Walk around Frankfurt
After a good nights sleep in our hotel (in the middle of the red light district) we were up and about. It is quite refreshing. As long as we don’t talk, we blend in. No one staring at us, no one trying to sell us something, no big flashing neon sign pointing us out as tourists. It is fantastic. Even when we do speak, there is nothing. Ordering a meal, drink or even just buying a few groceries for lunch, you don’t have to haggle, or even worry that you are going to be ripped off. Receipts. We haven’t seen one of those for a long time. All in all, we are experiencing a bit of culture shock. Everything is organised, efficient and operating smoothly.
We have nothing planned for the day, just to wander around town and look at all the fine architecture, both new and old in the city. This is easily accomplished, and even as we leave the street we have the hotel on, we can appreciate the history of the place. there is something special in European towns. Egypt has ancient monuments from thousands of years ago, Morocco has a fine oral history with fantastic Ksars, Ksors and Medinas, Tanzania… well, we are sure it has something, but Europe? You can see the history of the last two hundred years right in front of you.
One of the first big complexes we came across was the “beating hart of the Euro” Or the ECB (European Central Bank) with a proud statue of the Euro out the front and whole displays on the currency. Is statue the right word for a massive symbol? Sculpture isn’t right, and it isn’t a work of art. It just is.
Making it to the down town area we stop off at tourist information. Here we expected to find out all about Frankfurt, and around. There were a few places we may have been interested in visiting, and wanted a bit more info. Unfortunately this was not to be the case. The guy was helpful in as much as he could be, but he knew nothing about the region. A wealth of knowledge on the city, but as soon as you ask about surrounding towns, he couldn’t help. Still, it was good to have a proper tourist information that was not only about selling you a tour.
A bit of a pub crawl (So German beer is cheap, you rent it by the half litre, and when you have to return it, you may as well stock up on another. This trend is still continuing a few weeks later as we write this!) trying out all the different beers, ciders and wines. On making it back to where we were staying we found the police massed around the street corners. One side street was filled with squad cars from end to end. We had to ask what was happening as some were in full riot gear, and every one was walking in groups of five or more. Apparently there was going to be a protest. A bit further on we found the protesters setting up for their march. The story we were told (by the police) was that a couple of squatters were forcefully evicted the previous day, and now there was a retaliatory protest that had its ranks swelled by the anti-globalisation, anti-ECB, and the occupy Frankfurt Movement. Pretty much all the troublemakers and unemployed people that want something for nothing. (hmm, can we join in as well?) The police were a bit worried it may go wrong, especially as the Organised Anarchist Movement had their uniforms on of Black hoodies done up tight with dark glasses. This is so if it does get messy the police cannot use the cameras to identify individuals.
Grabbing a couple of Kebabs, we pulled up a chair between the police and the protesters to get a good view. Eventually the protesters started marching down the street. Some waving banners, some pushing their prams along, and nearly all of them carrying bottles of beer. Even this was organised and as they went down the street the police moved in unison with them. Flanking the sides and bringing up the rear. We knew we were in a different world when the funniest thing happened. Half the protesters had gone around the street corner when the lights changed from green to red. The other half stopped and waited for the lights to change before moving on to catch up with their comrades! It was hysterical to watch. After they made it through, the police had to stop at the lights as well, and await their turn. We were making jokes that the police would pull them up for jay-walking, as apparently this is still a fine-able offence in Germany. Although when I did it – right in front of the police, all i got was a bit of tsk’ing from them.