Living in the Bahnhofsviertel of Frankfurt

Bahnhofsviertel is our neighborhood. It means train station section, literally translated. And Germans know this area best as being one of the biggest red light districts in Germany. And an area that one should avoid. So why do we live here?

Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof
Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof

Because it’s never boring. Frankfurt is making quite an effort to change the area into an actual destination rather than one to avoid.  Hipster bars and restaurants are popping up, and every few weeks one of the older, more dilapidated shops gets exchanged for a new burger bar or bakery.

Ah yes, bakeries in Bahnhofsviertel. Well, all the commuters heading from the Hauptbahnhof (central train station) down Kaiserstraße certainly never want for their morning bread or pretzel.

Just around the corner,  a new bakery, Kaiser Zeit, just opened a month or two ago.
Just around the corner, a new bakery, Kaiser Zeit, opened a month or two ago.

Each street in the Bahnhofsviertel has a particular purpose.  Kaiserstraße has one restaurant or bar or bakery after another. Münchener Straße focuses more on the many ethnicities in Frankfurt, and has plenty of cafes and restaurants and other stores selling various goods. This is Frankfurt’s melting pot. Gutleutstraße is quieter and considered more posh as it gets closer to the river.  On the other side of Kaiserstraße is the beastly Taunusstraße. This gem is the one to avoid. After a few weeks living here, I decided to go for a walk in one of Frankfurt’s more posh areas, Westend, which is literally 4 blocks north of my apartment in Bahnhofsviertel. This turned out to be a mistake, and one that I wouldn’t make again. Walking past Taunusstraße around 1:30PM, I encountered drug addicts milling around the methadone clinic, sex workers, strip club and prostitution house bouncers, and some other quite shady characters. But I reminded myself, I lived in New York for 6 years, and  this shouldn’t be a bother! Well even so, Taunusstraße takes it to another league. A league I have no interest in being a part of.

Bahnhofsviertel
Bahnhofsviertel
The view down Münchener Straße
The view down Münchener Straße

So why do we live here?! Because there are so many people. One of my favorite things about New York is walking outside and even when alone, never feeling alone. So on our 3 day apartment-searching tour back in February, I fell in love with this apartment, the exact apartment we were looking for. Very old building, but the apartment is completely renovated and so is the building exterior. Very high ceilings with old details remaining. The building is historically protected, which Germans call Denkmalschutz, so this means we are not allowed to change the apartment door with the big clear window at the top, for example.

The city is investing in the area by providing incentives to building owners who renovate their building. Scaffolding is currently everywhere. Oh what fun it is to constantly hear drills, hammers and construction worker shouting. And darting past windows after a shower to avoid the construction workers walking on the scaffolding. Well at least my tolerance for public displays increased after my time in apartment buildings in NYC. But the bright side is soon we should have a beautiful building inside and out. I wonder when that will be…

The exterior of our building built in 1898.
The exterior of our building built in 1898.
And the interior in its current state.
And the interior in its current state.

I have seen the vibe of the area change even in the last five months. Recently the city of Frankfurt held a party called Bahnhofsviertelnacht and the main purpose was to inject positive energy into the area. Indeed, take a look at the turnout:

Bahnhofsviertelnacht: August 21, 2014
Bahnhofsviertelnacht: August 21, 2014

Our adopted neighborhood was crowded! We took a drink at the bar across the street, Planck, which is coffee shop by day, and bar by night, and a hipster hangout all day long. What’s interesting is how the trend for a neighborhood turnover is the same regardless of the city or the country.  And it gives you hope.

One of our favorite restaurants in the area called Walon and Rosetti does it just right. It has a neighborhood hangout feel, but in reality it attracts people from all over the city. The first time we walked by, we were drawn in, though we could barely find a seat. We ended up at the bar with one of the best meals we have had in Frankfurt, and we keep coming back for it. The food is more an art form than it is just a meal. Each dish is carefully curated and the menu is seasonally revamped. We recently had the pleasant experience of conversing with Mr. Rosetti after we couldn’t get a table, and his connection to the neighborhood is so genuine, we just can’t help but get excited. And their food… oh their fresh, flavorful food. I guess we will be back there again next week!

Walon and Rosetti, gearing up for ready for Friday night.
Walon and Rosetti, gearing up for Friday night.

Tonight M and I are flying to Barcelona. This is certainly the best perk of living in the middle of Europe, considering a flight to anywhere in Europe is no more than 2 hours. We will meet my friend Anna, and spend the weekend digging into Barcelona! M has been saying he can’t wait to land and have tapas once we get to the city at 11PM, but after a little research, I learned tapas are not native to Catalonia, the region Barcelona is located in, but instead we should be eating Pintxos, particularly popular in Basque country! Well it’s a good thing I checked…we can’t be eating the wrong style of small dishes while in Barcelona. It looks like the main difference is Pintxos are eaten with toothpicks and served on a piece of bread. That’s fine, Spanish food, spiked or not, will be on the menu tonight!

M and I have spent the summer journeying on weekends, and I have to say, it has been spectacular. And we have lots of fun things coming up, too… until next time, adios!

 

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