How many of you have changed planes in Frankfurt over the years? I have changed planes here at least half a dozen times, on the way to or from: Tripoli, Turkmenistan, and Tabouli to name a few. Frankfurt Main Airport is one of the busiest international airports in the world, and of course, a hub for the state airline, Lufthansa. The airport is the biggest cargo airport in Europe. Over 342 trains daily arrive and depart for other parts of Germany, as well as Europe. But little do I know about this great German city.
I recall from Uncle Murl’s world history class as a sophomore in high school, only a few pertinent facts about Germany. Names pass by, like Charlemagne, the Holy Roman Empire, storming of the Bastille, the Napoleonic Wars, WW 1 and 2, and the old Common Market. In fact, it was Charlemagne, the Kings of the Franks, who gave the city its name, after winning a battle against the Saxons. He called it “Ford of the Franks” or Frankfurt.
I first spent a night here back in the 70s, when the U.S. Army or Air Force had a big presence here. I even had dinner at an air or army base, pretending we were GI’s with long hair, cold war spies perhaps. I also stayed in Wiesbaden for many days, and spent a day in Kaiserslautern as well. Frankfurt sells themselves as the largest financial center on the continent. It is home to the European Central Bank, Deutsche Bundesbank, and the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. Over 4 million tourists a year visit this city.
And only one person in three do not hold a German passport. Fully 51% of the population has an immigrant background. Why does this work so well here? Yet, it is only the fifth largest city in Germany, with about 2.3 million people, behind Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne, and Munich, my personal favorite. Catholics (23%) make up the largest segment of religion, followed by Protestants (19%), with Muslims (12%) third. Over 180 nationalities live here peacefully.
The city is located on both sides of the Main River. My train from Munich will arrive at Frankfurt Central Station (Hauptbahnhof), which opened back in 1888. Not only the people here are called Frankfurters, the sausages also answer to that name! The Frankfurter Buchmesse is the largest trade show for books in the world. Big publishing deals are closed here, Barry the V!!!!
The famous writer, Johann Wolfgang Goethe was born here, with his birthplace now a museum. It is possible to see the puppet he played with as a child. Frankfurt was home to the inventor of the printing press, Johannes Gutenberg. You can spot a memorial dedicated to him and the early funders of the printing press in the city centre, Rossmarkt.
See you back home around midnight Wednesday. It will be a looooong day, but made easier by following the sun. I need to see Sheri, my little puppy, Lexi, and my own bed!