A stroll along Frankfurt’s River Main and Old Town…
What do you do in a foreign city when the museums and stores are closed? You find a pub. We arrived in Frankfurt on a late summer afternoon and were only staying for the night so there wasn’t much time to indulge in the usual tourist pastimes. Trying to make the most of that one evening we decided to take a meandering walk along the River Main towards Old Sachsenhausen, Frankfurt’s apple wine quarter. This neighborhood is well known for its restaurants and tavern-style pubs.
Frankfurt’s metro does a pretty good job of covering the entire city so it isn’t difficult to get around. Getting out at the Stresemannallee Station we walked towards the river. The south side of the riverbank is known as the Museumsufer due to the large concentration of museums and art galleries along the waterfront. On a previous layover in Frankfurt we had visited the Liebieghaus which hosts a beautiful collection of sculptures and has a lovely little courtyard cafe where you can relax after sightseeing.
There is a pathway along the riverbank where you can walk in the shade of some frankly bizarre looking trees reminiscent of Baobabs. However, we wanted to get away from the noise of the traffic and decided to go down closer to the water. Below street level, a pedestrian promenade offers great views of the downtown skyline. We passed plenty of people just relaxing on the grass or park benches, drinking beer and enjoying the end of the day.
Eventually we arrived at the Alte Brucke (Old Bridge) and from there we headed south to the apple wine quarter. We knew the district was popular for its bars and restaurants but we were surprised by the sheer number of people on the streets and outdoor patios. The largest crowds were in front of the televisions — every single TV we passed had an audience clustered around its screen, even in the tiny family owned corner stores. Completely by coincidence we had arrived on the day of the final match for the UEFA Championship Cup and the two teams in the playoffs were both German clubs. Needless to say, Frankfurt was in a fanatic frenzy!
We managed to find a small pub off the beaten track called Struwwelpeter (named after a German children’s book which makes the brothers Grimm seem cheery by comparison). The atmosphere was very inviting with soft lighting, rafters overhead and long tables like the ones you would imagine in old dining halls. We got a real taste of traditional German fare when they brought us plates heaped with meat and large glasses of beer and apple-wine. I could barely finish the schnitzel I ordered but the food was delicious and I recommend this place to anyone looking for an authentic experience. Just be sure to come with a ready stomach.
After dinner we wandered towards the Old Town, mind you at a much more sedate pace, crossing over the Old Bridge. The cobblestone streets of the apple wine quarter and the Old Town really transport you through time and at night the shadows make everything just a little bit more mysterious. We passed through a small park and between the trees we saw the bell tower of the Kaiserdom Cathedral where crows were circling overhead and cawing into the dark blue sky.
It was pretty quiet around the Kaiserdom and even the famous Romerberg Square, historic centre of Frankfurt, was relatively empty of people. Colourful medieval-style buildings circle the plaza where at the centre there is a lit up fountain with the figure of Justice holding a set of scales and gazing at the City Hall. We lingered in the square for a while admiring the streetlights playing over the cobblestone before continuing on.
Not too far from the historic Old Town there is a huge pedestrian shopping strip called the Zeil. Although shopping hours were over the Zeil was crowded with people and the closer we got the noisier the streets became. It seems like we had chosen the perfect day to have our layover in Frankfurt because as it turned out there was a free rock concert happening in the middle of the Zeil. All of Frankfurt was partying for one reason or another that night and we had been fortunate enough to wander right into the middle of it.