Here is the text to my journal entry for my time in Frankfurt am Main. The audio is also included if you like to read along and listen.
On February 1st I came to Frankfurt from Toronto, and for the first few days it felt as cold here as where I left. The first things I saw when I came out of the subway station in downtown Frankfurt were a Starbucks and some people wearing Canada Goose Jackets. Just like home!
But not at all, really. Frankfurt is wonderful, and definitely not like Canada in a lot of ways. Almost everything except the skyscrapers looks older than my country, even though many of the buildings are only made too look old since they were rebuilt after the war. I didn’t see any transport trucks, and only saw one pickup truck in my entire time here. There are more people with grey hair on bicycles than I have ever seen. The majority of vehicles are very small, very quiet, and can fit into unimaginably tiny parking spaces. Most streets are narrow, and there are many plazas and streets where cars simply cannot go. All of these things create a soundscape that, to my ears, is much quieter and more civilized than most North American towns.
This lower ambient sound level allows the main soundmark of Frankfurt, and perhaps many other European towns, to ring loud and clear: the church bells. Some ring every hour, some sound the quarter hour, some chime once, others clamour for 5 minutes. On Saturday, weddings made the bells toll almost without end. On Sunday, I sat beside the Römer, or city hall, and listened for over 20 minutes as the bells rang at 12:00. It sounded like a concert. I could count at least 10 bell towers in the downtown, and one seems to set the other off, like birds singing. These were my favorite sounds in Frankfurt.
Besides listening to the bells, I did some proper sight seeing. I saw the Palmengarten, or botanical garden and sat in the tropical area for several hours to get warm. I visited markets, parks, and many of the many museums. I went to the Jazzkeller, the first jazz club that opened in Germany after the war and saw some great players during a jam night. Another night had me at the Oper Frankfurt to see Berlioz’s Fausts Verdammnis.
Frankfurt is clean, safe, and easy to walk around. There are amazing bakeries and sausages, and the absence of North American food chains was lovely. It is an expensive city and the financial strength of the area is tangible. The only sign that Frankfurt is also an air-transport hub of Europe is only visually obvious by the plane trails in the sky; the airport is placed in such a way as to not be audible at all! This is another welcome relief to my ears.
I leave soon for my next destination, which is the Maldives, a group of islands close to India. So I will talk to you in 5,000 miles, and 30 more degrees!