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Fitness guru Jess Schuring’s wellness guide to Frankfurt

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This article is part of FT Globetrotter’s guide to Frankfurt

Though I have now settled in London, as a native German I visit my home country often, in normal times. My father lives on the outskirts of Frankfurt, a city I love to head to for a relaxing, fun and dynamic break.

Sure, Frankfurt may not be a great global metropolis — and it has an undeserved reputation for being, well, a bit boring — but life in the German financial capital is pretty incredible.

There is so much on offer at all times in Frankfurt. Our needs or wants are often at our fingertips. But as in all cities, this can also be overwhelming — zapping energy, focus and resilience. Every so often we need to take a step back, recharge our batteries and remind ourselves that we are human after all. 

Here I’ve shared five bliss tips for escaping the noise of the city, restoring your wellbeing and finding some peace in the heart of all the action.

PalmenGarten 

Siesmayerstraße 63, 60323 Frankfurt aM main

Frankfurt’s PalmenGarten celebrates its 150th anniversary this year
Frankfurt’s PalmenGarten celebrates its 150th anniversary this year © Frankfurt Tourist+Congress Board/Holger Ullmann

‘One of my favourite pieces of architecture in the world’: the garden’s Palm House
‘One of my favourite pieces of architecture in the world’: the garden’s Palm House © Mauritius Images/Alamy

An oasis in the middle of the city, the PalmenGarten, one of three botanical gardens in Frankfurt, is a colourful haven and home to some of the most beautiful and exotic plants in the world. I love getting lost in these heavenly gardens and being surrounded by the healing power of nature, bringing a sense of relaxation, regeneration and inspiration. It is said that “a walk in nature walks the soul back home” and I couldn’t agree more. The Palm House is one of my favourite pieces of architecture in the world and worth every visit. The gardens also host regular events and concerts — blending plants, life and culture with urban life in a very cool way. (Website; Directions)

Villa Kennedy Spa

Kennedyallee 70, 60596 Frankfurt am Main

The pool in Villa Kennedy’s spa
The pool in Villa Kennedy’s spa . . . 

. . . looks out onto a luscious garden
 . . . looks out on to a luscious garden © Adrian Houston

Whenever time allows, I try to make a trip to the spa at Villa Kennedy, a small, upmarket hotel that is popular with the city’s business crowd. Thanks to its well-curated range of therapies and treatments, you will leave feeling relaxed and rejuvenated — the perfect antidote to bustling city life. An ideal afternoon is spent resting by the pool and sauna, followed by a “surrender” massage (a Swedish technique that brings a deep sense of relaxation and energy). Looking through the large glass windows into the dreamy internal gardens, you forget for a moment you’re in the heart of the city. (Website; Directions)

A long walk along the river at blue hour

Sunset on the River Main
Sunset on the River Main © Horacio Villalobos/Corbis via Getty Images

Just a short walk from the river bank you will find Michelin-starred dining at Seven Swans. © Simon Bolz

There is something so beautiful about a sunset over a big city, allowing for a moment of calm to open the heart and reflect on the day that has passed. Frankfurt is a very walkable city, and the river promenade is a wonderful way to explore and admire its stunning architecture.

If you’d rather float than walk, hop on a river boat for a more laid-back experience. As the River Main runs through the centre of Frankfurt, you can end the walk with dinner or drinks in the city. Seven Swans is one of my favourite restaurants, just a short walk from the river bank. One of Germany’s three vegetarian restaurants with Michelin stars, this hidden gem is considered among the best eateries in the world.

Dialog Museum 

An der Hauptwache, B-Ebene, Passage 10, 60313 Frankfurt am Main

The entrance to the Dialog Museum’s ‘Dialogue in the Dark’ exhibition
The entrance to the Dialog Museum’s ‘Dialogue in the Dark’ exhibition . . . 

. . . which Schuring describes as a ‘life-changing’ experience
. . . which Schuring describes as a ‘life-changing’ experience © Mara Monetti (2)

Visiting the Dialog Museum (which reopens on 9 September) for the first time was a life-changing experience for me. The main exhibition, Dialogue in the Dark, engages all of your senses, touches your heart and enables you to discover the invisible. You are led by blind or visually impaired guides through a lightless course with changing themed rooms. It is truly humbling and a reminder of the magic of the human body. The concept was first developed in Frankfurt am Main 30 years ago. (Website; Directions)

Römerberg

Römerberg 26, 60311 Frankfurt am Main

Römerberg was destroyed by two bombings in 1944 and rebuilt in recent decades with traditional half-timbered buildings © Ralf Hettler/Getty Images/iStockphoto

St Paul’s Church is well worth a visit, particularly during winter when the traditional German Christmas market is on © Eden Breitz/Alamy

If you’re looking for some cultural stimulation within the city, then this historic cobbled square in the old town is the perfect place. It’s been a hub of Frankfurt life since the early Middle Ages and a venue for the city’s most important events. It was completely destroyed by two bombing raids in the second world war, but has been rebuilt over the last few decades, according to original plans, with traditional half-timbered buildings.

