The woman at reception was very very friendly and told me exactly how to walk to the alt-stadt: out, right, left, halfway across the bridge, down the stairs, right. I was indeed just one block from the river Main. It's a grim, bleak, grey, cold day, not quite raining but threatening to do so. The first things which catch my eyes are a large chimney belching fumes and a regular stream of aircraft landing at the airport (it is, after all, only 4 stops away on the tube) plus helicopters. No-one would really say it looks pretty, even me, but I am very happy with everything.
Underneath the bridge is a skate park, entirely occupied by small kids and their parents using it as a covered playground in preference to the actual playground next door. Mostly that means 4 year olds rolling down quarter pipes. Along the riverside park paths there are runners, few other people, and a slow police van. As I get closer to the good stuff my tinnitus goes absolutely crazy until I realise there's someone with an angle grinder carving metal and everyone else can hear it too.
On the other side is Sacshenhausen, the south part of Frankfurt which I have a vague memory of reading about as benign somewhere worth visiting. Immediately as I descend I turn left, walk past a huge cathedral I am way too close to get a decent photo of, and then go inland. There's a sign to an 'alt Sachsenhausen' car park but I'm not interested in a car park, and the force is telling me to turn left, so I do. Suddenly I'm in a regular shopping district but stumbling across a record store - loads of vinyl in the window and some excellent Slayer wooden merchandise. It's called Sick Records (possibly Wreckords?), it isn't open, and I can't get even an approximation of a decent photo of anything because it's all too reflective.
Further up the road I find a square with a park and loads of leaves on the ground but nothing particularly old. I don't think I've found where I'm looking for, and I head right. After a few random turns, I stumble across a large railway station which looks pretty but has no viewing angles and anyway fully half of it appears to be a McDonald's.
A couple of turns later and there's a prettier platz, and I'm back amongst lots of shops. The whole area seems cosmopolitan, somewhat well to do though not without character or a slight edge, and basically just a pretty damn nice place to spend some time. The weather isn't helping at all, so nothing really looks photogenic, but that doesn't stop me dicking around with my real camera - brought on this trip specifically in the hope that I can make my blog look prettier. The nicest thing in the vicinity is a gated residential block's garden.
Eventually it starts to rain - just as I stop to write down a brain dump of the previous hour, hilariously - so I decide I should head back towards the Frankfurt side of the river. The rain is not heavy but I fear it may become so. As I reach the nearest bridge I glance right and, oh, hang on, have I just walked a big square all around the actual good stuff? Back along the riverfront and I find a bunch of museums and a garden and promenade - Museumsufer, it's called - and while I'm not going to actually dive into any culture, it's nice to take some photos of the international hat surrounded by it.
Further up and there's still plenty of old architecture, but it is contributing a lower percentage in general. Pretty soon I am at Hauptwache, a U-Bahn station plus large pedestrianised area with many many shops in all directions but an old church and restaurant as well. This is useful, I have my bearings, and begin to head east until I spot super aggressive chuggers. I have no patience for them in England let alone Germany, so I look purposeful and duck away only to rejoin the main thoroughfare a bit further along.
There are buskers and street artists, mimes and stuff. Some of them are clowns doing bird calls and other silly noises (seriously, there's more than one of those guys) and then a trio of accordion players giving a rendition of la Macarena. There's really no need for this.
There's nothing of real interest here and I'm on the verge of giving up and going back to the brewery until, oh, look, a huge square with a giant market. It reminds me of Helsinki last year, except without the sunshine or fish or water. Most of the stalls seem to be fruit, veg, or flowers until I venture further in and it turns into meat and alcohol. Wunderbar.
I can't pick a stall until I do, ordering a bratwurst mit bro and some apfelwein. There are 3 Frankfurt-y culinary experiences I had on my mind (not including a Frankfurter): handkåse mit musik, grune soße, and apfelwein/ebbelwoi. Handkåse mit musik means "hand cheese with music": it's cheese rolled by hand until it's translucent, and "the music comes later" - a reference to the fact it'll make you fart aterwards. I had been massively looking forward to trying this, but sadly did not do so.
