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Ooaj Travel Guide, tourism, hotel reservation, residence, plane, cheap pension for you holidays in frankfurt
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Frankfurt (German: Frankfurt am Main) is a medium-sized city in Hesse, in Central Germany, known for its high-rises and international airport. Home of the European Central Bank, it is considered to be the financial capital of Europe. It is also birthplace of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
Frankfurt is a city of contrasts. Wealthy bankers, students, and granola drop-outs coexist in a city that has some of the highest, most avant-garde skyscrapers of Europe next to well maintained old buildings. The downtown area, especially Romer square and the museums at the River Main, draw millions of tourists every year. On the other hand, many off the beaten track neighborhoods, such as Bockenheim, Bornheim, Nordend and Sachsenhausen, with their intact beautiful 19th century streets and parks, are mostly neglected by tourism.
Frankfurt am Main is the largest traffic hub in Germany. This is the place where Germany's major Autobahns and railway-connections intersect. About 650,000 people commute to the city each day, not counting the 660,000 people who really live here. With a huge airport—the largest in Europe—it is the gateway to Germany and for many people also the first point of arrival in Europe. These prime traffic connections have made Frankfurt the city with the highest percentage of immigrants in Germany: about 25% of Frankfurt's 660,000 people have no German passport and another 10% are naturalized German citizens. With about 35% immigrants, Frankfurt is the most diverse of German cities.
Frankfurt is home to many museums, theatres (among them the first-class "English Theatre"), and a world-class opera. While Frankfurt is not the size of London or Paris, it will not keep you wanting in terms of cultural activities.
When to visit
The best times for Frankfurt are late spring to early autumn. The summers tend to be sunny and warm around 25 degrees celsius. Be prepared, however, for very hot summer days around 35 degrees as well as for light rain. The winters can be cold (usually not lower than -10° C), but there is hardly any snow inside Frankfurt itself.
If you plan to stay overnight, you may wish to avoid times when trade fairs are held, as this will make finding affordable accommodations a challenging task.
Frankfurt is located near the centre of Germany and as such, it is a transportation hub. It has excellent connectivity between railways, airlines, and highways. Reaching and leaving Frankfurt is easy.
Frankfurt's principal airport (IATA: FRA) is among the busiest in Europe—second in passenger traffic after London Heathrow (LHR) and just ahead of Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG)—and one of the busiest airports in the world, according to 2005 traffic numbers. Serviced by major airlines and all airline alliances, it is very easy to get to Frankfurt from anywhere in the world.
The airport is connected to downtown Frankfurt by taxi, bus (Line 61 to Frankfurt Südbahnhof (Frankfurt Southern Station)), and most easily by subway. To get to the city, take lines S8 or S9 direction Frankfurt or Hanau at the Regionalbahnhof (regional train station) in Terminal 1. Do not leave at Frankfurt Niederrad unless it is actually your destination. Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof, the central station, is in the heart of the city. The ride from the airport to the central station takes 12 minutes. Be sure to purchase a ticket at the vending machines in the train station before boarding the train.
The Frankfurt airport also has connections for inter-city trains. Regional trains to Mainz, Wiesbaden, and Hanau stop at the same place as the subway to Frankfurt. Connections outside the Frankfurt region have a separate train station, the Fernbahnhof ("long-distance train station"). Here, you can board high-speed trains to Munich, Karlsruhe, and other destinations.
Frankfurt has a second, smaller airport called Frankfurt/Hahn (IATA: HHN) used by some of the so-called budget airlines. However, Hahn is not near Frankfurt, but actually about ninety minutes away, so allow for that into your travel plans and budget.
Frankfurt has three major train station, the central station (Hauptbahnhof), the Southern Station (Südbahnhof) and the Airport (Flughafen Fernbahnhof); however, inter-city trains that stop at the airport will usually (not always!) also stop at Hauptbahnhof. Frankfurt has connections to most German cities - and some international destinations - via InterCity and high-speed InterCity Express trains. There is no problem to get a connection to any train destination from Frankfurt.
Be aware that Frankfurt train stations (other than at the airport) are very large, confusing, labyrinth-like places for newcomers. Allow plenty of extra time to locate the boarding area of your train. It's likely you'll have to ask someone for help the first time.
Frankfurt is connected to several autobahns and can be easily reached by car. Try to avoid rush-hour and especially snowy days, as car traffic can easily break down. Parking is definitely a problem in most areas. Especially during big conventions—such the Internationale Automobilausstellung (International Automobile Exhibition) in September, or the Frankfurter Buchmesse (The Frankfurt Book Fair) in mid-October—you should consider using the well designed park-and-ride system.
Frankfurt is serviced by various trans-European buslines like Eurolines. The main terminus is the central station. If you are on a tight budget, this will be a good way to reach Frankfurt.