If you’re ever visiting Frankfurt during the winter, I would highly recommend visiting the Christmas fair at Römerberg for its picturesque festive scene. For the more historically inquisitive, Old Nikolai Church, St. Paul’s Church and the medieval Römer building are definitely worth a visit.

How do you like to unwind in Frankfurt? Tell us in the comments

For more stories like this, visit ft.com/globetrotter, check out our guide to Frankfurt, and follow FT Globetrotter on Instagram at @FTGlobetrotter

Jess Schuring is a globally renowned pilates teacher and the founder of Heartcore, which has eight studios in London and an at-home platform





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End of an era as Lionel Messi and FC Barcelona part company

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Lionel Messi updates

Barcelona football club said on Thursday that Lionel Messi, widely regarded as one of the greatest of all players, is leaving because of “financial and structural obstacles” that it blamed on financial regulations imposed by La Liga, which runs the top two divisions in Spain, requiring the team to rein in its spending.

Messi, the frontman of FC Barcelona’s success for more than a decade, will be leaving a club where he has spent the entirety of his career, winning every leading trophy and personal accolade.

Messi and Barcelona had intended to sign a new contract on Thursday but ultimately the player and club were forced to separate, said Barcelona in a statement, adding that both sides “deeply regret” their split. La Liga declined to comment.

“Despite FC Barcelona and Lionel Messi having reached an agreement and the clear intention of both parties to sign a new contract today, this cannot happen because of financial and structural obstacles (Spanish Liga regulations),” Barcelona said. “As a result of this situation, Messi shall not be staying on at FC Barcelona. Both parties deeply regret that the wishes of the player and the club will ultimately not be fulfilled.”

Messi’s exit comes as Barcelona and rivals Real Madrid are at loggerheads with La Liga over the Spanish league’s plan to partner with private equity firm CVC Capital Partners, which plans to invest €2.7bn in the league, subject to clubs’ approval.

The exit of the superstar Argentina international, who earned a total of more than €555m between 2017 and 2021, according to Spanish newspaper El Mundo, underlines the financial pressures at Barcelona.

The Catalan club sunk to a net loss of almost €100m in the 2019-20 season, the first to be disrupted by the pandemic, as revenues of €855m fell short of the €1bn set in its budget. Its debt has soared north of €1bn. In June, the club approved a €525m debt refinancing.

On the pitch, Barca finished third in La Liga, its worst showing since 2008. It has not won the Uefa Champions League, Europe’s most prestigious club tournament, since 2015.

The decision comes just days after Barca president Joan Laporta said the club “have to make sure” Messi stays and that the process was “on the right track”. The president had also called for “greater flexibility” from La Liga.

Despite the long affiliation between Messi and Barcelona, the player last year told the club he wanted to leave but ultimately decided to stay on to avoid a legal dispute.

Messi’s departure comes a day after La Liga agreed a €2.7bn deal with US private equity group CVC Capital Partners to buy a minority stake in a new entity that would manage broadcast, sponsorship and digital rights for the league.

Barcelona and arch-rivals Real Madrid, which have been embroiled in a dispute with La Liga over plans for a breakaway European Super League, would stand to receive about €260m each from the deal with CVC.

The transaction was partly seen as a way to win over the support of Barcelona, which has been financially constrained by La Liga’s rules from making any high-profile acquisitions or renewal of contracts.

Real Madrid also lashed out at the CVC deal with CVC on Thursday, questioning its legality and accusing the Spanish league of negotiating the agreement without the club’s knowledge.

Barcelona followed up later on Thursday by joining Real in condemning La Liga’s planned partnership with the buyout firm. The club said: “FC Barcelona feels it is inappropriate to sign a half-century agreement given the uncertainties that always surround the football world. The terms of the contract that La Liga is describing condemn FC Barcelona’s future with regard to broadcasting rights.

“FC Barcelona wishes to express its surprise at an agreement driven by La Liga in which the teams’ opinions, including those of FC Barcelona, have not been taken into account.”

Spanish football clubs have yet to vote on the CVC agreement. Italy’s top football league, Serie A, turned down a similar agreement a few months ago.



