This is the second of a three part series on all the best things in Frankfurt. Part I covers Activities, Part II covers Restaurants and Bars, and Part III covers Shopping and Other (coming soon).
Best Frankfurter restaurant (Apple wine tavern)
Many Germans will tell you that Frankfurt is not very German, and the one of the key things that makes Frankfurters different is their love of Apple wine over beer. Most likely you will not like Apple wine as many believe it’s an acquired taste, but it’s worth a try, and the best place to do so is at Kanonesteppel (map), a traditional Frankfurter Apfelweinkneipe. In addition to the drink, they have fantastic food, some specific to Frankfurt, and most, light on the wallet and heavy on the stomach.
Best (non-Frankfurter) German restaurant
Klosterhof (map) is a very popular German restaurant near Willy Brandt Platz and after eating there, you will understand why. Just be sure to make a reservation.
There aren’t many but I absolutely love Bier-Hannes (map) for their solid beer and hearty food at very reasonable prices. The ambiance and service is incredibly homey, but unfortunately it’s located very far from the center of town. Braustil (map), a relatively new microbrewery, is much closer to the center of town and is situated in a converted petrol station, but it doesn’t serve food and there is a little bit of a yuppie tax on the price.
Best Japanese restaurant
Mangetsu (map). This is a toss up since since there are many good Japanese restaurants in Frankfurt for all price ranges and style. I like Mangetsu for it’s Izakaya-style eatery at a reasonable price. Iwase (map) is also a good alternative, more central but a bit pricier. I have not been to the super pricey restaurants like Kabuki or Sushimoto but they are supposed to be fantastic as well.
Best Chinese restaurant
I have not been to too many Chinese restaurants in Frankfurt, but I love Pak Choi (map). In a rather sketchy area of town near the central train station, this unassuming restaurant offers no shortage of flavor, spice, portion size, and grease for a very affordable price. I highly recommend going with as many people as possible to try many dishes.
Kebabs in Germany are what Mexican food or Pizza is in the U.S., late night munchies for the drunk and delirious. Nevertheless, Bistro Sahin (map) has fantastic Kebabs and Turkish food that’s worth the trek sober (it’s also a restaurant, not a stand).
Best African restaurant
When people talk about African food in Frankfurt, it’s the Ethiopian variety with large plates of mostly meat that you share with the table. Im Herzen Afrikas (map) has by far the best ambiance (think indoor beach) and delicious food.
Best borderless (cuisine) restaurant
Textor (map) serves food of various cuisines, all modified for available ingredients and local tastes, and executed with refinement to match the soothing ambiance.
Best cocktail bar
My personal favorite is O-Ton (map). According to my friend, the head bartender (maybe owner?) has won multiple prizes; he’s made me some fantastic and unique drinks in the past. The place can get rather crowded on Fridays and Saturdays.
Best outdoor cafe/bar
Maincafé (map) by the Untermainbrücke is easily the best place to drink alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages in the summertime while lounging around with locals on the grass. If you get hungry, there is a boat selling döner kebab nearby.
Best indoor cafe
I don’t drink coffee or tea so I wouldn’t know.
Few weeks ago, I attended Web Summit 2014 in Dublin, a kind of tech and startup fair similar to Tech Crunch Disrupt (companies weren’t all internet based). This is probably the largest fair/conference of its kind in Europe and with 20,000 participants, the scale was quite impressive.
One of the marquee speakers at the event was Bono from U2. He sat down with Dana Brunetti, Eric Wahlforss, and Bill McGlashan in the last session of the three day event and discussed the future of music and how new technologies are enabling bands to publish more easily now than in the past. A garage band with some tech and software savviness can easily get their music out to their world. At one point in the discussion, Bono compared startups to bands.
- Both startups and bands are usually a small group of friends trying to change the world and make it big
- Both have tendencies to pull off ridiculous stunts in order to get people’s attention
- Startups try to raise venture capital, bands try to sign contacts with record labels
- Startups have pitch decks, bands have demo tapes
- Many startups and bands have ridiculous names
- Many people who are part of startups or bands have day jobs on the side to pay the bill (probably less for startups)
- Most startups and bands ultimately won’t make it big, and those involved will end up working for other people
Ultimately the startup and band industries are number games; there simply isn’t a way for everyone to succeed. This is why venture capitalists fund many companies and record labels sign many bands.
I don’t know how much Bono thought about the comparison when he made the statement, but he’s the one who has made it. One could even call him the Google of bands.
