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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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!