Wie Gehts? A short sojourn in Germany…

Happy Chappies
Happy Chappies

A trip to Germany is always a treat, especially with the Lovely One, who makes travelling a real joy. I like discovering a new place with a local, and this trip was no exception.

Some highlights…

Central Frankfurt 

This trip was mainly to see friends and family, but I crammed in some exploration of some fancy new places. First off is the stunning and much-famed Städel, which is simply one of the most beautiful art museums I’ve ever seen. Beautifully laid out, with old masters upstairs and a cavernous, light-filled modern art collection beneath, you can get helplessly lost for hours.

Der Städel - a 200-year old art institution of almost ravishing beauty
Der Städel – a 200-year old art institution of almost ravishing beauty
If loving Yves Klein Blue is wrong then I DON'T WANT TO BE RIGHT
If loving Yves Klein Blue is wrong then I DON’T WANT TO BE RIGHT
The Dom on a day of sunshine and showers...
The Dom on a day of sunshine and showers…
Die Alte Oper. Oddly enough, no longer home of Frankfurter Opera, but still a most beautiful music venue. My ambition is to see a production there next time we go.
Die Alte Oper. Oddly enough, no longer home of Frankfurter Opera, but still a most beautiful music venue. My ambition is to see a production there next time we go.

Time was against us, so we stopped at the museum’s gorgeous Holbein Restaurant for a pit stop. A covered courtyard in the spirit of the British Museum courtyard, this is simply one of the most beautiful restaurants I’ve ever been to. I didn’t sample the food, but grabbed an exemplary Aperol Spritz and chatted with the charming bar staff while soaking up the atmosphere.

Restaurant Hans Holbein at the Städel. One of the most stunning uses of space for dining I've seen. And they do a bloody marvellous Aperol Spritz.
Restaurant Hans Holbein at the Städel. One of the most stunning uses of space for dining I’ve seen. And they do a bloody marvellous Aperol Spritz.

We also squeezed in some time wandering in the tranquil and utterly charming Palmengarten, a gorgeous 22-hectare site near the Goethe-University. A gorgeous landscaped site which calmed the soul and soothed the mind…

A vastly-zoomed picture of a GOD DAMN HUMMINGBIRD. Genuinely have never seen one in Europe before, and promptly LOST MY MIND
A vastly-zoomed picture of a GOD DAMN HUMMINGBIRD. Genuinely have never seen one in Europe before, and promptly LOST MY MIND
Der Palmengarten, 22 hectares of tranquility dating from 1871
Der Palmengarten, 22 hectares of tranquility dating from 1871

Like castles? I know a place… 

We were lucky to be treated to a day trip to see one of the wonders of Europe. I’d heard of the Rhine, having a passing interest in history (no one can read much about Tudor history without hearing ad nauseam about “Rhenish Wine” or “Rhinish Gold”), but I wasn’t prepared for the sheer wonder of it all. Turns out that the way to make a packet back in the day was to charge tolls for people to cart stuff up and down the Rhine. Once one had accumulated an impressive amount of funds, one built a castle to celebrate. And the Rhine valley is scattered with a veritable EMBARRASSMENT of castles, from fairytale piles to gothic masterpieces to towers and oh my goodness.

CASTLE!
CASTLE!
CASTLE! This apparently is the "Mousehole", a small island prison on the Rhine for naughty boatmen who didn't pay their tolls...
CASTLE! This apparently is the “Mousehole”, a small island prison on the Rhine for naughty boatmen who didn’t pay their tolls…

We took in the glory of the valley from a restaurant in the hills, where a famous (read: slightly boring) German tv drama called Heimat (loosely translates as homeland or a longing for home) was filmed. The food at the Günderodefilmhaus is okay, the wine is better, but it’s the views you come for.

View of the Rhine from the Günderodehaus, the filming location for the famous TV film "Heimat 3"
View of the Rhine from the Günderodehaus, the filming location for the famous TV film “Heimat 3”
A field of sunflowers in Frankfurt Am Main city limits, just chillin'
A field of sunflowers in Frankfurt Am Main city limits, just chillin’

German Hipsters and where to find them 

A quick note before rounding off, with a note on Frankfurt’s burgeoning nightlife scene. Most of Frankfurt is pretty sedate, but the old red-light area around the main Bahnhof (station) is becoming a Hipster magnet, with bars like Plank leading the way and drawing the crowds. We also managed to find a great Szechwan restaurant called Pak Choi with the help of an old schoolfriend, which was excellent value. Ten of us fell on a feast of wonderfully executed spicy squid, noodles with pork belly and home-style aubergines for just over 20 EUR per head, inclusive of some seriously good beer. Top tip for a night out!

Streusel cake - GET IN MY FACE
Streusel cake – GET IN MY FACE
WE'RE SERIOUS! IT'S JUST BEEF! WE'VE MANAGED 28 ISSUES!
WE’RE SERIOUS! IT’S JUST BEEF! WE’VE MANAGED 28 ISSUES!
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