Web Summit was fantastic, listening to all the new ideas coming out and basking in the endless optimism emanating from the entrepreneurs. At the same time, there was something slightly melancholic standing there with thousands of people listening to Bono, realizing that many of the ideas will ultimate go nowhere. Our world is built on dreams, both of those who succeed and fail, and it’s beautiful that people can keep dreaming.
Photo from Independent.ie
This is the first of a three part series on all the best things in Frankfurt. Part I covers Activities, Part II covers Restaurants and Bars, and Part III covers Shopping and Other (coming soon).
Best summertime activity
There are many many festivals in Frankfurt over the summer, the biggest of which is the Museumfest. Be sure to check out the events calendar. If there are no festivals, go to the Kleinmarkthalle (map), buy some food and wine and enjoy a nice afternoon picnic by the side of the Main.
Best rainy day activity
Frankfurt is known as the museum city in Germany so there are no shortages of museums. I have not been to enough to suggest the best one (though I do like the Money Museum for a slightly different experience), but be sure to get the MuseumsuferTicket if you’re planning to visit few.
Best winter activity
If you’re in town between late November and Christmas, be sure to check out the Christmas Market at Römer and surrounding areas (map). While not as well known as the other Christmas markets in Europe, there is fantastic variety and it’s big without being too big. It can get very busy in the evenings so be warned. If you missed the Christmas Market, see “Best rainy day activity” above.
Best cliche tourist activity
The Apple Wine Tram. Yes it looks tacky, yes it is tacky, but it’s not expensive and you get to combine drinking with a mode of transportation. The music may drive you nuts, but least you get mini-pretzels with it.
Best culinary discovery activity
I help organize an English Tuesday night eating and drinking club called Drinkstag (it’s a play on the German word for Tuesday, Dienstag, not “Drink Stag”) where we go to a different restaurant or bar every week. We’re doing our best not to repeat places.
Best “you have to do it once” activity
Beer bike. You need to get a group of dedicated drinkers and bikers for this, but it is a fun way to spend an afternoon combining beer and exercise. (Note: it looks like beer bikes may have been banned in Frankfurt)
Best “I forgot how fun that was” activity
Not that it’s Frankfurt specific in any way, if you have a large group, Lasertag can be surprisingly fun. Just remember, many Germans have military training.
I’ve only been to two, but for box-style Karaoke venues run by Chinese people, I recommend Melody (map) over Assad for their 9.90 euros all you can drink beer and endless snacks (go in a group and rent out a room). For bars, most Irish pubs in town have Karaoke nights.
Best movie theater for non-German speakers
Cinestar Metropolis is the main theater in town and has showings in “Original Voice” (OV), be sure to checkout the website where you can also buy tickets for popular new-releases. For other non-German movies, checkout Frankfurt International Film Listing.
Best random Monday night activity
And this one is actually random. Cinestar Metropolis has “Sneak Preview” on Monday evenings at 21:00 where they show unreleased (at least in Germany) English movies in its original language. You don’t know the movie until it starts playing, so you are really gambling but at a reduced cost. Be sure to book early since it often fills up.
Best “hey, that’s cool” activity
Have you ever heard of paternosters? The old-school, open door, continuous movement elevators of death? There is still one in Frankfurt at Flemming’s Hotel by Eschenheimer Tor (map). There is an overpriced restaurant/bar at the top floor with a good view of Frankfurt if you feel guilty for taking the paternoster for no good reason besides just enjoying the ride.
(Ultimate Frisbee players can ignore the first part)
For those that don’t know, Ultimate Frisbee is a self officiated sport at almost all levels (only at the professional level are there officials). Part of the fundamental philosophies of Ultimate is the “Spirit of the Game” which places the responsibility of fair play upon the players. The rules have a built-in conflict resolution mechanism but players and teams can abuse them (and that does happen sometimes). “Spirit of the Game” (SOTG) is in a way a code of behavior that places sportsmanship above all else.
Part of this unique undertaking is the SOTG scoresheet where teams evaluate each other after the game on five elements:
- Rules Knowledge and Use
- Fouls and Body Contact
- Positive Attitude and Self-Control
Anyone who’s played in an Ultimate tournament probably have filled out an SOTG scoresheet. Normally at a tournament, there are prizes for the SOTG winner, and in official tournaments, the scores are published for teams reflect and improve.
(Ultimate players start reading here)
For official tournaments (e.g. international/national qualifiers and championships, games sanctions by official governing bodies), the official SOTG scoresheet works perfectly. However, for “fun” tournaments (the goal being more about playing and partying) and especially hat tournaments (where teams are assembled at the beginning of the tournament), I’ve found the official SOTG scoresheet to be too serious. Fair play is rarely an issue and filling out the sheet can seem rather tedious after a game.
