What Happens When Germans Protest?

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A few weekends ago it was pretty hard to get into town. I live near the main station, and the Frankfurt based protest group Blockupy were having a camp weekend over on the grass and the whole area from the top of Kaiserstraße to the start of the highstreet was closed off. Not only that but the train stops and trams in the area were also not in use. It was a little annoying, but it’s starting to become normal here now.

I guess I shouldn’t have been so surprised that people here protest so much. German people have a very strong sense of what is right and what is wrong, and what’s more, they want to make everything right. Japanese people know in their heads what is right and what is wrong but they don’t dare say out loud when they think something isn’t ok. British people know what’s right and what’s wrong but unless it’s affecting them personally, you won’t find them springing to action.

I have no idea how many protests there have been since I came to Frankfurt…and of course there are many more in the summer months. All protests need to be approved (which is why the bike ‘protest’ Critical Mass isn’t advertised as such – it’s not approved) and so for the first year that I was here, most of the protests consisted of a few people protesting and 100s of police guarding them.

Then came Blockupy. They set up camp under the big euro sign of the European Central Bank and stayed there throughout the bitterly cold winter until they were kicked off last Autumn. They are still very active and do fight for lots of causes, and at the camp the other week they focused on educating people about those causes. There were a few other scuffles that they had that were perhaps not as nice, but made it into Buzzfeed so that’s good publicity for them I guess.

The above photo was from the following week – they had one more protest march against how the police treated them during the camp weekend. I was trying to figure out what they were protesting at first but there seemed to be quite a few areas covered in the one march – German efficiency!

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When Blockupy have things going on it is quite a pain because it’s hard to get around and stuff but I guess that’s the point. I don’t really agree with the violence or the extremes that they go to but I think it’s great that so many people care about this kind of thing here.

Spring in Frankfurt!

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Spring is a good time in Frankfurt. The dark days of winter are finally over and the Germans start to very VERY VERY excited about things. One of the things they like to get excited about is spargel – asparagus. You would not believe how excited these white sticks make the locals…

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This was the area outside department store Galeria this morning – a man on a mic, lots of official veggie people, SO many people crowding round to get their hands on asparagus… and a bored sound man eating a sausage sandwich.

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But this is what we came for – the green sauce festival! Green sauce is a big thing here in Frankfurt and so we wanted to check out the festival dedicated to this herby, eggy sauce.

There is a closed off section that I think wasn’t open when we went. There are a handful of stalls outside, though, with 3 different green sauces to try with eggs, potatoes and sausages. Sushi circle have some special green sauce themed sushi variaties (none of which are vegetarian friendly) so there are a few things to check out there!

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Our potatoes, eggs and sauce was so yummy we forgot to take a photo before we dug in! The sauce was pretty sweet and creamy. I much prefer it when it’s chunky and herby but it was still very yummy! The festival is lasting through to next weekend so check it out at the Roßmarkt in Frankfurt!

Critical Mass Bike Ride

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One sunny Sunday my flatmates told me there’s a big bike ride happening in Frankfurt, and would I like to join? I love bike rides so I said I’d join up with them after my Japanese – English meetup. I’m so glad I did.

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You see, this wasn’t just any bike ride, this was a Critical-Mass bike ride. Critical-Mass are a group who like cyclists’ rights, and according to German law, when there are lots of bikes together on the road, they can forget the crappy bike paths occasionally laid out for us and act like a car. One massive car. That is made up of 100 cyclists.

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The seasoned members (for there is no leader – otherwise that would be a protest and the police wouldn’t be happy) do their best at blocking cars when we get to junctions so that everyone can pass through without being mowed down. I saw some pretty hardcore moves by them, often milimetres away from crashes.

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But what is it like cycling normally in Frankfurt? Well, it’s ok. I’ve seen worse. But it’s certainly not an ideal situation. Where I live on Kaiserstraße I can get into the centre of town on a nice bike path leading me right there. But at other parts of town you have the choice of joining the scary, honky traffic or being a nuisance to the pedestrians and biking on the path. One part in particular, around the Metropolis cinema, is my worst nightmare. There are bike paths in certain places here too, but none of them seem like safe routes to take.

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So this bike ride was really amazing for me – to be able to bike along the roads freely without worrying about cars getting aggressive is a real treat.

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And the best part? It happens every month! Twice a month, in fact! You can join this bike ride from Alte Opera on the 1st Sunday of each month, from 2pm. And again they have another one the following Friday.

For information about Critical-Mass, check out this link, which is in German.

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