2 JAN 2017
“DRINK DRINK DRINK….. YEEAAHH!” is a very effective alarm at 5 AM. Just a few doors down from my room, I believe the party has only just begun. Thankfully, my room seems to be full of fellow day-people. It is really amusing when they, the night-people, try to whisper as they walk past the less active rooms. It is that really noisy, drunken, they-probably-don’t-understand-you-anyway type of whispering.
There is no going back to bed now, so I head downstairs. Mitt, born and raised in Frankfurt and studying film sound design, was the host behind the counter this morning. He is doing inventory on the beer. Apparently, my morning-alarm friends had had 22 Becks, but a sign among the glasses behind the bar reads “Buy 5 shots, get 1 free!” and I am of the assumption that had something to do with it as well.
As Mitt and I discuss school in the states and Australia, the windows steam up from the heat of bread in the oven. There are three ladies all working to prepare the room for breakfast which includes a variety of breads, a choice between pork or chicken sausage, cereal, yogurt, orange juice, tea, cheese, and coffee. I could not have asked for anything more.
After breakfast, Mitt gave me directions to old town Frankfurt. It is a 15-minute walk from the hostel. The crows caw as I pass Hauptbahnhof down Münchener Straße. What I recognize as Bavarian architecture, from time spent in Helen, Georgia, begins to appear on buildings all around me. I follow the sound of church bells ringing in their towers to an old city center, Römerberg. Here sits the Römer, Frankfurt’s city hall for the past 600 years. Before that, it was a merchant family’s home. Across the square is Old St. Nicholas Church. At the heart, Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen, the Fountain of Justice. Justitia, with sword in hand, has weighed the scales since 1543. Except in all that particular time, she bore no blindfold and does not today.
Most of the square was destroyed in an Allied bombing raid during World War II, but was restored and rebuilt. It is a nearly indescribable sense of wonder that I get walking through these age-old towns. I cannot imagine the culture and history that must have passed here. I truly wish I could share it with everyone I know. I would stay here and commune with history’s atmosphere, but time beckons me away.
It is snowing on the Main (pronounced Meh-n as I’m told). I cross over Eiserner Steg, a bridge built in 1868, destroyed by the Wehrmacht in WWII, rebuilt shortly thereafter. Parisian style love locks weave through the railing. Graffiti graces the concrete here and there, the phrase “Stadt für alle” in blue.
I stroll along Sachsenhäuser Ufer to the next bridge east, Alte Brüke. This bridge connects to the small Portikus Island and Commons House. I quickly find my way back to Römerberg Square and promptly search out the only open café, Einstein Kaffee.
Now I sit here hoping the sun will come out, but instead I think the clouds will only go from gray to white. It is about 10 AM, and I will stroll around old town once more to take some photos then head back to Frankfurt Hostel.
A guest of the hostel suggested that I try to find a place to eat in Sachsenhausen, a small area in Frankfurt just south of the Main. Apfelwein Wagner had good reviews online and was located in Sachsenhausen. A 20-minute walk from Kaiserstraße I find the alleyway that leads to the restaurant door, and I’m sat at a table with three women drinking apple wine, a local favorite. I forgot that sitting alongside complete strangers is a thing in Germany. It can be a little awkward at first, but then you quickly get used to it.
The server brings me the English menu, because everything about me screams American I suppose, but I am thankful for not having to Google Translate every item. I’m surprised to find “Apple wine without alcohol” on the menu. That seems interesting, so why not. I start with that and the Hungarian goulash soup, which tastes like really good, well seasoned beef stew. Next I try their schnitzel, Frankfurt style. It, as far as I can tell, is not unlike country-fried steak served with a bowl of the green sauce. The sauce was certainly refreshing. The celery and cilantro in it hit like a bag of herbs punching you in the face. Fun times. The no-alcohol apple wine wasn’t bad at all.
I mulled over the apple strudel on the menu, but decided that Apfelwein Wagner had fattened me enough for one day. A brisk walk back to Frankfurt Hostel, some water to rehydrate, and soon I am in a food-induced nap that takes me all the way to dinner.
My last night in Frankfurt will be spent resting well before the Strasbourg bus arrives tomorrow. I wish I had had more time and knowledge of the places I went to today, but that is the case for everywhere I go. Even in Georgia. There are so many stories, so much history, and an overwhelming sense of life in it all.
Let us see what tomorrow brings.