"and in between are doors"
“There’s the known and then there’s the unknown, and in between are doors.”
We found this random graffiti on a wall somewhere in the heart of Brussels. It struck me as a perfect description of exploring Europe for the first time, and nearing the end of our trip we have gone through quite a few doors into this unknown world. We have been here for almost a week and today was my first day of truly seeing the city of Frankfort. After waking up to late for breakfast, I jumped on the metro to downtown with a few other students and Professor Dyson, and we managed to arrive at our destination just in time.
The destination was the European Central Bank, the institute in control of the EU’s monetary policy. Here we were given an insightful presentation on the ECB, its branches, and monetary policies by Raphael Anspach (Press Officer). The beginning of the talk laid out a lot of information we had studied in class, but by the end an in-depth discussion was occurring. In particular we explored the differences between the actual and perceived inflation of the Euro, determining that the perceived inflation was much higher than the actual. This was a surprising discovery because of the seemingly high European prices, and a lot of citizens distaste for the Euro as opposed to the D-Mark. After the presentation our group split up and eight of us went to find an authentic German restaurant.
We decided on a place in the Old Town district. This is a few square blocks of old beautiful churches and buildings, and it is filled with great German food. To eat I tried the Jagerschnitzal, a pork chop prepared hunter style. This basically means it is covered in a mushroom gravy, and not surprisingly it was great, especially with a good Czech beer or some homemade apple wine. Now we are simply waiting for the nightlife to start so we can have one more great night in Europe.
Top: Raphael Anspach (Press Office) at the European Center Bank discusses how the bank operates as students take notes. Bottom: Clay, Divash and Ben toast in central Frankfurt.
This morning we had another good breakfast at our hotel. They had a full spread of fruit, meats, cheese, eggs, and juice. Some of us went out and explored the city while some stayed at the hotel, resting until going out around lunch. It was interesting to see new modern buildings and architecture next to old churches, plazas, and classic German buildings. We have had a lot of Kebobs and German Brats from the street vendors to keep us going through the day. This afternoon we visited the European Central Bank. We met outside one of the train stations after exploring the city, so we had to figure the train schedule and destinations out to get there. It helps that people are for the most part very friendly and able to speak English. After a thorough security check we made it up to a large conference room where it looked like the directors of the central bank met. We had some coffee and watched a PowerPoint presentation on the bank and were able to ask a lot of questions. We found out that the bank has representation from over 20 different languages and they have to translate all the bank documents into all of the languages.
After our meeting we were free to explore some more. While walking around it seemed like there was a classic church or cathedral almost every other block. We also walked by the river where some of us had been the previous night checking out the city nightlife. The most interesting place we found was called The Cave which was an underground nightclub which almost seemed like a bomb shelter. For dinner a group of us decided to eat a good meal at a German restaurant. For dinner we had sauerkraut and sausages with potatoes. After that we checked out some more plazas before making our way back to the train station and figuring out how to get back to the hotel. We are going to go out tonight and check out some more of the city life before getting ready for an early morning trip to the airport and a long airplane ride home.
Top: Students at the European Central Bank. Bottom: Jason, Jeana and Micheal in Frankfurt town square.