Frankfurt came into our lives like a European oasis among the endless green landscape that comprises most of Germany. As we touched down at the end of our nonstop flight, charming Bavarian outfits and pints of beer were the only things mentally on hand to precede our expectations. We quickly learned however, that simply was not the case. (Though, we did find that Germans love their beer almost as much as Portlanders do. Almost.)
Frankfurt presented itself to us as a city that holds its charm from many centuries ago, while showcasing modern elements of metal and architecture that surpass many of the global capitals. Our first day was spent wandering through the streets doing our best to gain a sense of direction in this unfamiliar place. Both of us were intrigued early on to find that much like Portland, Frankfurt is similarly laid out with a river running through the heart of the city. A west side, containing much of the city center, and an east side, offering more of a suburban charm, like Portland. Of course once we stumbled upon the waterfront, we were inclined to stroll up and down to see the sights. At times, the feeling was eerie with how similar Portland and Frankfurt feel to one another. Locals walk, jog, and lounge along the river – drinking and laughing amongst each other as though every day is Friday. Bridges cross back and forth over the water as far as the eye can see, each one having its own character and design that distinguish it from the next. It felt just like home, and we loved that.
Eventually we were able to pull ourselves away from the enchanting and familiar riverside within the city to begin exploring the sights and sounds of Frankfurt. The city is built with its people in mind, offering squares throughout (much like Pioneer square), and each one has an assortment of vendors offering local fare such as schnitzel, krauts, and of course, the famed drink of choice – Apfelwein (a delicious German version of apple cider which is light, bitter, and occasionally cut with orange Fanta to offer a sweeter version for those who prefer). The people of Frankfurt also take their fresh produce very seriously. We couldn’t have been more pleased to find markets throughout town offering everything from fresh meats, cheeses, baked goods, vegetables, and everything in between that one might be craving. One of our favorite stops in the city was Kleinmarkthalle – a two-story market that featured what seemed to be one of everything – literally, everything.
Outside of food and our many full bellies during this trip, Frankfurt had so much more to offer. One of our favorite stops during our stay was to one of three botanical gardens in the city – Palmengarten. This garden exists on over 50 acres and contains a range of plants that almost seems incomprehensible. Greenhouses containing flora from all over the world span the property and – in Portland fashion – troves of roses line the walkways. Palmengarten is a true site to see for any nature lover.
If convenience is your thing, a central rail system connects the city to every nook and cranny of Germany and beyond, and most of the destinations are only a few hours away. We had the opportunity to take a day trip to the nearby town of Heidelberg, tucked away in the hills as though time has stood still for hundreds of years. We would have loved to keep riding the train throughout the countryside, as the adventures throughout Germany seem to be truly endless.
Above all, our favorite part of this trip to Frankfurt was the people. We are proud to hail from a city that is known for its love and kindness – however, the people of Frankfurt may rival our efforts to be kind, welcoming and inclusive. Whether it was being embraced by strangers at a local bar or offered directions from a passerby who could tell we were tourists, the locals welcomed us with open hearts and allowed us to have an unparalleled experience exploring their home. For this we are truly grateful to have travelled to Frankfurt and we absolutely cannot wait to return.