I suppose this is a little bit delayed seeing as I’ve been back in Dublin for the last two weeks, but better late then never right! I had sort of intended this to be an ode to all things Frankfurt, but I decided to expand it to the greater Hessen region as I can honestly say that Frankfurt is not one of my favourite cities in Germany. There is a lot to see in the area though, so if you can stomach the prices of various train tickets or rent a car, it is a pretty great base to explore central Germany.
(this image is a slight cheat! you might remember the way that I was disappointed that although I did get to see the EU metsat HQ (in the image above in Darmstadt, I missed out on the ESA space operations centre. Well a week later I snapped up a last minute ticket! It was interesting, but not unmissable!)
In Frankfurt itself, things worth seeing are the Hauptwache square, then taking a side street past older buildings to the indoor market to drown yourself in other cultures, continue on to the square with its picturesque buildings and down to the river where you get a nice view of the skyline and can cycle up and down its banks for a few km. It is a great place for some shopping though, and with the X mall you can ride up the escalator to the top where glass panels and a large smoking balcony prove to be the perfect spot for a little people watching. Traditional cakes from an old bakery are best bought from the little place down by the river. And the christmas market, while not as extensive as other cities, still provides you with the whole burnt almonds, spicy gluhwein, roasting meats, grilled cheese and sweet treats experience. I had enough memorable but uncomfortable experiences in the train station and the surrounding area, so its best to head straight into the city.
As for the rest of my time (when I wasn’t busy studying or writing about global fisheries institutions and climate change) I pretty much cycled and ate my way around the countryside!
If you’re looking to visit a picturesque German town, Limburg, Heidelberg and Wiesbaden and Kassel (spectacular in autumn) are within 2 hours journey. If you’re looking for something on the smaller side its best to toddle along the Main or the Lahn and view the tinier villages such as Braunfels or Marburg. It is the perfect place for a biking holiday, with plenty of routes leading almost everywhere and all well marked of course! I think I’ll miss those lazy weekends cycling around the countryside the most!
Further afield, I could talk for days about the spoils of Hamburg, Berlin and closer to home, Munich, but its probably just easier if I link you to my posts from my visits there! So without further ado, make sure you take in a walk in the Alps, metropolitan Munich (and a swim in the eisbach), the towers of Neuschwanstein, the beer at Oktoberfest, Hamburgs harbour, Hamburgs lakeside houses, the middle of paradise at Konigssee in Bavaria, the christmas market in Nuremberg, the picturesque churches in Bamberg, Berlins museum island, whats left of the Berlin wall, the gardens in Potsdam and the Dom in Cologne.
Besides missing my trusty old bike and the delicious cakes – its the people I met along the way who made the year so special! To anyone else going on a semester abroad – take every opportunity that comes your way and make the most out of it! Fling yourself headfirst into the unknown & you won’t be able to regret one minute!