Later today some friends are arriving from Germany for our wedding. The last time we saw them was the end of summer in Europe in 2011, where Frankfurt was my last stop before heading home. It was my first visit to the city and only my second visit to Germany (I went to Berlin in 2006). It’s going to be great having them in Sydney for a bit.
People often say how dull Frankfurt is, but I found it really pleasant to wander around on a warm afternoon. There were great boutiques and we were there on a good day because of the organic food market right in the central business district with appetising wurst and cider for sale.
The highlight of my two days in Frankfurt was actually being out in Oberursel, just outside of the city, where our German friends lived. The idea of what a city is over in Europe is different to here (Australia). In Europe there is much more of an emphasis on cities, towns and villages being distinct settlements that are right next to each other – probably because they’re all old, established places – whereas a city like Sydney is a huge suburban sprawl of newness. Even though Sydney is governed by dozens of local councils, I think most people would consider themselves as living in the suburbs of one big city. So although I was basically in Frankfurt for two days, I was actually in the city of Frankfurt for one day and in the town of Oberursel for the second.
I eat and enjoy German food about once a year, and my German meal for 2011 was lunch at a very charming local tavern in Oberursel where we had schnitzel, sauerkraut and all kinds of accoutrements. I remember sitting there in the sun, full from pork and beer, feeling a huge sense of gratitude for being so goddamn lucky that I get to travel and indulge myself so often. I was also on the eve of heading back to a great new job in Sydney at the ABC, and I was looking forward to going home.
I have to confess that Germany is not a country I’ve ever had much interest in visiting, aside from Berlin, but now I’m really looking forward to going back later this year and seeing it again. I had such a great time hanging out with our friends (who are getting married in September) and experiencing a bit of their life. Ultimately, that’s what travel is all about for me.
One thing I saw in Oberursel that I forgot about until I looked through my photos, was a very poignant memorial to the victim of the Nazis. I’ve been to the Jewish Museum Berlin and that was a devastating experience, but seeing a modest memorial in a small town where local people were affected was also very moving. On my trip later this year I hope I’ll get a chance to spend more time in small towns outside of the big cities, and catch more glimpses of day-to-day life and local stories.