(photo credit: Nathan Wise)
When I stepped off the train in the center of Frankfurt last week at 8 a.m., it
was already around 30 degrees Celsius and by afternoon it would be 35 degrees.
But coming from Tel Aviv I wasn’t going to let the heat stop me. I had nine
hours to explore the city.
My day journey to this lovely city on the Main
River did not start at the train station, however. I was a media guest of
Lufthansa on a non-commercial exhibition road show flight from Tel Aviv on the
new Boeing 747- 8. The plane, dubbed the “Queen of the Skies,” is the updated
version of the famous Boeing 747-400 jumbo jet.
The new B747-8 has a
higher number of business class seats that stretch out into horizontal beds that
are very comfortable. Lufthansa says it has invested 3 billion euros in its
business class seat and product. The plane is also more fuel efficient and has a
Lufthansa is the launch customer of the new jet and will
not fly with it to Tel Aviv, but travelers to Israel may be able to enjoy the
plane on one of the legs of their trip. The airline currently flies the plane to
select destinations in the US, India and the Far East.
On the flight I
was offered a choice of three meals for dinner, and I chose the braised lamb
with chickpeas, eggplant and mashed pumpkin puree – which was delightful. Most
impressive was the wide-ranging continental wine list from which I sampled three
German white wines, from three different regions, all splendid.
flight attendant who hailed from Frankfurt gave me a last-minute briefing and I
was ready for my nine-hour tour.
The airport is a 15-minute train ride
from the center of the city. The old medieval center of town surrounding Romer
Square was largely destroyed by allied bombing during World War II, but a number
of old buildings were rebuilt and the enormous Dom Cathedral remained intact. I
headed to the nearby complex that includes the Judengasse Museum, the Holocaust
memorial commemorating the some 12,000 Jews of Frankfurt who were murdered by
the Nazis, and the ancient Jewish cemetery.
The cemetery dates back to
the 13th century, which was not long after the Jews came to settle in the
The Nazis destroyed most of the tombstones in 1942 but some remain.
The outer wall of the cemetery has embedded into it separate plaques for each of
the murdered Frankfurt Jews, which include the name, the birth and death years,
and the place of death of each individual.
The Judengasse (literally
Jews’ alley) was the ghetto where the Jews of Frankfurt lived between the 15th
and 19th centuries.
Foundations of some of the homes in the area are
preserved in the Judengasse Museum, which also has revolving exhibits of Jewish
The scion of the famous Frankfurt Rothschild family, Mayer
Amschel was born in the Judengasse in 1744. The other Jewish museum in the city,
the Judisches Museum, is housed in a mansion that belonged to the Rothschild
family on the Main River. That museum contains a large exhibit on the history of
the city’s Jewish community.
The main downtown commercial strip is a
pedestrian mall called The Zeil. I headed away from the shopping street towards
the residential neighborhoods above it, from Berger Street in the east to the
botanical garden in the west.
This walk takes you out of the touristy and
commercial core, and offers you a glimpse of the urban living style of
Frankfurters. Streets contain a mix of modern and older apartment blocks that
are impeccably maintained.
Gardens were bursting with flowers and parks
graced with ancient trees.
The botanical gardens in the Westend district
of Frankfurt contain the forest and meadow landscape of Central Europe and are a
quiet respite from the city.
The neighboring Grunewald Park is a green
oasis in the midst of the urban sprawl, which the Rotschild family once owned
and in which they built their famous “Palais.” The family home was taken by the
Nazis in the 1930s and destroyed by Allied bombing during the war.
in the center of the city, the Main Tower, one of the tallest skyscrapers in the
country, has a viewing platform on its 56th floor from where I could see in
panorama all the ground that I had covered that day.
satisfied, it was time to go back to the airport for my flight home to Tel Aviv
– convinced that leaving the airport and exploring Frankfurt was well worth
it.The writer was a guest of Lufthsansa.