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Gay Frankfurt: Meet Me in Mainhattan



©Tourismus+Congress GmbH Frankfurt am Main

Once upon a time, if you were an international traveler, but you weren't in the financial industry, Frankfurt and its massive airport (the third largest in Europe) were often just a stopover point on the way to somewhere else.

But in recent years, there's been a dramatic shift: Frankfurt has blossomed into a major destination in its own right. Germany's fifth largest city has hyper-charged its cultural and shopping offerings, and meanwhile tourists have realized that they can experience said excellent offerings by whisking from the airport to downtown in less than 15 minutes, for less than $5.

For gay visitors, the city offers even more convenience, with its condensed area of LGBT bars and clubs, the so-called "Bermuda Triangle" (bordered by Konstablerwache, Bleichstrasse and Eschenheimer Turm) located right at the heart of town. Every shade of gay and lesbian is well represented here in this compact cluster, from mainstream homo to indie queer. Frankfurt's Pride (or CSD, as it's called here, short for Christopher Street Day) happens every July, with a plucky Saturday parade and a huge street fair lasting the entire weekend.

Frankfurt is a city of many nicknames. Its array of powerful global financial entities (including the European Central Bank) earned it the moniker "Bankfurt." The gleaming towers built by those companies gave the city a unique-in-Germany skyscraper-y skyline, which, along with its setting on the Main River, gave way to the handle "Mainhattan." Locals often refer to the city (especially in writing) as "FFM," the abbreviation for its official name, Frankfurt am Main.

Frankfurt is also sometimes called the "City of Museums" -- and it's true that the town is literally teeming with them, from the incredible (and incredibly diverse) Stadel, to the excellent Museum of Modern Art, to the completely unique Dialog Museum (where visitors are led around in the dark by a blind guide). Shoppers love the city too, with its several shopping streets highlighted by the famous pedestrianized Zeil.

Culinarily, Frankfurt delights in regional specialties, especially the Frankfurter Rindswurst (the granddad of the modern American frankfurter) and Hessian Gruene Sosse, or green sauce. Locals love to pour the stuff over potatoes and meat -- and, with its unique blend of several herbs and spices, it's actually far tastier than it looks. Everything is best washed down with Apfelwein (local apple wine).

Getting to Frankfurt is of course a breeze, with the airport serving a staggering 207 destinations in 111 countries. And when you're finished experiencing the city itself, Frankfurt makes an excellent jumping off point for exploring the rest of Germany (and beyond) via the German rail system, Deutsche Bahn: Cologne is just over an hour away, while Berlin, Hamburg, Munch, Amsterdam, Paris, Brussels, and Zurich are all reachable by train in under four hours. For travel within Germany, Deutsche Bahn rail passes start at just 183 euros (about $225) for any three days of travel within a month. For more info, see www.bahn.de/i/view/DEU/en/prices/germany/germanrailpass.shtml

To find out more about visiting Frankfurt, visit www.frankfurt-tourismus.de/cms/tourismussuite/en/home.html