Editor’s note: it is purely coincidence that our writer Christian ended up in Frankfurt just before my own German odyssey began. In fact, it was his photos on Facebook that got me more excited for my trip to begin. While my time in the city was more spent with museums and historic sites, it is lovely to read about Christian’s meanderings and apfelwein experiences. For my guide to Frankfurt, click here. For more of Christian’s truly joyous writing, click here to visit his index.
I ended up in Frankfurt by sheer coincidence, but I can’t wait to go back. I was planning my trip to a wedding in England, and since I don’t find myself in Europe very often, I figured I’d fly somewhere, and then ramble to England via train. The only reason I flew to Frankfurt was because there are direct flights to Frankfurt from my home in Portland, Oregon. When I travel, it’s not important to me to go to the most famous places, or the biggest cities. I’m more interested in the places in between.
I read a few articles about Frankfurt, and marked a few places I wanted to go on my Google Maps, and then bought our flights. I admit that I was also drawn to Frankfurt because hotel prices are suspiciously cheap (for reference, a daily rate at the Holiday Inn was around $100 in May). There is a huge inventory of affordable, highly rated hotels scattered across the city. I picked a hotel that was above a high-end grocery store, and next to a coffee shop.
When I travel I like to scope out hotels near Whole Foods (or whatever the German equivalent is) because it’s a serious challenge to eat healthy while you’re traveling. Do I love schnitzel? Of course. But I don’t love eating only schnitzel. Frankfurt runs on sausage, but a person needs to eat a vegetable every now and again. Enter: Whole Foods (or whatever the German equivalent is).
When we landed, we walked straight to the train station in the airport. My recommendation, dear reader, is to read about how to buy tickets and how a local train system works before arriving. If you don’t Google it ahead of time, you’ll quickly discover it’s all written in German and that you can’t tell how much you’re spending on a ticket, or where you’re buying a train ticket to. Or maybe I’m projecting.
When the train dropped us off at the hotel, we were pretty much already ready to go to sleep, and a little fussy after buying mysterious train tickets. Nevertheless, I cracked open my travel book. I almost always travel with books. I find them easier than looking things up on the internet, and I like looking through them later. The first suggestion that the book makes for food is a restaurant called Adolf Wagner. The walk over to the restaurant was a nice stroll over the river. The architecture here is an incredible mixture of buildings that are older than the state of Oregon, mixed with modern skyscrapers. Any city that has a river walk, and walkable bridges over a river gets an immediate ten point bonus as far as I’m concerned.
When we got near the restaurant, the restaurant was a little bit hard to find because the street was crowded with bars, restaurants, and cafes. I asked someone where the Dolf Lundgren restaurant was and they politely assured me (via their facial expression) that I was a crazy person. I checked my guidebook, and realized that I had just accidentally asked someone where to find the Swedish actor who famously fought Rocky Balboa in Rocky IV. My mistake.
We found the restaurant – Adolf Wagner – and took an open seat. My wife had read that apfelwein (apple wine) is a popular Frankfurt drink, so we made an effort to order it. The waiter came over and we made our best effort to order apfelwein and some sort of sausage. The waiter seemed like he didn’t completely understand what we were trying to order, but he also seemed as though he wasn’t especially concerned. When he brought over 4 drinks, we realized that we had accidentally ordered traditional white wine, as well as apfelwein. We happily drank our wine and apfelwein while we waited for our sausage (or whatever we ordered) and proceeded to get happily drunk on their outdoor patio.
We ate a terrific late lunch (we had, indeed, ordered sausage), and walked vaguely in the direction of our hotel. We were in no rush, so we decided to drop into one of the many cafes that dotted the streets. This one was French themed. We made our best effort to order wine (any kind would do) and charcuterie. We noticed that the streets here are surprisingly quiet. Even the crowded cafes and bars are a much lower volume than the same type of place in the USA. It’s hard to get drunk in Europe and not be a loud American, but maybe that’s just part of the experience.
We spent the rest of the afternoon in Frankfurt rambling between different cafes and bars, occasionally stumbling by historic churches (these seem to be everywhere in Europe), and drinking apfelwein. Our last apfelwein of the day was served in the cutests little jug you’ve ever seen. We drank it in the historic city center that was once the seat of the Napoleonic government, and now serves more as a place to drink apfelwein and buy souvenirs.
My wife took a picture of me in front of an old church. I’m barely in the crooked photo of a church spire. I think it was the apfelwein, but she’ll tell you it was an artistic choice. Either way, I highly recommend Frankfurt as a place to stay, explore the history, and eat and drink until you’re taking artistic photos.
Like it? Pin it!