grass or simply to take a walk. There are lots of bars to get a drink at and it is constantly a venue for open air festivals or other events.

The Eiserne Steg is probably the oldest bridge that links both sides of downtown Frankfurt with each other. It is also called the “Bridge of Combination Locks” and one of the most important landmarks in the city.

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If you love architecture and viewing platforms, do not miss to go up Maintower for spectacular 360 degree panoramas of Frankfurt! On clear days, you can even see as far as the airport and the Taunus hill range. The entrance is 7,50€ per person and if the weather permits, you can feel on top of Frankfurt in the open air. Amazing! Check the building´s website in advance if the platform is open or not. Best time is in the morning . During sunset it can get very, very crowded.

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Eating local is one of the most important things to me when traveling. Three major things that are quite typical for Frankfurt and the entire federal state of Hessen are the Äbblewoi, Handkäs mit Musik and Grüne Soße. Äbbelwoi is an unsweetened apple cider and more or less the national drink of the region. It can be enjoyed pure, as a sour spritz (with sparkling water) or a sweet spritz (with sprite). It does not appear to have too much alcohol at first, but be careful… I know better! Handkäs is a so-called German sour milk cheese which is very high in protein and low in fat. It is a typical appetizer  in the region and is served with chopped onions, vinaigrette and caraway seeds along with a slice of bread and butter. The “music” relates to the fact that this combination may encourage you to distend and may produce a higher risk of flatulence. Grüne Soße, or salsa verde, is also a very traditional dish from Hessen. The real Frankfurt-style sauce consists of exclusively seven herbs (parsley, chives, chervil, borage, sorrel, garden cress and salad burnet). It is enjoyed cold and comes mostly with hard-boiled eggs and potatoes or with rye bread only. A very refreshing dish on hot summer days!

Best Worscht in Town started out as a small food truck and grew into a multi-national enterprise over the last decade. It offers a wide selection of typical sausages as well as the classic Frankfurter Rindswurst, a beef sausage. One of the reasons why the brand became so famous is the fact that you can spice your sausage dish to up to 1,200,000 Scoville which is somehow crazy. Their branch at Grüneburgweg in the Frankfurt Westend is my favorite location though since it was the original one and just around the corner from my apartment back then.

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One thing that I realized when heading back home after the weekend was that there actually was so much more to see and explore, but the time was just too short. It was nice to learn that the city had changed so much to the better since I have last been and this definitely was not the last time that I had come here.

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