The day after our walk along the Main to the cathedral, we embarked on a different walk but to the same end destination. We took the metro to the Alte Oper stop and ascended the escalator to the spacious plaza, dominated by the ‘Alte Oper’ (Old Opera) concert hall. Originally opened in 1880, Frankfurt’s opera house met its demise in the Second World War, when like many other buildings, it was completely burnt out. Fortunately at least, parts of the impressive facade remained more or less in tact so that the appearance of the present day building is a faithful reproduction of the old.
We stopped for a while in the sunny plaza, enjoying an ice cream from the cleverly located Movenpick stall and watching cyclists and pedestrians go by. Wandering down Opernplatz we passed a number of cafes, which spill out onto the clean cobbles during fine weather.
We walked along Grosse Bockenheimer Strasse and towards Zeil, passing the usual collection of European high street chains. An Apple store, H&M, Zara, it is like most other large European cities in terms of retail outlets with few surprises. It is also not cheap, with clothes prices at least comparable to what you would find in Central London. On a Saturday afternoon, the city centre was teeming with shoppers but the one relief is that many of the main shopping streets are quite wide and pedestrianised meaning that you only have to watch out for foot rather than wheel traffic.
Zeil eventually hits another large square called Konstablerwache. Every Saturday a farmers market is set up and the place becomes a hub of daytime Frankfurt social life. While the produce for sale – tomatoes, herbs, apples peaches – looked tempting and healthy, the real focus seemed to be on the small cluster of open-air bars in the middle of the market. Cooked sausages and glasses of apfelwein looked like they were easily outselling fresh fruit and vegetables as customers vied not just for empty benches, but also for empty bar tables where it was standing room only. Hoards of locals, mostly well worn older men animated by over indulging in apfelwein, swarm the centre of the market to catch up with friends and colleagues. We stopped for a couple of glasses of apple wine and some less alcoholic apple juice and a couple of chewy dried frankfurter sausages from another stall. Despite the description, the sausages were actually pretty good although we did get food envy when a friend turned up with a more substantial snack of cooked sausage with mustard in a fat white bread roll. For anyone in Frankfurt on a Saturday and especially on a sunny day, I really can’t recommend this market enough as it was full of good food, drink and company.
From here, we walked south to the Romer by way of the Kleinmarkthalle, an undercover German and international food market. It is worth a look if you’re nearby but lacked the atmosphere of the outdoor market at Konstablerwache.
We flew by the Romer this time as we had a ferry to catch to Gerbermuehle from the quayside, barely a three minute walk south of the Romer square.