Frankfurt is a very serious town. Not only is it the heart of the German economic machine, but it also serves as the home of the European Central Bank, making it a city of global financial interest. In spite of, or maybe because of, this commitment to work and the bottom line, Frankfort also has a lighthearted side.
I saw this proclivity towards the avant-garde throughout my Hessian wanderings, but nowhere is it as well demonstrated as through the odd, but entertaining, Ebbelwei-Express.
This colorful trolley tour combines a tour of the historic city with one of its main exports, Ebbelwei or Apfelwein. This portable potent potable was news to me, and I listened with newfound interest in the brightly colored trolleys as the guide explained the process. “First,” began Jens, “it has a very unique taste.” right, gotcha, that’s international code for it tastes like crap.
“But” continued the guide, “by the third one you start to like it.” Interesting, I thought, an alcoholic beverage of which a European was wary, this couldn’t be good.
Apfelwein, Apple Wine in English, is indeed a strange brew, not the cider taste one necessarily expects. It’s much more sour and is akin to imbibing vinegar or liquid sour patch kids. Turns out Jens was right though, by the fourth one it suddenly becomes delicious and asking for another is an irresistible temptation. By that point many other things suddenly make sense, like belting out Neil Diamond songs in the middle of the street and repeatedly reminding everyone that they have suddenly become your new best friend. Maybe that’s why they started the trolley, to quarantine the mad cider imbibers.
This unique sightseeing tour takes place on weekends and public holidays and includes a full, one-hour city tour, a bottle of ebbelwei and a package of pretzels for good measure. The hop-on-hop-off tour includes a visit to the Römer, the zoo, travel across the Main River and, of course, a stop at the famous Ebbelwei district in Sachsenhausen. Here you can find a multitude of Ebbelwei bars specializing in their own variation on a distinctly regional specialty.
Next time you find yourself in this usually staid, button town city, be sure to grab the closest banker (not a hard feat) and head straightaway for the neon colored Ebbelwei-Express. Remember though, it’s better once you can’t taste it anymore.