The lockdown is getting on my nerves, like probably all of you. I just miss the normal everyday life, the meetings with friends, the cultural life and the possibilities to go out for a delicious meal somewhere in the city. But that will all come back and until then, a little creativity is needed to escape from the lockdown every now and then and to get other thoughts. In doing so, I came across a topic that a friend of mine had suggested to me more than a year ago: Geocaching! This kind of scavenger hunt has not really appealed to me so far, but the idea to discover Frankfurt in this way I found very appealing, not only in view of the fact that the ceiling falls on my head at home.
I claim that I know Frankfurt quite well. I grew up here, have already lived in different parts of the city and got to know many exciting places while working for Frankfurt-Tipp. Nevertheless, I know that I still don't know everything about the city and that there are still some surprises hidden in places that I have passed by a thousand times. And that's what makes geocaching in (and around) Frankfurt so exciting. But more on that later - before I set off in search of caches in the city itself, I first have to familiarize myself a bit with the concept, of course, and find out how this modern scavenger hunt actually works.
Tricky puzzles and real treasures
On the site https://www.geocaching.com/ I found everything I needed to know for my first trip. Registration, which requires only a username and password, is done in a flash (at least if you only select the Basic level to begin with, which is perfectly adequate for starters. The upgrade to Premium level unlocks many more caches and functions, but is not free of charge). Then read the introductory info, downloaded the app and you're ready to go.
My first test run starts with the support of an experienced geocacher on a gloomy January Sunday in a patch of forest near Frankfurt Airport. We chose this place because we can reach it quickly by bike and because the cache is relatively easy to find in terms of its size. And indeed: With the help of the GPS signal and attentive searching we found it after only a few minutes. In the box we found a log book and many small treasures in the form of figures and even a cap. Of course, we have also left a small souvenir in the box, about which perhaps the next finder is happy.
So, after this test I am prepared for the geocaching tour through the city. We start with a multi-cache: to find the way to the "Final", it is necessary to solve puzzles at various stations, from which the coordinates are then derived. This scavenger hunt leads us to a place I already visited for an other blog entry a few weeks ago: A brightly painted house front on Bleach Street. The mural is the last stop of the multi-cache. Luckily, I had the pro at my side again, who solved the puzzles with a trained eye, figured out the right coordinates and thus led us to the right place. After this successful debut I tasted blood and therefore we set off to find a few more caches in the city centre.
Reviewing familiar places
.What fascinates me after further stops like the Römer, the Kleinmarkthalle (where we are to take photos for a later "Found-Log") or the Old Bridge, is the fact that you also have to look at places that are actually very well known to you with completely different eyes. Because often it's not about the big picture, but about the smallest details. You have to look at the places very closely, take a different perspective in order to find the caches. Especially when it comes to finding a nano or micro cache, taking special photos or solving a riddle, you have to say goodbye to the usual ways of looking at things. It is also important to remain as inconspicuous as possible - both when searching and when returning the caches you have found. Because geocache hiding places should of course remain secret, so that the caches are not taken or broken.
I was also convinced by the fact that you can go on completely different tours. You can search for caches in the streets of the city and at well-known places as well as in parks or in the city forest. Geocaching is therefore suitable for a city walk as well as for a tour into the countryside. You can search for caches alone, in pairs or - if that is possible again - in larger groups. You can search for traditional caches or solve riddles and mysteries. In short: With Geocaching you can discover the many different facets of Frankfurt in a completely different way. A nice pastime that brings a little variety into the next lockdown walk.
What you need:
Of course, a GPS receiver is very important. You can also take your smartphone or tablet. For longer, more challenging tours, however, special GPS devices are recommended - if only because of the battery life.
You will also need the geocaching app (more info on this can be found at: https://www.geocaching.com/)
And then, of course, you need a sharp eye and good powers of deduction.
Give it a try! Have fun!
A contribution by Sebastian Betzold