I hit up Frankfurt am Main (Germany) the day before the European Ironman Championship, which was to be held on Sun. July 6th. I had an 11:30PM (23:30) bus to Prague. I set my phone to European time (24 hour clock), which made it a lot easier to schedule arrivals and departures, and to figure out bus schedules. I plan my travels between cities to arrive in the daytime so I’m not wandering around someplace new in the middle of the night–which is why I had a whole day in Frankfurt in the first place. It was a very easy bus and train trip from Wiesbaden to Frankfurt. I had quite a bit of time to wander around town, the train station had storage for my luggage, which was nice, plus it was right next to the bus station and conveniently located right in the middle of town. One really big advantage to traveling by train or bus in Europe is that the stations are right in the middle of town rather than located miles out of the way, unlike airports.
Frankfurt was pretty severely bombed during WWII, and it has a skyline more typical of an American city, with skyscrapers reminding one of Manhattan. Most of the old part of the city was completely destroyed. After the war, Frankfurt became the financial center of Germany, since it’s main rival, Berlin, was divided up by the Berlin Wall. Frankfurt is located on the Main River, which is where I spent most of my time walking while I was there. Up and down the riverbank, and back and forth across different bridges. One side of the Main River was lined with booths set up for the Ironman, miles of tents selling high end sporting gear. 99% of the goods were way out of my league, not to mention my price range, but it was interesting to wander through and look at the equipment. There were also thousands of very fit athletic types all over town, not to mention tens of thousands of visitors there just for the event. It was a big deal, and had, I believe, 100 qualifying spots for the World Championship Ironman held in Hawai’i later this year.
Given more time to research out where to go, I’m sure that Frankfurt has it’s own attractions, the Opera House, a number of museums, but mostly I just wandered the streets, sampled food and beer and did a lot of people watching. After dark, I returned to the train/bus station, and spent a few hours at an outdoor sportsbar, watching Argentina beat the Netherlands in a World Cup soccer match. World Cup soccer was a big deal in Germany this year, as they were on a pretty good winning streak and Germans were celebrating pretty wildly. The bus station was a bit sketchy late at night, and it was a guessing game to figure out which stop was the correct one to catch the bus to Prague, but eventually I did find the right spot, and managed to get on the right bus and was on my way to the Czech Republic. One thing you can count on in Germany, the trains and buses will always run exactly on schedule.