Businessmen may turn up their noses at it, but there’s a lot of fun to be had in Sachsenhausen.
Let’s face it, Frankfurt is not really a buzzing, touristy city. Most visitors are struck by the gleaming towers, scurrying office workers, and the rather down-at-heel area around the main railway station. The museum embankment – Museumsufer – alongside the river is active, well organised and innovative, and there are a couple of good riverside places for an evening drink. But if you didn’t know about Sachsenhausen, you could be forgiven for coming away with the impression that the city emptied of people after office hours.
Recreation in Frankfurt is not just about the joggers on the banks of the Main and the art on the walls of the museums. If you keep on walking from the east end of the Museumsufer and deviate a little inland, you’ll eventually reach Sachsenhausen, a refuge from commerce where the atmosphere is always one of quiet celebration.
Whether you’ll have a good experience with Ebbelwoi may depend on the time of year
Sachsenhausen is to this city what the East End is to London; traditionally, the Frankfurter cockneys live here, but instead of eating jellied eels, pie and mash, they sit down at long open-air tables to tuck into Handkäs with Musik (hard cheese with chopped onions, aka Musik because of the flatulence they produce), or even Grüne Soße (curd cheese with finely chopped onions and green sauce made up of seven different types of herb) eaten with eggs and potatoes , all of it washed down with Ebbelwoi (apple wine).
Bars and restaurants are jammed cheek-by-jowl into Old Sachsenhausen’s narrow, pedestrian-only streets, particularly around Grosse Rittergasse, Kleine Rittergasse and Paradiesgasse. Most of these establishments are less authentic than those in neighbouring Affentorplatz, where those that sell Ebbelwoi, such as Struwwelpeter, have a garland of fir branches hanging outside. In these places the locals are marked by their ruminative stare and the lids on their glasses, supposedly to keep the Micke – Frankfurt dialect for flies – out of the brew. Whether you’ll have a good experience with Ebbelwoi may depend on the time of year; in late summer it starts sweet, getting progressively more alcoholic and bitter as the months progress. By Christmas it can knock you off your chair, Micke and all.
Most of the genuine Ebbelwoi places are family run, along the same lines as beer gardens, and some have live entertainment in the evenings. Outside the lively pedestrian areas, popular venues are Apfelwein Wagner on Schweizerstrasse and Zur Germania on Textorstrasse. The city also runs a tram service called the Ebbelwoi Express, on a regular hop-on hop-off itinerary through the city centre and out to Sachsenhausen, with pretzels and applewine included in the price.