This is only my second time in almost 11 years staying in Germany, my first was last year. These flights usually go exceedingly senior according to our start dates. We land in Frankfurt and stay in a smaller town called Mainz. It is a smaller city than Frankfurt and has a wonderful old style charm in old Mainz. It was home to many roman encampments and thus has many roman ruins in the city area.
My layover started with a quick reacquainting to the town in the form of a quick walk to a grocery store with one of the other flight attendants. My shopping list included chocolate, mustard, and beer. Even though I am not an imbiber, I do love to have a well-stocked bar at home for those who come over. With some help from my German speaking colleague I chose as many bottles as I could manage to carry back to the hotel. I needed the help as last time I purchased beer in a country I didn’t speak the language I accidentally bought non-alcoholic beer, let’s just say that those who drank it were less than thrilled possibly even less than less than thrilled. The store we chose was the chain Rewe, it had a good selection according to my guide and has reasonable prices. There is a deposit on drink bottles, just as those do in my hometown to encourage recycling. The mustard and other sauces are packed in toothpaste like tubes. This and the different flavours from Canadian sauces caused me to buy more than I had anticipated. Who doesn’t need one of every kind of tubed mustard? Now I just have to make sure I don’t accidentally mix the sauce tube up with my toothpaste in my jet lagged state. This time armed with aide I feel I succeeded in my purchases, maybe even too well judging by the overflowing supermarket carrier bags it now possessed. I walked back to the hotel schlepping my goods and wondering how on earth I was going to make it all fit in my company issued luggage. I was going to have to get creative to cram it all in.
I headed back out, solo, as I was on a mission to see as much as I could in the afternoon I had to learn all there is to learn about Mainz and German culture. I can’t sleep when we land. It isn’t for everyone staying up but if I nap two things play against me, one, I am up at 2 AM wondering if I will ever get back to sleep , two, I cant waste a minute of my time to explore. For some it could be very dangerous if you don’t function well on little sleep. Crossing the road could be fatal and your situational awareness may suffer if you aren’t careful as you need to mind where you are and who is around you when travelling alone.
My first stop was to the externally austere St Peter Church (Petruskirche). The real gem is the inside of the Church. A Rococo style house of worship, the church has frescoes and statues the likes of which one can only usually see in art history tomes. I lost my breath at the sight of the paintings and gold leafed statues. The church was quiet despite it’s impressive organ lining the back wall longing to be played and fill every nook and cranny with it’s music. Sometimes when I look at a church like this I have to awe at it’s opulence and wonder what it cost to make, not only in actually dollar amount but in hours spent toiling on the decor and adornments. I am never sure if one is “allowed” to take pictures in a church or if it is considered poor form. I figured since I was alone no one would mind and I wanted to remember seeing the insides of this beautiful building.
I knew I had an end destination in mind for the day but wanted to make the most of my wanderings to my goal. Last time I had been to Mainz, last year, I picked up a walking tours of Mainz book in English from one of the large bookstores for under 10 Euros, roughly $15 Canadian. I was using the book to guide me through the streets while not missing a thing. The next monument I passed was the Jupiter Column and the Arch near the Parliament Buildings. The city of Mainz is the capital of it’s state and thus the capital building of the State is in the city.
Christ Church (Christuskirche) is the second church I visited. The outside was very impressive. The imposing size of the church itself, the wide parcel of land it sits on and the beautiful blossoms of the spring trees are movie caliber. I did not get far inside the church as there was a function going on and I was only able to poke my head in a new looking entry way to discover the church was in use. I continued along the routing of my guide book and passed by the Dom Cathedral, which I had explored last time. I still took tons of pictures in the rain of the fountains and everywhere. The market fountain dates from the early 16th century, truly inspiring to someone who’s country was not discovered for over a hundred years later.
The winding cobblestone streets led me to my destination, the Gutenberg Museum. I know what you are thinking, well at least what my sister is thinking, how did they fill a whole museum with the life of the guy from the three men and a baby movie, Steve Guttenberg? Not the same guy. This museum was dedicated to the life, works and invention of Johannes Gutenberg, considered to be the father of movable type printing presses. The collection boasts 2 Gutenberg Bibles, some of the first books ever printed. It was only 5 Euros to gain entry to the museum and an additional 2.5 euros for the English language audio tour. I had to leave a piece of ID, to be able to walk around with the ipod. I was very glad I coughed up the extra pocket change for the audio guide as not all the signs were in English. It seemed kind of random as to which ones were and were not and it pointed out important books that were printed that I would have otherwise over looked in the extra tour #2. The tour warned that on the hour every hour except 1pm, a printing demo is done in the basement. I made sure to check it out. It was very neat seeing how much work went in to printing a book. The downside was though that the whole spiel was done in German only. Being the only English speaking viewer I just followed along as best as I could. Once again I closed down a museum. I was there for a long time and still have things I did not get to see. Well worth the 8.5 Euros.