Whereas in China, one buys bus fare on a 'per ride' basis, in Germany one has the advantage of buying a 'day card' – a bus ticket valid for the whole day, on any bus, trolley, metro or streetcar. Believe me: I took full advantage of that! For 7.6 Euro, the city was laid out before me. All I had to do was ride. This is what I found in Frankfurt:
Willy Brandt Plaza
Willy Brandt – or, Uncle Willy, as he was colloquially known, was a German statesman and the leader of the Socialist Party from 1964 to 1987. Among other noteworthy achievements, he gained the confidence of students by following a strict formula for social reform. “Let's dare for more democracy!” he famously intoned in 1969.
If you want to find the more historic districts in Germany, look for cobblestoned roads. That (and a trolley) is how I found Old Town Frankfurt:
Religion features prominently in European history, therefore towns were usually built around the churches. The one in the background of that picture is Nikolai Chapel, presumably meant for the lower classes: shop keepers and merchants. For a few years, it was also the center of government.
Church also took a large part in running the government. Thus, right across from the Rathaus – what would be the seat of government, was this more stunning edifice: Saint Paul's
As though these 2 churches were not testament enough to the power of religion in Old Germany, a mere 2 blocks away was The Dom: Frankfurt's cathedral, currently undergoing renovations.
I had just finished touring the inside...
… when an usher invited me to either stay for the service, or leave. On my way out I spied an original collections trunk, propped open for donations. I couldn't help noticing how generous Chinese visitors were! (The sign says: Historical treasury box. We ask for your help in restoring the Kaiser Dom.)
Anyone can follow a tourist map and snap sights. To spot the unusual, I tend to look up. Above a funky restaurant I saw:
unfortunately I could not find any history on this building. Was it built to look like a castle battlement on purpose, or, being on the edge of Old Town: was it a part of the original city wall battlement? Who knows?
No tour of Old Town would be complete without the Rathaus: the seat of government. It is a stunning collection of linked buildings with a center courtyard. Those facades boast murals depicting harvest time, presumably of apples, seeing as the figures are culling something from trees:
Note that you can see the dome of St. Paul's church over the roof of the second picture. This bridge linked the 2 parts of the Rathaus – as the city grew, so must the government. This newer portion stands immediately next to the church, as though to underscore the importance of the church in state matters.
I didn't spend too much time in Frankfurt. I was only waiting there for my friend Olaf to come back from China. Wuhan, specifically – oh, the irony! And then, I would travel south with him to his home in Altbach.
His wife, also a native of Wuhan, asked why I didn't just head down to her house instead of dallying around Frankfurt. Besides wanting to rest up after the flight, I needed to get my German back!
It was so strange: once in Germany, all I could speak was Chinese.