As much as I try to travel without preconceived notions, offering each new city a clean slate, stereotypes inevitably eek their way in and I usually have some expectations of a place. For me, Germany seemed like a strict, harsh country full of rigid, intimidating people. What I found instead was a certain delicacy that I didn’t expect…an openness and welcoming that I was pleasantly surprised by, and a spaciousness we hand’t experienced in other European cities.
We were in Frankfurt just under a week, but it was plenty long enough to understand why our friends and family who had traveled there urged us to go. The city is beautiful, spacious, and tidy. The people are courteous, and had no discernible qualms about speaking fluent English with us, which was a major treat in itself.
*edit: I’d be remiss in my blogging if I didn’t also admit the comfort I found, for the first time since leaving Phoenix, in being in a city where people look like me. Being rather ethnically ambiguous, it’s easy for Sean to blend in throughout western Europe. Not I, however. My people are the tall and pale–the broad shouldered, strong legged, fair haired and freckled ladies. We’re the bright red cheeks in the cold wind, the two steps to your three, the ones who never even ask for piggyback rides. In Frankfurt, I was well met.
The food is high quality and delicious, without being markedly more expensive than we are accustomed to in the states. Transportation was reliable and simple, though we typically opted for exploring the city on foot. There is a huge emphasis on art culture, and we were fortunate to be there during the Nacht der Museen–an all-night museum festival of sorts. This was awesome because we were able to pay one inexpensive entry that was valid for admission to dozens of museums and exhibitions.
Among my favorites was the Goethe Haus, where German writer/statesman/artist Johann Wolfgang VanGoethe was born and raised, and where he wrote at least part of Faust. You may recognize this bit, quoted in V for Vendetta:
Evey Hammond: Vi Veri Veniversum Vivus Vici.
V: By the power of truth, I, while living, have conquered the universe.
It was a fascinating place to learn more about his influence not only on poetry and literature, but also public policy and lawmaking. Almost as fascinating was the Goethe art museum next door, which houses an impressive collection of curated art and artifacts.
Though it did rain for a full day during our stay, we had glorious weather for the most part and enjoyed afternoon wine and/or coffees on whatever quaint cafe patio was available. We wandered the old town square, window shopping the fancy designer stores; we rested in the public park, amused by the men in smart business suits riding their bicycles home from work, and we walked along the Rhine with gelatos in hand. Our final evening in Frankfurt, we went to the English Theater to see Other Desert Cities, a play we both thoroughly enjoyed.
Das gute leben: The good life.