Frankfurt, I think I love you

A view of old and modern buildings in Frankfurt

By the time I moved to Germany in 2010, I’d spent all of my life living in or close to big cities. And after eight years in London, I’d been ground down by stressful commutes in a packed Tube, the high cost of living, and the non-stop, exhausting busyness that life there entails. My new Wiesbaden home, and in particular the quiet, leafy quarter we moved to, was a very welcome change. Life in a smaller, quieter, very beautiful city – a state capital, but one with less than 300,000 inhabitants – filled with thermal baths and cafés and surrounded by forests and vineyards was a stress-free existence in comparison. My commute, when I began work in Mainz, was a leisurely bus-train-walk situation – and on public transport, I always got a seat. It was wonderful.

Eight years on, however, and following a year out from Wiesbaden in another big city (Washington, DC) under my belt, I find myself craving busy city life again. I’m not sure at this point in my life I’d want to live right in the middle of a one again, but I miss the faster pace of life, the restaurants, the museums, the galleries; the atmosphere, the buzz, the pockets of grit and roughness that come with it. And so I’ve recently found myself, more frequently than ever before, hopping on the train to Frankfurt, a 35-minute journey up the tracks from home.

The half-timbered buildings of Frankfurt's Römerberg and the Schirn Kunsthalle behind
Römerberg, Frankfurt, and the Schirn Kunsthalle

It has an unfair reputation, Europe’s financial capital. Long associated with its shiny skyscrapers and the soulless bankers doing whatever it is they do inside them, bar brief annual chattering about its sprawling Christmas markets, there’s little mention of Frankfurt’s beautiful medieval old town (much of it still being rebuilt from its destruction during World War II), its river embankment lined with world-class museums, and its quickly evolving food scene, which several excellent farmers’ markets and excellent restaurants for just about every taste and budget (eight of which currently have Michelin stars) without losing it’s very traditional local food culture. Have spent lots of time exploring Frankfurt a little more attentively over the last few weeks, I think it’s safe to say that I’m falling a bit in love with it.

As a result of my explorations, I’ve some Frankfurt experiences and recommendations I’ll be sharing on here soon, from a proper traditional dinner in an Apfelwein (cider) tavern to a quick stand-up lunch at the city’s legendary indoor market. Stay tuned – and please let me know if you’ve got some tips of your own for me…