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Archive for December, 2014

The Best of Frankfurt part III – Shopping/Other

This is the third 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.

Shopping

Best shopping area
Zeil (map), a pedestrian street synonymous with shopping in Frankfurt, is packed with independent retailers, departments stores, and malls. Very lively… a little too much so on sunny Saturday afternoons.

MyZeil

Best (mall) architecture
MyZeil (map) on the Zeil has a fantastic modernist architecture that is worth the visit even if the stores inside are rather standard.

Best suburban mall
You can call it a toss-up, but I prefer NordWestZentrum (map) for it’s slightly bigger size (i.e. variety) and accessibility over Hessen Center (map).

Best Ikea alternative
Ikea in Frankfurt is a trek without a car and it will inevitably make your apartment look like one of their catalog pages. Mömax (map) is a German rip-off of Ikea, equally cheap but tackier and with horrible customer service. While not as big or well stocked, Yellow Möbel (map) is competitive on price and has some interesting offerings.

Best home decor store
Depot is everywhere, but their four-story Zeil location is well stocked with affordable but stylish products. Butlers (city center location) comes in at a close second.

Konstablerwache Market

Best farmer’s market
There are few around town but the Thursday and Saturday market at Konstablerwache (map) is the biggest and most lively. On a sunny day you’ll find many locals chatting over a glass of wine. Not Wednesday or Saturday? No problem, just head to the Kleinmarkthalle (map) nearby. Sunday? You’re screwed.

Other

Best local expat online discussion board
Frankfurt-N-Motion has thousands of members both on its Yahoo Groups mailing list and Facebook group, and most of the other expat groups advertise through there as well. Ignore the MeetUp group, it’s not used anymore.

Jazzkeller

Best music venue
This of course depends on your taste in music, but the Jazzkeller (map) has a fantastically cozy ambiance with a very nice staff. There is cover some evenings. Frankfurt Art Bar has some nice music evenings, but as of writing, they got kicked out and are looking for a new home.

Best running area
While there are few nice parks around town, the river side is by far the best place to go running in Frankfurt with plenty of other people running, biking, roller blading, etc. For a challenge, you could race some of the boats going up or down the river.

Best bridge
Eiserner Steg (map), the pedestrian bridge in the center of town is very lively in the summer with music and tourists. There are also good cafes on either end. The Deutscherrenbrücke (map)  at the end of town is mainly a train bridge with a pedestrian part but it provides a fantastic view of the Frankfurt Skyline, the only one in Germany with Skyscrapers.

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The World According to Nigerians

The World According to Nigerians

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The Best of Frankfurt part II – Restaurants/Bars

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.

Best Tapas restaurant
Frankfurt has a fair number of tapas restaurants and nothing beats Andalucia (map). In fact, I thought about nominating it for the best restaurant.

Kanonesteppel

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Best Brewery
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.

Muku

Best ramen restaurant
Muku (map). There aren’t many, but there are few dedicated restaurants. Don’t get tricked into going to the Chinese or Korean-run Japanese-style ramen restaurant.

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.

Best Mexican restaurant
Don’t expect good Mexican food in Frankfurt (or Germany for that matter), but I like Tacohaus (map) since they try sincerely hard.

Best Irish pub
None. But few contenders catering to the late night desparates with the popcorn Irish experience (O’Reilly’s, Waxy’s, O’Dwyers, Anglo-Irish).

Best kebab
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).

Im Herzen Afrikas

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.

Roomers Bar

Best bar ambiance
The bar at the super hip hotel, Roomers (map), is unbelievably bizarre and worth a visit once in a lifetime even with overpriced cocktails.

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.

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Startups and bands

ws

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.

How true.

  • 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

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The Best of Frankfurt part I – Activities

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.

Zeil Galerie mini golf

Best random activity
Indoor mini golf at the Zeil Galerie (map), a rather surreal experience. One of the holes required us to shoot through the receptionist eating pizza in front of a TV.

Best view
Main Tower (map). The highest point in Frankfurt that is open to the public, albeit you have to pay. For free, checkout the observation point at Zeil Galerie.

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.

Stitched Panorama

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.

Apple Wine Tram

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.

Beer Bike

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.

Best Karaoke
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.

Paternoster

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.

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The Alternate Spirit of the Game Score Sheet

(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:

  1. Rules Knowledge and Use
  2. Fouls and Body Contact
  3. Fair-Mindedness
  4. Positive Attitude and Self-Control
  5. Communication

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.

Alternate SOTG Scoresheet

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.

English: The Alternate Spirit of the Game Score Sheet (EN v1) (Illustrator File)

German: Der etwas andere Spirit of the Game Score-Zettel (DE v1) (Illustrator File)

Brazilian Portuguese: A Planilha de Espírito de Jogo Alternativa (PT-BR v1)  (Illustrator File)

Spanish: La planilla alternativa de Espíritu de Juego (ES v1) (Illustrator File)

Croatian: Malo drugačiji Spirit of the Game Score Sheet (HR v1) (Illustrator File)

Polish: Alternatywny formularz Spirit of the Game bZ (PL v1)

“Local” Uruguayan version used at Torneo Orilla organized by Ultimate Frisbee UruguayOrilla spirit

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 sushisuzuki@gmail.com. I will then lay it out and include it here.

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