Don't overestimate the scale of Frankfurt. It is entirely possible to explore the downtown area on foot. Still, if you don't feel like walking a lot, there are many alternatives to get around town.
Frankfurt has plentiful taxi service, to service the many business travellers. The city is not too big, so fares tend to be reasonable. Watch out for taxi drivers that take detours if they notice that you do not know the city. Still, for door-to-door transportation, taxis are a way to go.
By public transportation
Frankfurt is covered by a good public transportation network (run by RMV - Rhein-Main Verkehrsverbund and its local partner 'traffiQ') consisting of trams, subways, and buses. Fares tend to be average—around 5 euros for a ticket for one day for one adult. You don't want to get caught without a ticket, as the conductors will charge you 40 Euro and you can get into considerable trouble, especially if you have no ID card or passport on your person. Subway trains (U-Bahn) and trams are checked quite seldom, the S-Bahn trains quite often. It is not possible to buy tickets in a S-Bahn, tram or subway. The ticket machines can be a little confusing if you do not know how to use them. Basically, you have to look up your destination on the list provided at the machine (it's "50" for Frankfurt itself, or "5090" for the Airport), enter this number with the numeric keypad, then press the button for the type of ticket you want (Einzelfahrt - single trip; Tageskarte - day ticket). "Shortcut" buttons exist for tickets within Frankfurt. Also, every station has some stations listed as "short distance" destinations (Kurzstrecke, code "97"); tickets to those are cheaper.
If you have the opportunity, ask a bystander to explain the vending machines to you the first time you want to buy a ticket.
The RMV (http://www.rmv.de/coremedia/generator/RMV/NeuImRMVGebiet/inhalt=en.htm) site has basic information and timetable information available in English and other languages. There are also on-line rail maps:
The S-Bahn, run by the German train company, is notorious for its delays. If you need to get somewhere on time, allow for some buffer time. In the morning rush-hour, delays of 10-15 minutes are common. If you are catching a plane or have another similar time-critical appointment, allow an extra 30 minutes to be on the safe side.
Other services (subway, tram) are usually more punctual.
You should avoid using your car in the city, or even places like Sachsenhausen (especially on a Saturday) because of parking space. It's very limited, and people tend to park in places they're not supposed to. If you want to enter the city, your best bet is to go into a Parkhaus (parking garage) (which charges a fee, of course) and then either walk, or take public transportation.
If you are in the suburbs you should be aware that many areas are reserved for local residents. You need a special ID card in your car or you risk a fine. Pay attention for signs with wording "Parkausweis Nr.X" (where X is a number).
Using a bike in Frankfurt is no problem after the city council has expanded the bike-lane network of the city in recent years. Look out for the rental bikes of the Deutsche Bahn, marked in the colors red and white and the letters "DB."
These bikes are available from April to December and can be found pretty much anywhere in the city - especially at street corners, which are the major pick-up and drop-off points. You can rent these bikes 24/7 just using your cell-phone and your cr card. German citizens can also sign-up for direct debit from their checking account. For instructions on how to use this service, call the number on the bike or go their website.
Museums in Germany are generally closed on Mondays (there are exceptions); the exact opening hours on other days depend on the museum. If you want to visit a museum on a public holiday, check with them before to be sure they open on that day.
The museums in Frankfurt offer a wide range of exhibits. Many museums are clustered on the south bank of the Main in a district called Museumsufer. To get there, take the subway to Schweizer Platz, then walk towards the Main river. You can see the downtown skyscrapers when you leave the station, that's the direction you have to take. There are enough museums in Museumsufer to keep you occupied for a while, and it is especially suitable if you are staying in Frankfurt only for a short time.
At the Museumsufer
There are many other museums in Frankfurt:
Museum related events
Three special events are associated with Frankfurt's museums.
High Rise Buildings & Skyline
Frankfurt has some of the tallest buildings in Europe (the Commerzbank tower is the highest office building of Europe), and the tallest in Germany. Its skyline is unique for the country as the high-rises (http://nils.jeppe.de/photos/albums.php?whichone=ALBUM_FFM_HIGHRISES) are concentrated in a relatively small downtown area, giving Frankfurt the looks of a metropolis. The skyline is the reason why Frankfurt is sometimes called by the nickname Mainhattan.
Watch the skies
Frankfurt can have quite beautiful sunsets. Caused by the air pollution gathered in the valley it is situated in, they are a good photo opportunity, especially with Frankfurt's skyline. Good vantage points are the bridges, or of course the Maintower high-rise.
There are various fireworks displays throughout the year. Many major events - like the Museumsufer festival are ended with very well done fireworks. Check your local event schedule; if you are in the city these are always worth your time. The exception are the New Year fireworks, which are unorganized and less than spectacular. Good vantage points are the Main bridges, or the river banks.
