This year I finally realized why people are pestering me to book my Christmas flight as early as August. I had a look at ticket prices in October, expecting to find the prices slightly raised but still quite reasonable. Boy was I wrong. The cheapest direct flights were selling for a modest 350 pounds with return, which is about 150 pounds less than what I could pay to go to Cuba and back.
In the end I decided to book an outgoing flight with a one-hour stopover in Zurich and an outgoing flight with a 5-hour stopover in Frankfurt.
Obviously, all I had the chance to see from Zurich was the airport, which offers ridiculously expensive duty-free chocolates, which are yummy but not 11-euro-yummy.
Frankfurt, on the other hand, is easily accessible via train from the airport. It is after all in Frankfurt as a girl pointed out to me when I asked how to get to the city. From the airport, you can take a train which is part of the S-bahn system, which is insanely complex and seems to go all the way to Heidelberg (a much, much better city). The train will take you to the King’s Cross of Frankfurt, Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof within 12 minutes. Keep in mind that you will need around 5 euros for a single journey; there is also a day ticket for 9 from what I saw. The train carriages are equipped with screens which show what the next stop is, the time you will be arriving at the next stop and how much time is left to the next stop, in case you are mathematically challenged. Like an excel sheet loaded with macros, it was pleasing to my eyes.
At this point I should mention I have been to Frankfurt before when I was a kid; we drove through it with my parents. ‘Do you remember the white watery sausages?’ my sister asked when I got home. I did and they were a big let down. I was looking forward to the pretzels, however- pretzels are great and wonderfully shaped.
When I arrived at the station I went to the information point and explained to a very stylish elderly gentleman that I had 3 hours and was looking for recommendations (because I hadn’t bothered to plan this beforehand). He asked me what I wanted to see, to which I answered ‘uhh..I dunno…buildings?’ Having realised he was dealing with someone not very bright, he circled a location on a map and sent me on my way.
First, I encountered some fancy skyscrapers, which seemed to menacingly guard the entrance to something. After passing the skyscrapers I came across a massive euro sign, which I now realise is there for a reason and not just to scare me: Frankfurt is home to the European Central Bank (as well as a massive financial center). I was in the mouth of the wolf; the big euro sign was casting its shadow on me and frozen rain was trickling down.
I took a picture of the euro sign from behind and went on to find a square with a memorial on it, an old-looking yellowish church, and finally what seemed like the main commercial street-the Oxford street of Frankfurt. Twice I was mistaken for someone who knows where they are going and asked for directions-once in German, language I am familiar with exclusively through Rammstein songs.
That was when the rain picked up and I had to run into a clothes store for shelter. When the rain died down a bit I went walking again and somehow managed to stumble upon the Altstadt- the old city- which is basically a square surrounded by traditional architecture. It sure looks pretty and if you want more of that sort of thing you can take the train to Heidelberg.
From there I could spot an impressive cathedral, which I now know is Saint Bartholomew’s Cathedral. I went closer to have a look but didn’t enter. Then I realised I was near the river bank so I walked to that direction and came across an old bridge, which I had definitely seen mentioned on Tripadvisor.
There is an inscription in greek on the bridge, which is apparently a quote of Homer and means ‘Sailing the black sea with people who speak a foreign tongue’, which I am guessing also stands for ‘there are a lot of immigrants in this place, and they are not very happy to be away from home’. The poster on a pillar opposite the road advertising a greek play called ‘Exile’ supported my hunch. People had locked padlocks on it- for the same reason they throw coins in fountains, I am guessing.
It was time for me to go eat my pretzel and head to the airport, back to my own black sea and my own foreign tongue speaking people that I weirdly kind of missed.
Edit- What’s with the knife and gun shops? seriously?