Turning Business Trips into Pleasure in Frankfurt
I’ve been attending the Frankfurt Book Fair in Frankfurt, Germany for the past three years on behalf of my employer. Frankfurt is a major hub for world travel and is the financial center of Europe. The downtown is dominated by skyscrapers, many affiliated with banks. It was subject to heavy bombing at the end of WWII, so it lost many of its historic buildings, but it has retained a few historic neighborhoods, and cathedrals on both sides of the river (the Main River). The river is lovely with many bridges. It is not as glorious as the Seine in Paris, but is pretty with lots of activity along both banks, with people walking, jogging, and hanging out with friends.
The first year I went to Frankfurt I stayed in a hotel recommended by a reservation broker. The room was fine and the complimentary breakfast was great, but the location was horrible! I could get to and from the fair using the local commuter train and my free pass, but there was nothing worth exploring within walking distance. No restaurants or shops, and I was there on my own. It was quite bleak. I did have one dinner out with a colleague at a restaurant called Margarete that was lovely.
I recently completed my third trip to Frankfurt and was finally able to enjoy it as a tourist.
Towards the end of that trip my husband stayed with me (we had gone to London and Paris together and he went to visit friends while I worked the fair). I was so excited to have someone to explore with, and we went out for dinner to Adolf Wagner, for a traditional German meal. It was great to be in a neighborhood with restaurants and shops, and the German pub was fun. I enjoyed ApfelWein (apple wine) for the first time, and we sat at a lively picnic table with other diners. On our last day we had a few hours before our flight so we visited the Goethe House.The house where the writer Goethe (1749-1832) grew up in was destroyed by the bombing of WWII, but has been restored to its original condition.
For my second visit I did some research and found a hotel on my own. I wanted somewhere with a good fitness center and a hot tub or steam room, and it had to be in a nice neighborhood with restaurants. Fleming’s Main Riverside met these requirements. Fleming’s has a great restaurant with an extensive buffet breakfast. Meals here are a gourmet experience and the staff are very friendly. The rooms are small and the glass shower in the middle of the room is ‘different’, but the room is comfortable. The fitness center has a steam room and sauna, lots of fresh towels, and a lounge area with daybeds.
On this trip I arrived not feeling great, having come from another exhausting work trip in Chicago, so I did not explore the neighborhood much. When out on some errands I found a neighborhood that was a bit run-down and low on charm, but it was still better than where I had stayed previously.
I recently completed my third trip to Frankfurt and was finally able to enjoy it as a tourist rather than just as a business traveler. I stayed in the same hotel and wasn’t looking forward to anything special based on my experience last year. However, I was delighted to find that the hotel is not far from a charming area where the Frankfurt Cathedral and old Romerberg market square are located. In the other direction, a neighborhood called Sachsenhausen is a short walk away. It is safe to walk at night with mostly well-lit streets and other people milling about.
Here are some of the places and experiences I most enjoyed on this trip:
- Climbing to the top of the Frankfurt Cathedral tower (66 meters) and enjoying the great views of the city and surrounding area.
- Possibly the best sushi I ever had, at Mikuni.
- Zum Gemalton Haus, where I tried black pudding and liver sausage (and swear I could smell my German grandpa).
- Shopping for candy at Naschmarkt am Dom.
- An impressive and entertaining Frank Hoppman exhibit at the Caricature Museum.
- Sampling delicious passionfruit, pear and cinnamon macarons from Pott au chocolat. They were a delight for the eyes as well as the tongue.