European Travelogue – Mainz, Germany

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Rhine River

The Rhine

Frankfurt/Mainz is one of the great industrial cities of the world with Frankfurt being the new industrial centre and Mainz having the historical buildings and streets. Both Frankfurt and Mainz (map) are cities built along the banks of the Rhine River. This river is the major river in this part of Germany, running from its source in Lake Constance for over 1000km to the North Sea.

Getting There

Frankfurt has one of the biggest airports in Europe and as such, you can get a flight from anywhere to Frankfurt. The airport averages about 100 flight arrivals per hour – indeed a busy place. I flew from Vilnius to Frankfurt with Lufthansa (a 2 hour flight) where I was to meet up with three friends, (Lord FlashArse, John Van HouseBrekker and Philme Upbar-Tender) to start the ‘Bastards R Us’ tour of Central Europe.

I got into the Non-EU passport holder queue and got my passport stamped by a jolly German border guard.

He asked me “What are you going to do in Germany?”

I said “I’m here to drink all your beer at Oktoberfest.” He had a chortle and waved me through.

I got my bag and made my way to the arrivals area, where Lord FlashArse and John Van Housebrekker were waiting to escort me to the car, driven by Philme

Upbar-Tender. We sort of navigated our way to the Hotel.

Where to Stay

We stayed at the Tulip Inn, which is right opposite Sud-Bahnhof. The hotel was OK, although a little expensive. It is close to the centre of Mainz, the supermarket and of course the train station.

Eating Out

Mainz has lot’s of cafe’s and takeaway places, although we found restaurants a little scarce. One eatery did stand out from the others and it is called “Little Italy”. A great pizza place with an Aussie twirling the dough. We ate there quite a few times and every pizza tasted great, especially when

washed down with a few litres of Beck’s beer. I recommend you stop by and say G’day.

There are also plenty of bakeries in and around Mainz. Germans love their bread and after tasting some of their pastries, it is easy to see why. I thought that these places were great to grab a coffee and a sticky bun, although there aren’t a lot of them that offer sit down tables. Most of our bakery dining was take away. It still tasted great though, and I recommend them for a breakfast on the run.

Handy Stuff

The laundromat is about 2 blocks east of the bahnhofplatz. It will cost you 7DM for a washer and 2DM for a drier (30min). It is a great place to talk to other travellers who have nothing to do but look at their clothes spinning around for half and hour. There are plenty of bakeries (and the pub is 1 block down the road). Pubs are on nearly every block and supermarkets are also plentiful. For those interested in books, Mainz offers a variety of bookshops and some antique sellers that have old prints etc.

Internet

We had a bugger of a time trying to find an internet cafe. The desk clerk at our hotel didn’t have a clue and we ended up asking a girl at the local video arcade. She pointed us in the right direction.

To get there, go and find Burger King in the city centre and go directly across the street. There is a cafe that does internet as well as software sales. It’s a small but easily accessible place and the cost is fairly reasonable (for the West) at about DM6 per half hour.

The Rhine

Rhine Castle

Castle on the Rhine

We drove to a town called Bingen along the Rhine, where we met up with a business associate of Lord FlashArse. He showed us around the banks of the Rhine. There are more than 30 castles to be visited, although we only found time for a few. The two we visited offered great views of the river and an insight into the history of this river and the trading vessels it supports.

I would suspect that to investigate all the towns and castles along the Rhine from Koblenz “German Corner” to Mainz would take at least a week, probably two, but it would be well worth it. We only managed a day to drive along and make a few stops. I have some further information of this area available on request here.

Museums

Lord FlashArse convinced me to accompany him to the Gutenberg Museum at Liebfrauenplatz 5 in Mainz. The world’s first printed bible is on display there, as well as many other biblical works all printed. A huge cathedral still stands there, although most of the roof and some of the walls were destroyed by Allied bombing during the Second World War. There are also lots of curio and souvenir shops all selling Gutenberg related stuff from T-shirts to original prints. I came away from the museum with an enlightened view on printed religious literature.

Summary

Mainz is a funny sort of place that is out of the way, but at the same time, it has it’s own identity and character that makes it uniquely German. It is close to the tourist spots along the Rhine and also close to Frankfurt and it’s major airport. A great place to lay up for a few days to get over the jet lag, but do yourself a favour and allow some time to see the towns along the Rhine up to Koblenz and back, they are great!

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