Frankfurt am Main

During my recent visit to Germany, we took a day-and-a-half-trip to Frankfurt am Main, Germany’s financial capital and fifth largest city. I had very mixed feelings. I had a really nice time there, walking around between shining skyscrapers and the medieval old town, weaving in and out of tourists and men in pinstripes. But there was also an awful lot of poverty around: homeless people sleeping in the streets, many of whom clearly had substance abuse issues, and a small, dreary red light district right at the foot of some of the biggest bank buildings. It was pretty terrible to see such disparity in wealth so close up.

That serious point made, they DO have some nice buildings. Our walk through town can be divided into two sections. First, new:

That last one is from outside the European Central Bank. I know I look a bit like a weird puppet, but believe it or not, this was the best of several shots. Some of you over on other continents might not understand why I felt the need to photograph skyscrapers, but they’re actually quite rare here – some European cities have construction bans that prevent anything being built that will significantly change the historic skyline, and, well, lots of our cities are really old, and so are all the main buildings. So Frankfurt is something of an oddity on our little continent – hence the pictures.

What makes Frankfurt even more of an oddity is that there is also an Altstadt, or old town:

Die Römer, Frankfurt’s beautiful medieval town hall.

This sign commemorates the first ever German parliament. If you study German history, you’ll hear about the “revolutions” of 1848, although I should warn you that there is a lot less action and a lot more middle class liberal men talking than the the word revolution implies. They did want a united, democratic Germany though, and that’s how this parliament came to be set up in Frankfurt.

Here’s me and my mate Schiller. We’re just having a chat about Weimar Classicism.

The traditional drink here is Apfelwein, literally “apple wine”. You can have it sweet or sour. I tried it sweet, and I wasn’t sure how I felt about it – I mean, I like cider, but it has a different taste from any ciders I’ve tried. It’s definitely worth a go if you’re in the area – make sure to report back!

I have more photos, but I feel like I might be crossing the line from “informative and interesting” to “incredibly self-indulgent”, so I will leave you with two final pictures of the main station:

Kassel

And so a new series starts here on Highball Emy’s! I wanted to share my travels and mini adventures with all of you. I must warn you in advance that I won’t be jetting off to Tokyo or Los Angeles every other week, but I hope I can still drum up a few interesting, exciting, and beautiful photos and stories.

We’ll start in Kassel. That’s a little German city. In fact, it’s almost slap bang in the middle of Germany – if you take a map of the European Union’s most populous state and point at the centre, you’re probably not so far off. This is a country close to my heart: I studied German at university, and I lived there for a year-and-a-half, first in Hamburg and then in Ludwigsburg. And Kassel? Well, my boyfriend lives there, so there’s my motivation.

The Kassel Orangerie was built in the 1700s – it’s a fancy building with a fancy garden, where a fancy man used to live. I really loved all the statues on the roof. There were so many I thought it looked like a bit of a party up there. The colour really reminded me of when I used to live in St Petersburg, Russia, where the buildings are like huge cakes in pastel pinks, blues and yellows.

The walk down to the actual building was very pretty too, although as you can see, the weather was not our friend.

Sneak preview of a skirt that might be getting its own post sometime soon…

The city sits on the Fulda, which you can see glinting in the background of one of these photos. I love water: from a brook to the ocean, I can happily stand and stare out over the ripples and waves for a long time. In fact, I’d love to live in a house somewhere around here…

Unfortunately, Kassel was bombed pretty seriously in the Second World War (sorry about that, guys), so most of the buildings are not exactly beautiful – unless you are a huge fan of ’50s and ’60s rush jobs. The market hall and this church are both still intact – and both still lovely.

And, perhaps most importantly, it was easy to find a good White Russian.