Well they were wrong.
Now, it might be a number of other adjectives but boring isn’t at the top of the list as you’re soon going to see. It would seem that Frankfurt gets labelled boring partly because it is a financial hub (also the fifth largest city) but partly because there’s not plenty of things for tourists to see and do. Okay, that’s an understatement: it’s the largest financial centre in Europe and there’s hardly anything for tourists to do! Perhaps that’s to be expected from a city that has a large illuminated Euro-zone logo as of the its visual delights! Enough said.
So sure, I can see why this would not be top of a backpackers ‘must-visit’ and indeed the majority of backpackers I’ve conversed with in my hostel appear to be hear for either University or in connection to work. The remaining few are like me, just passing through. Still in my two days here I was able to see a number of sides to this city; some of which were extremely surprising to me but that’s naivety for you and we’ll come to that shortly.
In need of some contrasting scenery
By now I have honestly been craving feeling humbly insignificant amongst the towering might of a concrete jungle. I’ve seen so much natural beauty and small wonders over these months that even Frankfurt’s Skyscrapers had a strange allure that had me gazing upwards for long periods of time…
Not contrasting enough? Try this. . .
Yes I saw plenty of super-expensive sports cars but what was most shocking was on the other side of life’s wheel of fortune as I really didn’t expect to see as much poverty and despair as I did. Although my hostel is actually quite a decent one, I was surprised to be paying 19 euros a night. This sounded pretty cheap considering mid 20s has been the average in central Europe. And behold, I now know why it is ‘cheap’; the area is not what an estate agent would label as ‘highly desirable’ or ‘sought-after’. You see folks this is a red light district and I am bang in the centre of it!
Whilst this might conjure up a smirk or large smile amongst some of the male readers, I soon discovered that this didn’t resemble my brief and ancient memories of a somewhat regulated and cleaner, Amsterdam. Thankfully there isn’t too much hassle from the people here, just a weak ‘sales pitch’ from the predictably older, rough women in charge of these prostitute houses, sex shops or whatever else they’re called that gently hassle you to come in.
There’s more though. This area doesn’t just entice and entrap sex-starved old men but it’s sadly a breeding ground for some of society’s most deprived and least fortunate. My hostel was literally on the opposite street but thankfully a mere 30 meters left of where ‘they’ congregate from as early as 8am and throughout the remainder of the day and night. This area was really rough but not from the sex-starved desperadoes but instead the drug addicts. I can categorically tell you I have never seen such ill, rough-looking and tragically despairing people in all my life. No, really – it (they) were that bad. Paradoxically, I never once felt threatened but if would naturally take me a couple of days to feel as comfortable as one could in such a neighbourhood. I still can’t quite believe this has occurred in Germany of all places! A quick look online shows this has been the case for sometime and goes to prove that the media tell us so little and mislead us so often. I don’t know about you but thanks to the media I’ve always considered Germany one of the premier European countries for just getting things right and having much less bad things occur on their great land. I’m actually thankful of my Frankfurt experience because it goes to show the grass really isn’t always greener. Then consider the immigration problem I covered in some depth in my last post. All really is not perfect in Germany which of course won’t be a surprise to the locals but perhaps will come as a little surprise to some of the rest of us?
Lukas, I’ve heard Cologne has a similar but smaller area like this too; is this correct?
It was also really interesting to hear that Frankfurt has drug consumption rooms (supervised injection sites)! There were two within a few hundred meters of my hostel which again goes some way to explaining why there were so many rogues around the streets for a block or two. These sites provide clean needles for the addicts to use. Don’t know about you but I can see both sides to this approach and I find myself respecting Germany for trying out (and keeping) this approach. However there’s always more that can be done, right…
My most unforgettable memory was when I saw one of them completely normally and casually injecting themselves sat on the street curb whilst I was walking by (on the other side of the road of course). I’d have done anything to capture this shot for you but I was walking to fast at that point and still in a bit of shock if I’m honest.
Managed to capture these though not too long after:
I’m relieved to say that such scenes dramatically change after a couple of blocks and only 15 minutes later you will be in the main shopping area and moments from that, you can be over-looking The River Rhine.
And now some shots from walking across the bridge:
Not so boring, huh
At night I would explore the riverside area that I had walked to yesterday in the day and as previously shown however the difference at night was vast as it was really, really buzzing down here and so I’m glad I came. I was surprised though that it continued to still be pumping out this buzzing atmosphere way past 11pm! Then consider it was a Sunday night…?
I ate some Bratwurst (German sausage) and drank some German beer whilst soaking up the evening’s atmosphere and bright lights so it would seem a good, clean night in Frankfurt is possible after all…
My departure out of Frankfurt was at midday so I had time on my final morning to visit the #1 rated tourist attraction which was the highest vantage point over this epic metropolis up high upon Frankfurt’s ‘Main Tower’. To give you a idea of how much of a business orientated city this is, I’m pretty sure that in terms of the tallest ranked buildings, Frankfurt houses 9 of the top 10 throughout all of Germany! The Main Tower is the 4th tallest but the highest for public-viewing. At a reasonable cost of 6.50 euros it offered epic 360 degree views of the city and for a far as the eye could see.