FRANKFURT AM MAIN: A MELTING POT IN THE BECOMING

A concrete jungle of culture,

diversity and a different indifference,

embedded in influential educational institutions- talk about Goethe University and the like,

A financial hub of commerce and culture…

from busy to not busy streets, less experience to expensive, to men in less formal to formality.

A metropolis, to which explored.

Frankfurt am main. A city culturally and ethically diverse. From a shift from a busy street, dirtied by waste from food stands and small businesses; to less crowds and sounds of people in conversations; to posh, big business skyscrapers, suits and further, a mixer of both spheres.

So is my view after my 2nd visit in Frankfurt am Main. My first visit was unintentional and a quick stop during my trip to Karlsruhe for my second seminar aimed at teaching about politics in Germany.

It was due to the Deutsche Bahn (abbreviated for DB), Germany´s railway company. I and a colleague were inconvenienced with a train to break down at just know-where. According to announcements after what seemed to be an over 1 hour 30 minutes stop, we were stuck 10 minutes or so away from Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof (main train station). Which, with so much delay was to at least try to get to the main station, allowing passengers to find alternative transports or connections.

Our arrival there meant trying to get a connection to Karlsruhe without noting what Frankfurt am Main looked like. I at least spotted a few things. We finally got a train in what was so chaotic with travel times changing. One could see how one broken train can cause a sudden disturbance to other travelling trains.

This was my experience. Even so, during my first experience using Intercity Express (ICE). I had been waiting in anticipation, perhaps.

But soon even without knowing, I had started planning a trip heading there. This time intention and aimed at better view of Frankfurt am Main and a few days excursions.

It was fantastic and of course these my experiences and maybe through my own, I can make suggestions to the next generation of volunteers, young tourists and people who are avidly touring. This is a list of different places to visit or what to eat and or generally can do do when visiting this city. The list will be continuously amended, expanding it.

  • Bahnhofsviertel (city district)
  • Münchener Straße
  • Willy Brandt Platz
  • Alte Oper
  • Goethe Platz und Denkmal (memorial)
  • Zeil
  • Kleinmarkthalle und Fleischwurst bei Frau Schreiber (Market hall and sausages sold by Mrs. Schreiber)
  • Frankfurter Paulskirche
  • Römer
  • Altsachsenhausen (city district)
  • Bornheim (city district)
  • Apfelwein Solzer
  • Handkäs’ mit Musik

Food and drinks (traditional)

  • Grüne Soße (Green sauce)
  • Apfelwein (Apple wine)

*Photo credit: Frankfurt Skyline

THINGS YOU SHOULD SEE IN AACHEN: MY TOP THREE

Aachen, also known as Spa of Kings, is a city in far middle east of Germany next to boarders of Belgium and Netherlands. Full of student energy. Perhaps, a great city to visit if you miss being on campus or a youth driven atmosphere.  Given the presence of Aachen University, at least 50 percent of people residing there are young and go to the university, while the other half accommodates other people outside this category.

Besides this, I am so trilled how Aachen has an amazing chieftaincy embedded history. This history about it leaves it’s visitors spell bound.

My impression of this city is that should one visit Aachen, these are a must do:

1 Three-Country Point 

three-country-point

I suspect Aachen feels more or less like a three country boarder place than just typically a city as known. It feels like a city in three countries given its connection and link to Belgium and Netherlands. The Three Country Boarder, know as Drieländerpunkt (in German) is one of the worlds popular triple points. The Three-Country Point is located is located on Vaalserberg (“Mount Vaals”). Vaals is a city on southeastern part of the Netherlands and only 5 km (3.1 mi) west of the city centre of Aachen. There is convenient buses to this location but I think one of the interesting parts of this journey is when you walk through borders on foot. The position where these two countries are separated is interesting to see. Walking for a couple of minutes to the highest point of Vaalserberg can enable you to visit each of these countries from there. There is a tower offering a grand panorama of the surrounding landscape there. You can go to the roof of this tower, which is 300 higher, and have a great view of all these three country at a same time. In addition, there is a symbolic circle where three flags of these countries hanged and people do photography with them. That is a unique experience to be in three different countries and a specific point of time.

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2 Aachen Cathedral

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Talk about a sacred destination. And, this cathedral is an example of one of the most famous occidental architecture. Well according to Aachen´s tourism offices, this cathedral is “It is the coronation church of more than 30 German kings, burial site of Charlemagne, major pilgrimage church and cathedral church of the Aachen diocese since 1930”. And that, when the Emperor Charlemagne built his representative “Pfalz”, the Palace, before 800, he started to make his dream of Aachen as a “new Rome” come true.

