(Editor’s note: The quirky side of Frankfurt is next up in our The Things We Love series celebrating all our favorite aspects of expat life. Because maybe Dispatches focuses a little too much on tech and visas. Tell us about the things you love about the expat lifestyle in Europe at: [email protected])
Having lived in this wonderful city now since November 2018, I feel I am really starting to get the feel of Frankfurt. It is a city of contrasts in many respects.
The financial capital of Germany with soaring office towers and the home of the European Central Bank. Yet, home also to small friendly cafes, local fresh food markets, street fairs and dog parks where everyone greets and knows each other.
The longer I live here, the more I notice and appreciate some of the smaller, quirkier details of the city which I thought I would share here.
COMMUNITY BOOK STANDS
These delightful steel frame stands are dotted around Frankfurt. They are
about 2-metres high and typically have four shelves of books. Often covered in graffiti or rust, they seem to draw people towards them like a beacon of knowledge.
They always appear to be full of books so clearly, being replenished is no difficulty.
Sometimes, I even see a small crowd around them, deep in conversation. I cannot help thinking in this age of instant media and “fake news” how wonderful it is to see these community book stands being used and appreciated.
There is a small park near our home, where a rusty old book stand hovers above a small garden. As I walk our small dog in the evening, I will often see a neighbour reading a book in the late, reddish glow of the day.
There is much pleasure to be derived from seeing a neighbour engrossed in a tattered old book and knowing the book soon will be soon enjoyed by another grateful reader who visits the stand.
THOSE CRAZY FOUNTAINS
What Frankfurt lacks in beaches and well, beaches, it tries valiantly to make up for with giant plumes of water spraying into the sky. Most small parks seem to have a pond with a rather brownish water. In this pond will often also be a water sprout aching vertically, until it runs out of momentum and crashes to earth to be reborn again.
I think, ‘This is so Frankfurt.” Frankfurt has ambitions far beyond its borders – it is a global city now, representing the drive and determination of a Germany that is the dominant economic country in Europe.
In a way too, so do these fountains. They strive for dominance over their little ponds, proudly declaring, “Look at me, I am more than just a sprout of water.”
They make me smile.
WELL-ATTIRED BIKE RIDERS
In my former home city, Sydney, bike riding gear seemed to consist of a dizzying array of tightly fitted lycra. Not here in Frankfurt – there is hardly a spandex fabric to be seen.
Many bike riders dress as though going for a jaunt to a wine bar or cheese tasting occasion (which they may well be doing).
I have attached a photo I snapped yesterday of lady in a gorgeous pink top, riding elegantly around the streets. It is more than the fashion, of course, it is the unhurried manor in which people ride their bikes in Frankfurt.
In Australia, it seemed as though people were all on some time-trial and would self-implode if they were a minute late to their destination. Not here, where people casually cycle and smile at each other as they pass.
COMMUNITY TABLE TENNIS AND STREET GAMES
I love seeing these steel and concrete community table tennis tables appear in the middle of residential streets.
“Here is a government that considers its’ citizens’ health and wellbeing. Slow down and have a friendly game of table tennis. It’s okay: the hurried life can wait.”
Our little community table is often used by locals laughing and enjoying a game – often holding a beer with one hand. Such a terrific way to bring people out from TV Land and into the streets, which is what community is all about.
About the author:
Matthew Reynolds is an accountant, management consultant and Virtual CFO living in Frankfurt.
Matthew is available to work with expat companies and businesses requiring assistance in Frankfurt or global companies seeking to expand operations to Australia.