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

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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 

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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.

 

 

 

THE FUN IN WEIRD

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On the 29th of September, which then was to be my second week of work, we celebrated “Michaeli Tag”. We did so with the children, as I am placed at a kid orientated voluntary working space. The day was aimed at giving the children a real feel of concepts about this day and why the day ought to be celebrated.

I have found it weird at first. Reason being, that the story behind this day is oddly long but its shortened version is that people (more or less often youth people) on this day fight the evil in the world by eating a dragon baked bread and red grape juice as a symbol of its blood. This evil is said to have been brought by God to the earth. This was actually one of His seven angels. So, this evil invaded the earth therefore, people have to fight it out of the world again, given the need of peace and all good sorts of things.

Preparing for this day and celebrating Michaeli Tag

My colleagues baked the dragon bread with the learners and the process was fun. Wheat was collected, then crashed to take out its seeds. Afterwards these seeds were then put in a wooden grinder in an attempt to produce flour. Which yes, the kids did themselves with a few instructions to get them going. Finally, we got a little flour, allowing us to bake some bread. And most importantly, I am pleased that the children understand the hard work that comes with baking bread and the need to work hard to be able to put some food on the table for all to eat.

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A cart was filled with all the goodies we were going to need for this festivity. This included blankets for sitting down, red juice and water, fruits, bread boards, cutlery and many other things.

The dragon was cut and brutally slaughtered. The blood was drunk. And oh…this was just all a play. We pretended that our dragon bread was a real one and that the red grape juice was its blood. Although this sounds weird, it was also fun.In der Tat Der Drache Brot war köstlich (In fact, the dragon bread and blood was delicious).

Setting such an imagination and teaching children to make a distinction between good and bad, to work on doing good and to also consciously and internally fight the evil in each of them was incredible. Evil in this case does not mean that human beings are evil but means that the world was inherited evil, therefore, one has to search in themselves other than in other people.

Its not a finger pointing exercise but a self introspection kind of approach. This is done by going out on a picnic, but several ways can be initiated.

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