Finding work in Germany is difficult if you don't speak German. However, Frankfurt is probably a good location to start looking if you want to find a job in this country. Not only is it a center of national and international finance, but there are also many high tech companies in the area. All of these may be more willing to accept people with no or less than adequate German skills.
Last but not least the airport always has need for people who speak English or other languages. Make sure you have the proper permits and papers; working illegally is not only anti-social, it can also get you into a lot of trouble.
The Zeil is the main shopping area of Frankfurt. Various large department stores compete for customers here. You can spend a lot of money here on perfumes, clothes, jewelry, or really anything else you desire. While the Zeil itself is mostly populated by generic shops, nearby streets also house more exclusive - and much more expensive - stores of all kinds. To reach the Zeil, take the subway to Hauptwache or Konstabler Wache, but you can easily walk from the central station.
If you like shopping centres, take the subway U1 direction Ginnheim and get off at the station Nordwestzentrum. It is one of the biggest malls in Germany.
South-east of the Zeil is the Goethestrasse (Goethe Street), which covers the exclusive and designer shops. If you are a foreign visitor, remember to ask for tax free shopping and insure that you receive a ?tax free? envelope for the customs officer. You will get your value added tax money back when you leave the country (16% in 2005). Often the store staff can speak English, other languages may be available.
There are of course restaurants all over Frankfurt. One notable area for dining may be what is locally known as the Fressgass (a "nice" translation would be "eating road"). The correct name of this street is Grosse Bockenheimer Strasse. As the nickname implies, the Fressgass features many Cafes, restaurant, and delicatessen food stores. It's a popular area to dine after the daily shopping. Take the subway to station Hauptwache or Alte Oper.
If you are looking for an in-depth paper-based restaurant guide, a popular publication is Frankfurt Geht Aus (Frankfurt is going out), a magazine style dining guide of the city. It can be bought for 4.80 Euro at many kiosks and book stores, or at the Tourism Information at the central station. It is also available in digital from mpresso Gmbh (http://www.mpresso.com/?subject=essentrinken®ion=frankfurt) for Pocket PC and Palm PDA for 9.80 Euros.
Alt-Sachsenhausen, a part of the suburb Sachsenhausen south of the Main river, is famous for its bars and Kneipen (a German type of Bar, really) serving the "national drink" Ebbelwoi (local dialect for "apple wine", sometimes spelled Ebbelwei). However, these days it's mostly for tourists. And even these days seem to come to an end now: When the US Army had a lot of troops stationed in Frankfurt those were the people who would mainly go to Sachsenhausen. Now as they have much reduced the number of soldiers, many of the bars and restaurants are empty most of the time and some are already closing down.
There are still some good bars, but it's not nearly as "in" as it used to be. You go there because you heard the name, not because you expect superb bars. And be sure you won't mind being surrounded by fellow tourists.
In all honesty, Alt-Sachsenhausen can be safely avoided; you won't miss out on much. There are other bars throughout the city that are more interesting than any found in Alt-Sachsenhausen.
As there are numerous trade fairs in Frankfurt throughout the year, you should do your planning - and hotel bookings - accordingly. During a trade fair, prices at even the cheapest hotels will suddenly skyrocket - and charges of over 300 Euros / night are quite common.
Various hotels offer internet access; most are still a little backwards and provide dialup access only.
There are a number of Internet cafes in Frankfurt of varying prices and quality.
Besides public pay phones and mobile phone services, a large number of stores sell prepaid telephone cards. This is especially useful for international calls. Some offer in house phone services. One easy to reach store that seems reliable is in the Hauptwache subway station.
The three easiest-to-reach full-service postal offices are located at the central station (inside at the long-distance trains; near McDonalds), at the Zeil shopping area, and at the Südbahnhof (Southern Station; take exit Diesterwegplatz and cross the square; the post office is to the left).
Frankfurt has one of Germany's highest crime rates. While this is still very safe compared to some other nations—you won't have to worry about getting shot at, for example—it is still a smart idea to take the usual precautions. If you have a problem or are being harassed, don't be afraid to ask the police for help. German police are not corrupt, and are competent and generally helpful, as long as you have a respectful attitude.
There are two offices for tourism information. The easiest one to get to is inside the Central Station. Look for the signs: it is near the main exit, next to the German Rail service area.
The official contact data is:
Drugs and Beggars
The central station area is known for being a center for homeless and drug users. It has improved much in recent years, but you will still occasionally witness drug users stabbing syringes into their arms and be bothered by beggars. The drug addicts generally won't bother people, and the beggars will ask for Kleingeld (small change), which by their definition is anything between 1-2 Euros.
If you want to go to the airport via subway, take the S8 or S9 direction Wiesbaden. Don't take the S1 - while it has the same general direction and leaves the central station at the same platform, it will go along the wrong side of the river Main. The line S1 does not stop at the airport.