In December I returned to Frankfurt for their Christmas markets, a city that holds unforgettable memories from my motorcycle trip across Europe in 2013. Back then I had no intention of stopping in Germany’s financial metropolis, and knew nothing about it, yet an overnight stay turned into a few as I ended up meeting some of the greatest people and partied with the mighty Iron Maiden (minus Bruce).
So when the chance came to revisit Frankfurt I was excited to see another side of the city. Swapping the heatwave and parties for traditional Christmas markets and warming mulled wine.
The opportunity arised when Jerusha’s parents were driving to Frankfurt to meet her Uncle to collect some family posessions. I won’t elaborate on that situation out of respect for their privacy, but it was suggested that Jerusha, her sister and myself could get a flight over to Frankfurt at the same time and spend some family time at the markets.
So for me, the reasons were threefold, to support the other half, to spend time with her family, and to see more of Frankfurt.
The first thing I will say about Christmas markets in Germany, is that they are just as magical as you expect them to be. A spectrum of lights hanging from stall to stall, sweet and savoury smells melting together in the biting cold air, the sound of carousels, chatter and music combining to really draw you in.
I must admit the only other German Christmas markets I’ve been to are the ones in Manchester. Although the stalls are very much the same by look and produce, the big difference is the price. The prices in Frankfurt were cheaper, and unlike the Manchester German markets, didn’t leave a bad taste in your mouth after spending £7 on what is essentially a bread roll and an average sized sausage (keep it clean).
I’d say pretty much everything was around half the price across the board, especially when you bring in the currency conversion rates. 3 Euro Glühwein, around 4-5 Euro for various Bratwursts and Lebkuchen so cheap we filled our bags with them.
Unfortunately it was very busy which meant having to pay more attention to who you was walking into more than enjoying the stalls. A few times I got frustrated by people walking into me as I struggled along with cruthes and aching joints, which was reminiscent of the Manchester markets. Over crowding was still an issue despite the Frankfurt markets being much bigger and more widespread. Maybe because they are both in city centers; I suspect quieter towns and villages will be much more forgiving, authentic and enjoyable.
During the days we checked into various coffee shops and eateries, nothing really noteworthy, but we did check out Main Tower as it was said to provide the best views of the city. It was a longer walk there than expected from Römer square in the center, but we got there eventually – I didn’t get us lost honestly.
After going through some airport style security we got in an elevator to the top and were treated to some excellent views, despite an overcast sky. There was snow and ice on the viewing deck so we had to be careful, I got the impression that safety had been overlooked and that notion proved to correct after what soon happened.
In the middle of the viewing deck there was a steel structure about 20 feet high that looked to house an antenna of some sort. It was covered in snow at the top with ice hanging from the beams and unfortunately a big chunk of snow the size of a car battery fell and hit Jerusha’s sister square on the head. We laughed it off but we all considered how much worse that could have been if it was the ice that fell. I really believe the viewing platform should have been closed that day.
Apart from that it was a great experience. We got to see 360 views of the city and I managed to trace the central train station and routes I took last time I was there on the bike which brought back some great memories.
It rounded off the trip perfectly.
All in all, if you can get to a real German market I’d highly recommend the experience. Frankfurt is a nice city but if I’m going for Christmas markets I’ll either try somewhere quieter or a city where there is a lot more going on besides the markets, like Berlin or Hamburg.
Jerusha made a cool three minute video of the trip that really encapsulates the feel of our time there. Give it a butchers if you can.