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Frankfurt & Bamberg

August 12, 2023   

Europe’s de facto financial capital, brimming with historical charm.

Walking through the train station

The walk from our hotel, conveniently located next to the train station, to our initial destination, Goethe House, was rather unsettling. The streets were lined with numerous strip clubs and casinos. Additionally, there was an abundance of inebriated individuals and people under the influence, which contributed to the unpleasant odor in the air. Walking through this area felt rather risky. However, to our surprise, once we crossed a street, the scene transformed dramatically. Skyscrapers suddenly loomed above us and the streets became clean and wide. It was as if there was an unseen boundary distinctly separating the hazardous area from the financial district.

Goethe House

This is the birthplace and childhood home of the renowned poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. My familiarity with him was limited; I knew he was a prominent poet and thinker, renowned for his insightful quotes. However, this lack of extensive knowledge didn’t hinder my appreciation for the environment that nurtured such a great man. The house, rebuilt after WWII, offered an enlightening audio guide. It highlighted the exact room where Goethe was possibly born and provided detailed information about his family, including his father and sister. It was clear that this was a family with a rich educational history that significantly contributed to Germany’s past.

Subsequently, I visited a gallery dedicated to Romanticism and Goethe, which was quite fascinating. I learned that the Frankenstein and Cologne Cathedral were products of the Romanticism movement in Germany, which was interesting to discover.


This is the city center square, renowned for the famous Frankfurt Cathedral and the old city hall that surround it. It doubles as a vibrant shopping street, bustling with numerous restaurants and souvenir shops. Buildings, each painted in a different color, are arranged harmoniously, presenting a serene and picturesque view.

Frankfurt Cathedral

Here we find yet another cathedral. I’ve come to realize that nearly every city we’ve visited boasts a cathedral of significant scale. While this one doesn’t compare to the grandeur of the Cologne Cathedral, it holds its own fame. Every king during the Holy Roman Empire era was crowned within its hallowed halls.

Struwwelpeter Museum

This hidden gem in the city center was an unexpected discovery. We initially sought refuge there from a sudden downpour, but upon realizing it was a museum dedicated to a German fairy tale author who also became a successful psychiatrist with a humanistic approach to treatment, I decided to explore further. I was particularly moved by the museum’s employment of people with disabilities, fulfilling the founder’s wish and reminding me of my own brother.

Upon entering, I was drawn in by the founder’s kindness towards individuals with disabilities. However, I soon discovered that the museum was an excellent tribute to one of Germany’s most prominent fairy tale writers, Heinrich Hoffmann, author of the famous ‘Struwwelpeter’ and ‘Nutcracker’. Although I wasn’t familiar with these stories, I was captivated by the Chinese audio guide. It was thorough and entertaining, providing a great companion to the German presentation boards in the museum.

I feel fortunate to have had the chance to learn about this remarkable man. His fame as a national fairy tale writer is impressive, but his integrity and genuine kindness towards people with mental illness is what truly touched me. He considered his greatest achievement and proudest moment to be the establishment of a hospital that provided humane care, rather than his renowned fairy tale book. I admire his life’s work and his ethical principles.

I hope that one day I will have the opportunity to read his book. I trust I’m not too old for that.

Iron Footbridge

This bridge also serves as a love lock bridge, albeit with significantly fewer locks. In addition to that, it provides an outstanding view of the River Main and Frankfurt’s modern skyline. Interestingly, I noticed a number lock on the wall. I presume the person who placed it there can unlock it with the correct password whenever they wish right lol?

Städel Museum

We didn’t visit the museum, largely because I feel somewhat weary of pure art museums due to my limited background knowledge and interest in this area. However, we found the free-access garden, Sun Rise East, intriguing due to its fascinating sculpture collection.

Main Tower

The observatory in this skyscraper left much to be desired, as the views from the top were entirely obstructed by a newly erected skyscraper. As a result, we were unable to catch a glimpse of any historical parts of Frankfurt, such as the cathedral and the city center square. Additionally, we had to deal with a long line. However, the sight of the Euro Tower on our way there was a pleasant surprise.


Driving there

I chose to visit this quaint town because it is where a childhood friend, whom I haven’t seen in at least five years, is currently studying at the local university. It felt magical that we could all reunite here, thousands of miles away from our hometown. The journey was thrilling, with significantly fewer cars on the road, allowing me to reach speeds of over 200 km per hour - the fastest I’ve ever driven. The experience just made me so happy, but of course, safety remained a priority.

Schweinshaxe dinner

I was overjoyed to see my old friend again. All our childhood memories flooded back, and it felt as though he hadn’t changed a bit. Despite the years apart, I felt a familiar connection with him. I was eager to learn about his studies and his thoughts on history, his major, as well as his impressions of the country. It was wonderful to find out that he’s enjoying his time here, and our chance meeting was a delightful surprise. Naturally, I ordered Schweinshaxe again - it’s always irresistibly good.

Walking in the town

The town was brimming with life. We observed people casually holding beers as they stood on the bustling streets. Despite the crowd, the cultural richness was intriguing, giving me the feeling of experiencing Germany firsthand. A free live concert was underway, contributing to the high-spirited ambiance. We explored the town, from the central cathedral to the riverside, where we were treated to stunning sunset views and their reflections in the river. We sat by the lake, the view leaving us speechless.

Frankfurt is an incredible city. I was able to appreciate its gentle charm, underpinned by a rich historical foundation that has propelled it to its current status as a financial hub. Moreover, the joy of reuniting with an old friend is simply indescribable. I would absolutely love to revisit this city and undoubtedly meet this dear friend again in Germany.

Haojin Li
CompSci + PoliSci undergrad - because one major alone wasn’t enough to confuse me.