So, after discussing with some teammates, I decided to create “The Alternate Spirit of the Game Scoresheet,” introducing elements of fun in addition to fair play.
My teammate translated it into German and we tried it in a hat tournament we organized with positive responses. Feel free to use this wherever you want, and if anyone translates this into other languages, please send it to me so I can add it to this post. Leave any suggestions for changes in the comments.
Brazilian Portuguese: A Planilha de Espírito de Jogo Alternativa (PT-BR v1) (Illustrator File)
Text file for the English version: The Alternate Spirit of the Game Score Sheet (text file)
Write out the translations for each line and send it to email@example.com. I will then lay it out and include it here.
Ever since I worked at DaimlerChrysler in 2006-2007 (before the split), I’ve been thinking about how the world will change with the advent of automated driving. The concept of automated cars have existed for a long time, and a successful highway demonstration was done as early as 1995 in San Diego. Lots have happened since then (and since I started wondering about this) such as Stanley winning the DARPA Grand Challenge and Google getting into the driverless car game and creating an adorable prototype.
Back when I was at Daimler, I had many discussions with the people there, and the general prediction was that automated highway driving will happen in 2020 and automated city driving in 2025. With Google throwing an incredible amount of capital into the game, the timeline has moved forward, and we already have semblances of automated highway driving with adaptive cruise control and automated lane keeping. Nevertheless, most of us don’t have access to the technology and still drive our very manual cars to work, to do the groceries, etc.
The technology will improve, become cheaper, and more and more people will have access. How will this future unfold? And how will it affect the way we live? (The following future forecasts are roughly in the order of near term to long term)
Staged Roll Out
Automated driving will not suddenly come to all roads at once, that kind of change is simply too disruptive. As highway driving is more simple (no need to worry about lights or pedestrians), automated highway driving will happen first. New cars with such automated features will initially drive along side manual cars, but dedicated lanes for automated driving will appear. As automated cars will require much less following distance, this will help minimize congestions on those lanes. Sooner or later, in the name of efficiency and safety, all manual driving will be banned from highways.
Manual cars fade out
As with highway driving, more and more city driving will become automated as technology improves and more infrastructure is rolled out (e.g. stop lights with cameras that can communicate with cars). Then after so many years of mixed automated and manual driving on the roads, after virtually everyone owns a car capable of automated driving, manual driving will become illegal in order to “save more lives and increase the efficiency of the roads.” This will be disruptive (all non-automated cars will become obsolete instantaneously) and people will protest (“taking away our god given right to drive!”), but it will inevitably happen. A slightly less drastic comparison: analog broadcast television is being switched off around the world as digital broadcasts are much more efficient with wireless spectrums.
Transportation become services
Public transport and any vehicle for hire with a driver are already transportation services that people utilize. The biggest reasons why more people don’t utilize taxis are financial. The labor cost of the driver is simply too expensive compared to owning a car, storing it, and driving oneself. With the cost of the driver gone, the financial advantage for owning a car becomes minimal and with ICT making arranging vehicles easier, in time, most people will forgo owning a car and rely on automated hire services.
Car brands become irrelevant
As transportation become more of a service and less about ownership, the brand value of automotive companies built up over many decades will plummet. The end user will care less about the car they are riding in and more about the service operator, the true touchpoint between the transportation system and people. You can already see this in the rental car industry where cars are being rented by category (e.g. “compact” “economy” “full size”) rather than the brands of the cars themselves (yes, they are often mentioned but with the caveat “or similar”).
The industry will consolidate
While the automotive industry has gone through multiple phases of consolidation in the past, automated driving will drastically reduce the number of automotive companies in the world (currently around 30 major players). One factor driving this would be the amount of investment required by companies to compete in the automated car world, not something all car companies will be able to afford.
Another factor is simply the declining automotive market. Currently most private cars sit idle for over twenty hours a day, slowly depreciating and becoming obsolete. With cars becoming services and being utilized virtually 24/7, the demand for cars will decline significantly, shrinking the automotive industry and forcing it to consolidate.
The third factor is that as private transportation becomes more of a service and less of a product, the purchasing dynamic will change. When millions of individuals are making somewhat rational (only cars with good gas mileage) and somewhat irrational (only cars made in my country) decisions on what cars to buy, there is room for many companies. When cars are being bought in bulk by service operators, there will be less room for companies. Think of how many companies make airplanes or trains compared to cars.
The best will vertically integrate
As car brand value diminish and cars become commoditized, the successful car companies will build upwards in the value chain creating their own transportation service along with the required background support services (e.g. maintenance). Other car companies that don’t move fast enough will become low margin commodity providers to new service providers, whoever they may be (Uber?).
