Frohe Weihnachten! A visit to the real Frankfurt Christmas Market
Just back from 3 days in Frankfurt for some Christmas shopping and a bit of festive atmosphere around the Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas Market). Taking a cheap option for the short break was possibly false economy in some ways as the flight was from Stansted to Frankfurt-Hahn. That meant for us a 3 hour drive in the early hours of Monday morning to get to Stansted. Then there’s the problem with Frankfurt-Hahn . . .
Despite having ‘Frankfurt’ in its name, the airport is actually around 75 miles to the west of Frankfurt.There is a regular coach service between the airport and Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof, the central rail station in the city, for €15, but the journey is around 1h45, longer than the flight! Despite that, it was a good short break and at this time of year Frankfurt had a good atmosphere.
As Birmingham is host to a Frankfurt Christmas market we saw pretty much what we do each year back home, a few more stalls/huts but essentially the same things on sale. But this was the real Frankfurt Christmas market and we enjoyed the bratwurst, gluwein and Bethmannchen, a Frankfurt Christmas speciality made from marzipan. It was also good to just soak up the culture and enjoy being somewhere different.
I must say that I was impressed with the trams which proved to be very useful in getting us to and from the centre of town from our hotel which was near Hauptbahnhof. Each tram stop has a machine to purchase tickets from, a fare of €1.60 covers short journeys up to around 3 stops and so covers much of the central city area, but a day ticket (tageskarte) for €9.90 allows up to 5 people to travel all day for any number of journeys so this may be a better option if you’re using the trams a bit. The system runs on trust and frequent ticket inspectors who take no excuses for not having a valid ticket and will impose an on the spot €40 fine. There is also an underground system (U-Bahn) and a local rail system (S-Bahn) which we didn’t have any need to use on our short stay.
As well as the Christmas Market we also had a wander along the main shopping street, Zeil, and along Goethe Straße, home to high end designer brands such as Tiffany, Prada, Moncler, Cartier and the like. Just past Hauptwache (the old central guard house, now a cafe) at the western end of the Zeil is Große Bockenheimer Straße, known locally as Fressgass (literally, ‘eating street’). Aside from a few shops the street contains lots of cafés and restaurants and was a good place for lunch for us on our last day. At the end of the Fressgass is the beautiful Alte Oper, the old opera house.
I would definitely recommend visiting Frankfurt, especially at Christmas time. Just got to find some time now to sort out more pictures!