Grune soße is some weird green sauce, I put almost negative research into that one. And apfelwein is the local alcohol of choice, "apple wine" aka some kind of cider. I hate cider, but screw it, I'll give it a go. The men at the bratwurst stand both ask if I want it hot or cold and I ask, what's best? "Have you had it before?" "No" "Then cold" goes the rest of the conversation, and I go sit down with my sausage and cider.
It's really not awful. It should be, in fact I kind of want it to be, but it's not. I'm surprised. The bratwurst is lovely but perhaps that's because it's my first solids of the day. As I leave I notice that I've been sitting at a table reserved for local OAPs - in fact, all of the food and drink stalls here are occupied by hordes of pensioners getting shitfaced on some kind of -wein or beer and eating sausage. I approve.
Back up to Hauptwache and down to the brewery, via Paulskirche and Ratskeller - more excellent architecture I missed first time round. A very closely grouped huddle of Chinese tourists walk along in one moving circle, with cameras pointing out from all angles, and it's very funny. Back near city hall there is a plaque on the ground I later learn is a memorial for Nazi book burning in 1933. They really were twats, eh? Thank goodness the world no longer has all that racism and bigotry and anti-intellectualism 'n that. Oh.
Once I reach the brewery, I decide it actually looks a bit too restauranty for my liking and carry on walking, towards the new innenstadt with all the high rise offices and other fancy new shit. Once again I'm on the verge of giving up and diving into somewhere random until, wait, what? Here's a giant park and an even bigger Euro symbol. Seriously, this is one giant €.
Turns out I'm at the European central bank. Who knew that was in central Frankfurt? Probably an awful lot of people, to be honest. Certainly the authors of the anti-ECB/money graffiti around the place.
The Canadian woman at the Air Canada lounge lets me in and I calm down. I've walked way further than should be necessary in any airport and am a bit aggravated by the whole experience. Rejection can get to a man. But, there's self serve faux champagne and a wave of relaxation arrives.
I totally fill my boots in this place. A glass of fizzy wine. A seat in the quiet area near the private booths with personal TVs. A plate full of pasta and cabbage and sandwiches and potatoes. Another plate full of sugary pastries and doughnuts. Another glass of fizzy wine - it's really nice - just as a new bottle arrives in the bucket. A huge pretzel and self-poured glass of Franziskaner. This is what it's all about.
Boarding time is apparently one hour before departure, so I wander down at about T-45 or so. The gate is close and priority boarding is working very well - I just go straight to the desk, hand over my phone, and a loud alarm sounds repeatedly when they scan it. Um. What? While a man taps at a computer with his brow furrowed, another asks me how I'm doing. Well, I was doing fine...
More tapping and I'm through. Seat 3A in business class. Hello, LAN Chile airlines flight to Santiago, Chile. This flight is the centrepiece of this trip, the pinnacle of my whole November travels: a new airline, a new business class, a long haul plane (Boeing 787) for a short haul flight. No, I'm not going to Chile, I'm only on this for a couple of hours - there's a stop in Madrid. Without any shenanigans - mistakes, miles, etc - this single flight cost about £100 and I'm sure I've already drunk and eaten that much in the lounge.
Doesn't mean I'm stopping there, of course. An exuberant member of cabin crew introduces himself to me and offers me a pre-flight drink. I've heard great things about the LAN "pisco sour", so I tell him I've heard great things about the pisco sour and he looks delighted and fucks off to get me one. A minute or so later he returns telling me he's so sorry but they don't have any, but they'll refill in Madrid. Not much use to me... so I guess I'll slum it with champagne.
He pours me a very small glass. It's nice, but very small. Come on man.
The seat is great. I've only been on a 787 before with Qatar Airways, whose business class cabin is 4 abreast - 1-2-1 - whereas this is 6 abreast, 2-2-2. If there was someone sat in 3C I would have had to clamber over them, but no-one ever did. The seats are still very roomy and comfortable and there's a nice big TV screen, with very responsive touchscreen controls which is handy because my remote is almost entirely broken but for the volume control.