When I moved to Germany, I made a short list of events that I definitely should attend: the Berlin Film Festival (done, went at least twice), the ITB (almost every year) and the Frankfurt Book Fair. As I moved somewhere in April, in the first two festivals are in the first 3 months of the year, I began my fair adventure with Frankfurt.
I went regularly to the Frankfurt Airport before, and I had boring memories of waiting for long hours in the front of a lonely terminal. A completely different Frankfurt was waiting for me. After months of hip and alternative Berlin, I was surprised to feel like transported in the middle of a little corner of corporate New York. The center of the city destroyed during the war have been replaced with bold metal and glass buildings and skyscrapers. Frankfurt is after all, the financial beating heart of Europe. For more than one hour, I walked the center around the European Central Bank, the only institution that I did not see during my European bureaucratic adventures, exploring the view and looking up in the sky.
Despite the serious businesses going on, Frankfurt (am Main, as it is another one, am Oder, in the Eastern part of Germany) was not affected by the gentrification and has a very lively young population, enjoying the colourful and alternative coffees, clubs and art and fashion happenings. People have money and want to have a good life. As my 2-day visit was exclusively dedicated to the bookfair and I was accommodated relatively far away from the center, in the classical Nordend quarter, I did not have too much time for a careful exploration. I went to the Rossmarkt and the Eiserner Steg (Iron Bridge), had a look at the old building of the Opera, went to the Jewish Museum and promised myself to be back to visit the Museum of Architecture.
During my Fair trip, the hotels were full and streets busy, and with a little bit of attention you can spot many favourite writers. I saw, for instance, the Nobel Prize winner Herta Müller smoking in the front of a luxury hotel together with other literati friends, and met another 2 authors whose books I knew on the subway.
In every travel planning, it is a pint of dream hiding. On my way to Frankfurt with the ICE, I was dreaming about returning with a luggage full of shortly released books, in many languages, the newest titles that I will be able to read and eventually review before anyone else was reading them. The bigger was my disappointment when after asking at 2 big pavilions, one of them Hachette, I was told that the books presented there are not for sale, but for literary agents and translators. Well, I am a kind of translator myself, but this does not give me any right to buy the books there. I ended up with a big tour of all the pavilions and countries and a luggage full of leaflets. I deeply feel my inadequacy, but after all, I have been in the world of books, at the fair continuously held since 1485, shortly after the discovery of the print press by Gutenberg.