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Europe targets adolescents for Covid jabs to curb Delta spread

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Covid-19 vaccines updates

French President Emmanuel Macron, whose habitual garb in public is a dark suit and tie, switched this week to a black T-shirt to encourage the young to get vaccinated over the holidays. 

“Many of you have questions or are scared,” Macron said in one of several videos he posted on TikTok and Instagram from what seemed to be the presidential holiday residence in southern France. “So I’ve decided to answer your questions directly. Go ahead.”

He has also posted short videos to correct misconceptions about the vaccines and France’s supposedly “freedom-killing” insistence on health passports to access bars and other public places. “Vaccination saves lives, the virus kills — it’s as simple as that,” he said in one. 

Macron may be one of the EU’s more visible leaders to urge the young to be jabbed, but he is not alone. 

On Wednesday, the UK belatedly extended its Covid-19 vaccination programme to 16- and 17-year-olds. But across continental Europe, governments from Scandinavia to the Mediterranean have already been targeting as yet unvaccinated teenagers to fight rising infections and hospitalisations driven by the highly infectious Delta variant of the virus.

This vaccination drive, which anticipates the new school term starting in September, is partly why Europe has already overtaken the US in terms of vaccination rates per 100 people and, on current projections, will soon overtake the UK too.

In France, health ministry data show that more than 40 per cent of those aged between 12 and 17 have already received one jab, and nearly 20 per cent are fully vaccinated. (In the vulnerable age group between 70 and 80, full vaccination coverage is close to 90 per cent.) 

Chart showing that Europe and the US have already vaccinated millions of teens, leaving the UK far behind

Most Nordic countries have also started to vaccinate teenagers and, by the end of July, almost one-third of 12-15 year-olds in Denmark had received at least one jab. “We need the immunity of the population, especially before a winter season,” Soren Brostrom, head of the Danish health authority, said in June when announcing the decision.

Much the same is true in Germany, where more than 900,000 adolescents or 21 per cent of those aged between 12 and 17, have received at least one jab, and more than 10 per cent are fully vaccinated. 

Individual German parents and children already have had the legal right to get vaccinated since June, and several states had begun limited offerings of the jabs to 12-17-year-olds.

But health minister Jens Spahn announced on Monday plans to offer more jabs to youngsters before school begins. “This is absolutely not about applying pressure,” he said on RBB radio. “It is about giving those who want to be vaccinated, including children and adolescents, the opportunity.”

The next step in Europe will be to vaccinate young children, especially as Delta strain infections seem to be rising fastest among the unvaccinated young. In a recent UK study, almost a third of the positive Delta variant tests came from people aged 5 to 17.

“It’s clear that children under 12 will become the main reservoir of infections once a large share of the over-12 population is vaccinated,” said Antoine Flahault, director of the Institute of Global Health at the University of Geneva. 

“It seems reasonable today to suppose that we’ll only be able to finish with this pandemic by vaccinating a very large share of the population, perhaps 90-95 per cent, by including children,” he said, noting that the jabs would have to be supplemented by other measures such as continued border controls as well.

In Spain, which has already overtaken the UK and the US in vaccinating its population, the government says its inoculation drive must now focus on younger people. 

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has declared that the country, where 59 per cent are fully vaccinated, deserves “the gold medal for vaccinations”. This week he said the country was on course to fully vaccinate 70 per cent of its population before the end of August.

But officials increasingly recognise that will not be enough to provide “herd immunity”. Infection rates in Spain — now in its fifth coronavirus wave — remain extremely high, with cases particularly prevalent among people in the 12-19 and 20-29 age groups; in the former, the full vaccination rate is less than 4 per cent.

High infection rates among these groups — with a 14-day rate of above 1,300 per 100,000 people — have spilled over to older groups. The 14-day rate among the over-eighties has been close to 300, even though according to official figures that age group is 100 per cent vaccinated.

“What is happening in Spain shows quite simply that the vaccinations do not have the same efficiency that was indicated in the trials . . . It is going to be more difficult to reach herd immunity,” said Rafael Bengoa, a former Basque region minister for health and director at the World Health Organization. 

He said the Delta variant — now accounting for more than 75 per cent of Spanish cases — was a key factor blunting vaccines’ impact and argued that the necessary level of protection would now probably require full vaccination for closer to 90 per cent of the overall population.

“We are only going to achieve this when we have revaccinated older people who are losing protection relatively quickly and when we have vaccinated young people and children,” he said. “The end is further away than we predicted.”

Additional reporting by Richard Milne in Oslo





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Global house prices: Raising the roof

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Global house prices: Raising the roof



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