Cars will not resemble what they look like today
As the wheel-less one-button Google prototype have shown, automated cars do not need the same features and aren’t bound to the same design restrictions as manual cars. While the general size of the automobile won’t change drastically due to the size of the existing roads, expect future automated cars to be very different as they become more shared vehicles for service operators. Furthermore, as most cars on the road today carry one or two people at any given time, smaller two seat cars will become the norm while the larger cars will only be hired for special occasions.
Marker less roads
Visual markers on the road are for human drivers, but automated cars will communicate with the environment and different infrastructure using much better and more reliable technologies. As such, visual markers will no longer become necessary except for places where the road intersects intersects with human traffic (pedestrian or bicycle). Automated cars will be able to move in lanes without any visual lane markers.
Cost of transportation will go down, but not so much
Currently in developed countries, consumers spend 10-20% of their income on transportation which includes automobiles, gas, public transport, etc. but not tax money spent on infrastructure. By being able to utilize cars 24/7 and not having vehicles depreciate in garages, the cost of operating a car will go down, but that’s only a fraction of the cost of transport. Insurance costs also will go down with safer cars, but there are still a lot of other costs such as energy and infrastructure. Energy cost may go down with electric cars (I’m not sure if the world supply of Lithium and battery systems can keep up or how fast cheaper, less scarce alternatives will appear) but infrastructure cost will inevitably go up with more technology involved in an automated driving system (sensors along the roads that can communicate with cars). With either taxes on people or companies, those costs will ultimately be passed on to the end consumer. Then there is the new service layer that would want its own cut of the pie, so while the cost of transportation will go down, don’t expect it to become virtually free.
Productivity will go up
Today, incredible amount of time and attention is wasted on driving. Simple manual work of turning the steering wheel and pressing the pedal consumes so much of our lives, and to make that unnecessary would be of great benefit to people. While not everyone’s work can be done on the go, those who can will see increased productivity in turning commuting time into work time. Tech companies are already starting to do this in Silicon Valley by offering their employees WiFi enabled shuttles. It may sound depressing to be working while commuting, but the end effect will be people being more productive with their time and spending more time outside of the office/work on leisurely activities.
There will be new exciting business models
Besides leasing and ownership, there aren’t too many different business models for private cars. However, when private transportation service becomes the primary way we travel, different companies will bring forth many different business models trying to cater to people’s various needs and price sensitivities. Some that come to mind: all you can ride (the ideal but expensive), ad supported (advertisements being played in the cabin), variable pricing (more expensive during peak hours). If you think navigating different cellphone plans are confusing…
The real value is the life and time saving
There are roughly 36,000 road fatalities in the US per year, a high but necessary cost of keeping people moving. In 2011, the the average American commuter spent 38 hours in traffic congestion. A 2009 AAA study estimated the societal cost of crashes at $300 billion and congestion at $97.7 billion, both astoundingly large figures. While automated driving won’t decrease these numbers to zero, there will significant reductions as drunk, distracted, tired, and reckless drivers are taken off the road and central algorithms move cars much more smoothly. A fully automated driving system will also require minimal distance between the cars (i.e “Platooning”), allowing for a much more dense usage of the roads.
Some public transportation will remain
Busses will most likely disappear as they become replaced by automated car services (some countries will have a hard time doing this with stringent labor laws and strong unions) but not all existing public transportation will disappear. Within high density cities such as New York, Paris, Tokyo, London, there simply isn’t enough road space for everyone to use automated transportation services during peak hours. The existing metro systems will still thrive as the cheaper alternative for most people while the rich will exclusively use automated car services, just like they do with taxis now.
As for long distance rail, their fate is slightly more uncertain but I believe that they will still provide value as the energy cost of transporting a passenger with a train is much lower than with an automated car. As a result, I do believe that the California High-Speed Rail should still proceed. If anything, automated car may make the system more valuable as people will be able to more easily navigate Los Angeles once they arrive instead of relying on the current miserable public transport system.
Increased usage of land
It is said that 50% of land in L.A. is used for parking lots and roads. While we won’t be able to get rid of the roads, most parking spaces will become unnecessary once automated car services take over. Sure cars will need places to be repaired and maintained but that could be done at the edges of town. As more land become available for new use, expect land values to decrease and articles like “Ten things you can do with your garage now that you don’t need it anymore.”
