If the Texas summer is starting to get a little stuffy, say Auf Wiedersehen to Austin and pop over to Frankfurt for a few days on the new seasonal Austin to Frankfurt flight. Starting June 27, Condor began flying twice a week to Frankfurt, Germany’s financial hub. What was the raison d’être for Condor choosing Austin as their latest destination? According to Wilken Bellmann, Head of Network Development Long-Haul, Austin was selected because of its, “rich cultural life and music scene in particular, but also the opportunities for outdoor activities and its convenient location for trips throughout Texas and the American South.”
You can leave Austin Bergstrom in the evening and by lunchtime local time (10 hours later) be in Frankfurt sipping on a Hefeweizen. The Boeing 767 has a Business, Premium Economy and Economy class, friendly service, plenty of meals and snacks and decent legroom. From now untill September 1, when the flights end for the season, enjoy Frankfurt with the Texas Lifestyle guide to this bustling metropolis. (Don’t worry, the flight will be back next year starting in May and continuing through October, Condor is already extending the season!)
Frankfurt is relatively small, with a population of around 730,000, and a lot of what you will want to see is easily reached by foot, by U-Bahn (subway), or by bike if you want to experience Frankfurt like a local.
25 Hours by Levi’s is a great smaller hotel to stay in located in the trendy, former red light district called the Bahnhofsviertel near the main train station. Yes, 25hours by Levi’s does have a denim jean theme and all 76 rooms have a pair of vintage Levi’s in them, but besides the hipsters the hotel attracts, you’ll find creatives, businessmen and colorful locals hanging out in the restaurant area or at the street front picnic tables. The hotel is quirky, funky and friendly but comfortable and rooms start at 120 euros a night ($133). A great little breakfast buffet is offered in the morning which you can enjoy in the courtyard.
If something a little more grandiose and traditional is in order, try the centrally located Frankfurter Hof, an opulent grand hotel that is elegant and old school with a Michelin Star restaurant, spa and original façade dating from 1876.
A good starting point for a bird’s eye view of the city on the Main River (which locals playfully call “Mainhattan,” playing off the Main river that Frankfurt sits on) is the Main Tower, a 56-storey skyscraper with an observation deck. Looking over the city you realize how much of the architecture is dated post World War II when Frankfurt was severely bombed. A few key landmarks have been restored to look as they once were, but mostly Frankfurt is a modern city.
For a glimpse of what Frankfurt looked like pre-war, go to the reconstructed Altstadt (Old Town) with the lively and charming Römerberg Plaza. This was the perfect spot for the first of many Hefeweizen,or Weissbiers, a refreshing German wheat beer, as well as an intro to local German cuisine at the Schwarzer Stern, with the first taste of Grüne Soße, the famous Frankfurt creamy green sauce made of at least seven spices served over boiled eggs and new potatoes followed by a traditional pork Schnitzel and Spätzle.
Day one for me started with a visit to the university district called Bockenheim in the west part of the city. The area boasts many restaurants, cafes, and shops as well as the impressive PalmenGarten or Botanical Gardens. Eat lunch on the sunny terrace of the Caféhaus Siesmayer where locals take long lunches eating wurst with potato salad and an assortment of coffees and ice cream dishes. After lunch, it’s a nice leisurely walk to the Altes Oper, the former opera house and now concert hall originally built in 1880 only to be rebuilt in the 1970s. It feels like the heart and soul of the city with bustling food and drink stalls, live music, a nearby park and major shopping area. At night stop by to people watch and have a nightcap at one of the nearby cafes like the Operncafé, or drink beer and the local Ebbelwei or cider, with the after work smartly dressed banking crowd.
A perfect way to end the day is drinking with the locals at some of the terrace bars or barge bars on the Main in the Sachsenhausen section of town. Just walk across the pedestrian bridge or Eiserne Steg from the Altstadt area and you can’t miss the cheerful and beckoning beer terraces. Back in the Bahnhofsviertel neighborhood dinner was at the ultra-modern and stylish Stanley Diamond, an upmarket reinvention of traditional German fare.
Day two was spent exploring the Bauhaus style buildings of the The Goethe University, walking the Schaumainkai along the river where the majority of museums are located, (a must see museum is the world class Städel Art Museum.) Regrettably there wasn’t enough time for the Goethe-Haus and Museum, the home of the beloved writer and statesman Johann Wolfgang Goethe, nor was there time to explore the residential and shopping area of Bornheim and Berger Strasse.
But, the evening did end at the delightful Allgaiers restaurant on a charming tree covered terrace in the tony Westend-Süd enjoying the last bites of German food (with a touch of French influence) and of course a final Hefeweizen farewell.