The Life in Germany series continues. After their own attitude, the city an expat lives in has the most effect on their experience. What makes a good expat city is rarely the same that makes a good tourist city.
Ginger is an American from Wisconsin. After several jobs and study abroad experiences in Germany she landed in Frankfurt working for the American Chamber of Commerce. So she knows Frankfurt and shares her thoughts on why it is a cool place to be.
When you think of German cities, the first ones to come to mind are usually Berlin and Munich. Frankfurt, despite being the financial and transportation center of Germany with its towering banks and bustling airport, has less of a reputation among tourists and expatriates. I’ve been living in this city of 500,000 for the past nine months, and have enjoyed discovering what makes it come alive…
An international vibe
When I first moved to Frankfurt, I felt less like I was living in Germany and more like I was living in a miniature version of London, where the most common language spoken just happened to be German.
As an expat, it’s very easy to get over the feeling of being “the other” when you’re living among almost 200 other nationalities. Frankfurt’s airport makes it a major hub for travelers from every corner of the world; it’s only a 15-minute train ride from the city center to hop on a plane and go anywhere you want.
With so many cultures, Frankfurt offers a huge variety of cuisines to be found in only the most cosmopolitan cities, and if I’m in the mood to whip something up myself, I know just to head to the ethnic grocery stores near Frankfurt’s Hauptbahnhof (main train station).
The clubs: Frankfurt nightlife
The electronic and house music scene in Frankfurt is huge. Frankfurters (and the daily hundred thousand commuters to the city) have a serious “work hard, play hard” mentality. After hitting up one of the dozens of swanky lounges and bars in the heart of the banking district, it’s great to have the choice of almost a dozen dance clubs within walking distance. Most of them get busy between 1-2am and stay open until 5-6am or later.
I can personally recommend most of the clubs in the heart of the city, plus one in particular which lies on the outskirts: Cocoon Club. Though it’s more expensive both in getting there/back and in the cover charge, it’s worth it if you love house and have never danced in DJ Sven Väth’s own nightclub.
(Editor Comment: A short (light NSFW) video of a DJ in Frankfurt and the night life there.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9SnzDArpgrg
The Main River
If you enjoy living near water and have to move to the middle of a mostly land-locked country like Germany, you’ll find some relief in the flowing waters of the Main. It’s the best place to be on a sunny day, as you can enjoy the paths that follow the river for kilometers whether your preferred mode of transport is on foot, inline skates, or by bike.
In the warmer months, the nicest spot for a Radler with friends or family is at the Main Café, and if you’re hungry you can always grab a snack from the “Döner Boat”, Meral’s Imbiss, and enjoy the sight of Frankfurt’s towering skyline which has earned it the nickname “Mainhattan”.
Frankfurt is located in the German state of Hesse, and just across the Main in the area of Sachsenhausen is where you’ll find remnants of a quaint, German past modified to fit a touristy present. It’s fun to visit any one of the numerous Apfelweinkneipen (apple wine bars) and sample a few Hessian specialties. Even if you’ve already had the chance to eat your way through the international restaurants, it’s refreshing to remind yourself that you are, in fact, still in Germany, and have a Bratwurst with Kartoffelsalat and Handkäse mit Musik for dinner. Just be sure to order a glass of Ebbelwei (apple wine, in the Hessian dialect) to wash it down, and your experience in Frankfurt will be off to a very good start…