Suburbia, once the icon of middle class ideal has gotten a bad rap in the previous few decades as cultureless sprawl of oversized homes. Younger generations look to the city for its cultural density and navigability by foot, public transport, and/or bicycles. The pendulum will swing back as suburbia becomes more easily and conveniently traversed by automated car services. Instead of having large cities be the hotbed for cultural activities, many smaller centers each with its unique identity will emerge where people can escape for the evening but easily return to their bigger comfortables homes. Furthermore, as the internet keeps improving the discoverability of niche destinations, automated driving will help the access to these places.
Technologies inevitably change our world and the way we live, and technology as big as automated driving will have a massive impact on our society. While the first order effects maybe obvious, the second order, third order effects will be harder to forecast and there will be countless unintended consequences beyond our imagination. While I believe that automated driving will bring more positives than negatives, many people will lament the new technology destroying “life as we knew it.” The challenge for us isn’t to fight the inevitable progress of technology or blindly follow it but to think about the end results and make adjustments accordingly. What do you think will happen to the world once automated driving proliferates?
The other day I was talking with my teammate about the incredible diversity of players we have on the Frankfurt Ultimate Team, and we started discussing how some players were similar and different. From there, the idea of “Ultimate Frisbee Personality Types” started to organically emerge.
A little background: the “team” I play for, Eintracht Frankfurt, is large, diverse, and much more of a community than just a team. While we have 30-50 “core” players, in the past year, more than 110 people have shown up to at least one practice. From there, we field numerous different teams for both competitive and “fun” tournaments. Many cities with so many players would have broken into few different teams, but Frankfurt sticks together, and this is something I love about our community.
In our discussions about the different players, three main typologies arose:
These are the people that give Ultimate the hippie stereotype, even though it is no longer true. Enamored by the community and the alternativeness of the game, these people not only love the sport but also the lifestyle.
I avoided using the term Jock because of it’s negative connotation, but these are the people who treat Ultimate foremost as a sport and the ones who care more about improvement and winning. As Ultimate becomes more mainstream, I believe it will attract more and more of these kinds of people.
Again avoiding terms like geeks or nerds, these were the kinds of people who joined Ultimate in the initial growth era because it was a sport that involved skills, thinking, tactics, and athleticism while being generally free from the “Jock” culture. These are the people who love the game but aren’t too competitive and love the lifestyle but aren’t too radical.
This of course doesn’t mean that every player has to fit into one of the above personalities. People can be a mix of the different personality types and the better way of thinking about it is the following triangle:
Where do you belong? How does your team fill out the triangle?
I consider myself to be somewhere between Intellectual and Free Spirited while my friend thought I was somewhere between Intellectual and Sportsman.
Our team has players in every single part of the triangle, which I think is what makes our community diverse and great. Talking generalities and not mentioning any names:
- The younger and newer players tended to be more on the right hand side of the triangle
- The casual players were more on the left hand side of the triangle
- This meant that the serious tournaments (like the German championships) are attended by people on the right while the rest play more “fun” tournaments
- The “ambassadors” (people reaching out and attracting other players) were on the upper half of the triangle
- There was a noticeable gap between the Intellectual and Free Spirited
These are of course general observations and there are many exceptions. How does this fit with your experience?
Airport, a place where you do things you’ve been meaning to do, like setting up a cloud backup system
In modern life, besides being on the flight itself, the airport may be the single place where one has the largest chunk of waiting time on a (semi-)regular basis (depending on how often you fly). Besides the DMV (and equivalent government offices), rarely do you have 30-60 minutes of waiting.
Airports of course try to capitalize on this by turning the terminal into a shopping mall full of overpriced goods and souvenirs, but could it go further?
Many people have a large todo lists on which many items go un-ticked for a long time. Most of these are probably not possible in the airport, but how about setting up an online backup service?
I recently had my laptop stolen in Belgium and a friend of mine had her laptop stolen in Australia. Luckily for me, I had both a time machine backup at home in Germany and an cloud backup service set up so data loss was minimal. Unfortunately for my friend, she lost some data with her laptop that will most likely never resurface.
Back up is important, not just from theft but from hard drive failures and accidental coffee spills. I believe awareness is rising and tools are becoming easier to use, but I still have many friends who don’t backup their data.
Back to the airport.
What if online backup services had booths in airports to help people set up their backups? Many people travel with their laptop these days, people who use airports frequently are often business travelers and higher value individuals, and there is very little space requirement, just a standing booth with wireless or wired internet access and a person to help set up the installation. Payment can be done on the spot without the usual clumsy online transaction.
I see the target as professionals who’ve been meaning to set up an online backup system but haven’t had the time to do so. One challenge I imagine, however, is that these people may not be traveling with their own laptops but instead their company laptops and maybe a personal iPad. At that point, there isn’t much that can be done.
(I will pre-swallow the shame pill if this is already happening and I just don’t know about it)