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You need not be religious, this site is worth seeing.

Of course there is more than just these two favourite two things I saw in Aachen. The list is endless. For suggestions, I think seeing the The Elisa Fountain would be great. It was a mecca for the royalty of Europe keen to take the cure. Trying a bit of cultural food in Aachen is also ideal. I tried some Aachen Printen, which I bought home too to my host family. This is a kind of hard, spicy biscuit, made in a mould and bearing an imprint of a person or scene. Delicious! They bake it with a delicious mix of cinnamon, aniseed, clove, cardamom, coriander, allspice and ginger (the proportions are secret). Although, I am no fan of cinnamon, I think this is a great flavour combination.

Ending this on a good note, I think I would like to term Aachen as not just a city but a city in three, literally cutting across three countries: Germany, Belgium and Netherlands.

 

 

 

LETS TALK FOOD: WHAT TO TRY AND WHAT NOT TO

In the days that I have been here, I have been asked the ‘How does the food taste in Germany?’question more than about my well being. Well, this serves as really not a problem for me. But a question of interest.

An academic doctor friend of mine during a breakfast chat cracked a joke before I left South Africa for Germany saying I probably need to leave town with some food enhancing concoctions. Alleging that German food is tasteless. Well, I would not crack the same joke. Or even, expand on it.

My experience here thus far with food has really been much of my choice, therefore, playing safe. If you know what I mean. But, at the same time, I have also tried much to much for 22 days that I have been here. My thought is, I have had the worst food nightmare and the greatest days with food.

For me, a good typical day is a potato or vegetable day- trying all sorts of veggies out there. Often with different colours I have not seen before. Like purple carrots, purple tomatoes, some awkwardly shaped kohlrabi and so much delicious dark bread. A typical bad day meal may have included trying something meaty but ewyyy sorry, it has pork. But this is the least.

Five things I suggest you try when you are in Germany are: 

  1. Obviously the bread

Big up to Germany for its creation of some 300 or so types of bread, from the Vollkornbrot, the Roggenbrot and the legendary Pumpernickel, to mention just a few. These come in different sizes and prices. Included in these are a variation of what we call rolls or buns in South Africa, here termed as Brotchen.

brot-22. Kräuter-Tomate Streich

This a must try. This is a tomato made bread spread. Looks like fish paste but definitely not it and does not smell like it. Simply because it is not fish. It is tomato. The kids love it. I recently started liking it.

streich

3. Schinkeknacker 

This is more like dried meat. It looks like sausages. Oh well, they are sausages but dried. More like biltong. Biltong in this case is far harder. Schinkeknacker is not so hard but really delicious. Just watch out if they do not contain pork contents, if you are allergic to it. I am allergic to pork and often they are pork flavoured. Anyway, it seems to me that Germany is not only a bread country but also a place where people like pork meat.

schinkeknacker

4. Marmalade

If you have a sweet tooth and prefer sweet bread spreads, try Marmalade. It generally refers to a fruit preserve made from the juice and peel of citrus fruits boiled with sugar. It can be produced from lemons, limes, grapefruits, mandarins, sweet oranges, and other citrus fruits, or any combination of them. It looks like jam as we know it. I at least call it jam but it has pieces of fruit in it and is sweeter than regular jam.

marmalade

 

5. Kräuter Salz 

This is not food but thank God kräuter Salz, literally flavoured salt with herbs can help give tasteless food  or rather unusual food some taste. If you find yourself in such a predicament, ask for kräuter salz.

krauter-salz

Things I suggest you try, but were my day-mare 

Knäckebrot

This is worth a asking to Swedish people, who invented this and what the hell is this? Jokingly, of course. Knäckebrot in German, Crispbread in English is a flat and dry type bread containing mostly rye flour. They are light and keep fresh for a very long time. They are also a staple food. However, in recent years there has been renewed interest in crispbread in the Nordic countries. This is a no no for me. But do not get this wrong, cripbread is available in South Africa. I avoided it there and, I am more certain that I wont eat it here.

k-brot

Grünkohl

This is one of many German traditional meals. I tried it at Harz in a company of wonderful German gentlemen and women who were aiming to teach me other things about their home country and their culture. I really appreciate it. Unfortunately Grünkohl, known as kale or leaf cabbage is a darker and thicker type of cabbage. It is also stronger in taste. It was great trying a little bit of it, but thanks but no thanks. A good note is, this is healthy.

g-kohl