On my way to Croatia, I had a 9-hour layover in Frankfurt, Germany. That was more than enough time to venture out and explore the city, but I had no idea what I could possibly see because Frankfurt had never been on my radar. When I searched through my travel community forums, most people stated there wasn’t much to do in the city, but I just knew there was something worth seeing there. Without a concrete plan, I ventured out to explore Germany’s financial capital with a friend.
We found a luggage storage area for our carryons in Terminal 1, and took the S8 commuter train to the main train station in Frankfurt. It was a simple process that took less than 15 minutes, and no one even checked our train tickets. From our starting point, we strolled leisurely down Kaiserstraße, and checked out what restaurants and shops were available. We also caught a glimpse of some parts of Frankfurt’s Red Light District.
Our intentions were to kill some time before participating in the Alternative Walking Tour of Frankfurt, then eat a nice dinner before taking the train back to the airport. The tour began at 2pm, but we both got hungry around 1pm and started searching for a place to get a good meal.
We agreed to lunch at a traditional Eritrean restaurant within walking distance called African Queen. I never ate Eritrean food before, so I was eager to experience something new. The menu was in German, but the beautiful owner took her time and described what they had to offer with joy. I ordered lamb with spinach along with a mango beer. The food came with plenty of injera, and I adjusted quickly to using that in place of utensils. The mango beer was presented in a traditional bowl instead of a beer mug, and it was cold and tasted delightful. I don’t even like the taste of beer, but I enjoyed this one.
Our lunch lasted much longer than anticipated so we missed the Alternative Walking Tour. Instead, we strolled the city on our own. In hindsight, I’m glad I missed the walking tour because my Converse were pinching my toes and I needed to be able to walk at my own slow pace without feeling like I was slowing down a group.
It was a melancholy day in Frankfurt, with a a few dark clouds and the potential for rain. Luckily it never rained, and we were able to discover so many wonderful parts of the city like a stunning row of trees along a walking path by the Main River.
My friend and I checked out the views from a couple of pedestrian bridges – Holbeinsteg Bridge and Eiserner Bridge. The Eiserner Bridge is also known as the Love Lock Bridge, so there were numerous tourists gathered in that location to participate in the trend of placing a padlock around the iron railings and keeping the key. Further along the river, we noted a few river cruise offerings, but the timing wasn’t right for us to participate. Instead, we continued along the Main river and found ourselves at Römerberg.
Much of Römerberg, or the Main Square, was restored to look similar to the way it did prior to being destroyed in WWII. I was awestruck by the architecture, and I have never seen anything similar to it. Römerberg was ripe for people watching, so my friend and I bought some coffee and desert at Einstein Coffee, and sat at an outside table to see who was doing what.
In another section of the city, we stumbled upon an outdoor gathering with mainly black people. “Girl, we found our people!” I exclaimed with a laugh when I saw the group. It was some sort of church event, so we kept walking rather than engaging.
As the gloomy day dragged on, we took the train back to the airport. Part of me was feeling unfulfilled because I went to Germany without eating a German meal or drinking a German beer. I had zero interest in German food, but I just couldn’t leave the country without eating something worthwhile. So I picked up a bratwurst in the airport before leaving for my flight to Croatia. That left me satisfied because I at least ate something traditional for my memories. Who knew when I would return to the country?
Frankfurt was a very walkable city, and easy to navigate. The long layover was a nice preview, and I am content with never visiting the city again. I would have preferred the experience to be in Berlin, but I didn’t have control over the options. Still, I loved the idea of getting a small taste of a city that I may have not otherwise selected for a visit.