Frankfurt, Germany: Mr. Schneider, I Presume

Steffen was at a wedding that Sunday afternoon, so I left my backpack at the train station and walked into the city. Frankfurt isn’t really known for being a tourist town. It lacks the monuments of Berlin or the culture and history of Munich, but it did seem like a decent place to live. Its the largest center of finance in mainland Europe, but its downtown was fairly modest and easily walked. Of course, I spent most of my time looking for a hat.

I was going to meet Steffen that evening back at the train station, but before I went back I took a trip to the river and then over the bridge to the Sachsenhausen, the trendy neighbourhood of Frankfurt.

Sachsenhausen, just like Kreuzberg in Berlin and Brunswick in Melbourne, is full of gourmet bakeries, cafes and high-end clothing stores. I read in LP that there is an old pub in Sachsenhausen that serves up a Frankfurt delicacy: Apfelwein. As much as I love regional delicious baked goods, I love regional alcohol specialties.

The tavern reminded me of a miniature Oktoberfest beer hall and was packed with families enjoying a Sunday dinner. I awkwardly stood there until I finally managed to catch the barman’s eye. “I’d like a drink … ?,” I said, making a motion of bringing a glass to my mouth, “do you have a list?” I opened my palms like a book. He chuckled, smirked, then exclaimed, “Apfelwein!!”. As he grabbed one of the several pre-poured glasses (everyone, it seems, orders apfelwein), he kept smiling as if he was muttering to himself, “Drinks list? Pssssht, drinks list??!”

I sat on a picnic bench outside and drink my wine. It was OK, kinda like hard apple juice soda.

I stopped halfway across the bridge back to the city center and took some pictures of Frankfurt at sundown.

I went back to an outdoor equipment store I had passed earlier and bought a brown polartec hat. It fit well, was warm and matched the scarf Beth — my flatmate in Brisbane — gave me as a going-away gift. But I almost immediately discovered that it was too warm. I actually had to take it off every now and then to prevent some serious sweating.

I met up with Steffen at the Hauptbahnhoff and from there we drove to a nearby Australian-themed restaurant. For old time’s sake we ordered a couple VBs, ate dinner and caught up. It was great to see him after so long and listen to some of his stories after we split up in Perth.

After dinner we drove to his place, about 50 kilometers outside the city. Major highways don’t have a posted speed limit after business hours and Steffen was taking full advantage of it. He was driving at more than 200 km/hr. Fortunately, there were few other people on the road, and I had recently cut my fingernails, so I didn’t leave marks on the parts of his car door and dashboard onto which my hands had firmly locked.

He lived with his parents, but in a separate, finished apartment underneath the main house. It was really nice; simple, but clean and well-equipped. We shared pictures from our travels, talked about what Jake, Nadja and Sophie were up to, and our plans for the future. He was heading off on a diving trip to Cairo the next day, so we only had one night to catch up.

The next day we went into the city and I bought a train ticket to Zurich. Steffen has always been a bit of a gourmand, and he really wanted me to try a German currywurst. Frankfurtians love them, it seems, even though you can get one throughout Germany. Currywurst is a traditional German sausage served with a tomato sauce and buried in curry powder. We parked in the city and walked to one of the most best places in the city to get currywurst. On Steffen’s suggestion we both ordered the Monster Combo, which came with 2 sausages, fries, bread and a drink. It was so much friggin’ food … but delicious! To work off the food we took a long walk around the city, stopping at a shisha bar that was located at the top floor of a tall shopping complex. It was a great view of the city, but I had forgotten my camera.

Steffen drove me back to the train station and we said our goodbyes. I had forgotten how much fun it was hanging out with him, and I really will miss his company.

By the time I got to Zurich it was dark. Yet again, I only had the simply LP map to guide me. Zurich is not a big city, and the walk from the train station to the hostel looked simple enough. Still, it was only dumb luck (though by now I started to think I was just developing good instincts) that I found the hostel. It was hidden among the narrow streets and alleys of Zurich’s old town.

After checking in I walked to the nearby supermarket and bought some supplies. On the way back I took some pictures of the city at night, then called it early.

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