It's gorgeous day in Frankfurt, where the banking blog has set up camp this week.
I went for a long walk this morning and the most glaring difference is simply size: Frankfurt is tiny! With about 700,000 inhabitants, it's a tenth of the size of London, and the place feels very much like a provincial university town with skyscrapers. In the central Opera Platz, opposite an office tower for the Swiss bank UBS, a notice was posted on a wall: "Family of theologians with two daughters looking for 4-room apartment, maximum €1,400 a month … a garden would be wunderbar." It's hard to imagine such a thing in London, where vastness has bred anonymity, and four-room apartments with a garden go for the equivalent of €1,400 a week.
In one way, Frankfurt is like any European city of its size, with a beautiful old train station as its downtown anchor. Walking into town you get the customary sex shops ("hot women and cold drinks"), cheap fast-food joints and Starbucks ("celebrating 10 years in Germany"). But as you walk on, Frankfurt ("Bankfurt" for some) quickly begins to feel like Dubai or some car-based city in the US. You find yourself on wide thoroughfares with two or three car lanes in each direction, plus a tram in between. Dotted on all that asphalt are the shiny buildings for Deutsche Bank, PricewaterhouseCoopers and other players in the global game of finance. (A lovely detail: they allow grass to grow in between the tram tracks, which gives off a pleasant early morning smell.)
In the coming days I hope to speak to lots of people here, both bankers and "ordinary" Frankfurters, which is where you may come in. Are you working in finance in Frankfurt? Have you worked there in the past, and are you now in London? Please share your experiences and help us build a picture of how it works in Germany's main financial centre.
You can use the comment section below or write to me directly on email@example.com – anonymity guaranteed – or on Twitter @jlbankingblog. If you're in Frankfurt now, why don't you let the Guardian buy you ein kaffee oder Pilsner? And don't worry, after more than a year of interviewing bankers and people in finance in London I have become quite adept at hiding your identity.
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