Thursday, March 9, 2023

[FRANKFURT] Quick Altstadt Stroll

I’ve already been to Frankfurt twice, I believe, but always just en route going somewhere else so while I count it as a visited city, I still have to do the requisite sightseeing. In searching for intercontinental flights that won’t require sleeping on a plane, I found Singapore Airlines’ SIN-FRA as well as Thai Airways’ BKK-FRA, both leaving late in the morning and landing in Germany in the afternoon. Now that I’ve tried it, this will probably be my default flight of choice whenever I need to go to Europe from Asia. No need for a Business class booking and sleep pattern is not disrupted as long as you sleep well the night before.

Even then, this is still just an extended transit. Lading on a Thursday afternoon means no time for sightseeing left anymore. Working on Friday means I only have 4 PM onwards. I am also meeting some friends based here so the schedule is rather tight. As such, I decided to just visit the Altstadt and walk around for an hour or two before I mark this as an accomplished task. The thing is, we didn’t really last more than an hour outside because the weather and the wind chill were pretty bad.

I guess what surprised me is the fact that Frankfurt’s old town charms are still intact, although some say that many are just reconstructions now because Frankfurt was heavily bombed during the war. It still exceeded my expectations because I thought I’d be seeing nothing else. It turns out I can see that as well as a well-maintained Altstadt that provides a stark contrast when viewed with the city’s modern skyline. The old meets the new, and then they decide to co-exist.

I stayed at Galluswarte and the area felt a bit ghetto, even though I did not encounter anything bad. Was I just lucky? I took a stroll the night I arrived just to get a feel of the place when the weather was still tolerably cool. I loved how the tall building stalked you from the horizon almost everywhere you went. The residential areas also seemed fully-equipped with most creature comforts its residents would need, with close proximity to downtown where all the action must be.

Frankfurt’s trains and trams get you where you have to go quite easily. You just have to figure out the connections yourself. A single ride ticket to or from the airport costs EUR 5.80 (~PHP340) while a Day Card for all transpo is just EUR 6.65 (~PHP390) which is almost just double the price of a regular one-ride ticket. Overall, it’s not as expensive as I imagined it would be. The Altstadt and Frankfurt's main attraction, the Römer, can be reached in around 20 minutes via the U-Bahn or S-Bahn.

I got off at Hauptwache so what welcomed me was the 7-floor mall that has a viewing deck on the 6th floor, giving you a panoramic view of the old buildings as well as a peek of the river behind it. There are benches there where you can just chill and the good thing about it is it’s indoors, so you won’t have to deal with harsh weather conditions yet still get a good view of the cityscape. It also overlooks the busy shopping street down below with weird looking trees and an interesting modern art monument or two.

As for the main attraction, Römerplatz hosts a collection of Altmarkt architecture that Germany shares with neighboring Poland. You know, those colorful houses that make a visual feast with all of them lined up there. At the back is the main cathedral and its spire. Across the plaza is the medieval Römer that has served as the city’s town hall for 600 years now. Serving as the centerpiece of the old town square is a statue of the lady of justice with her scales in hand. Overall, it’s a lovely sight and it’s probably nice to just get lost in its alleys when the weather cooperates.

And that was Frankfurt for me. I believe we will be seeing each other often should this indeed become my de facto landing pad in Europe, except that my departure experience from Frankfurt’s airport one day later was horrible. To say it was a nightmare is an understatement. For a country which prides itself in precision, that airport was nowhere near competent, from check-in all the way to security check. I don’t know what their issue was. Personnel strike perhaps? I hope they get to fix that because it paints a terrible picture to be honest.

[FRANKFURT] Quick Altstadt Stroll

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