Today I just walked around the city about 7 hours, and stopped in a few museums. Oddly, Mainz is like Sacramento in this way: not the most exciting place to visit, but very livable. We started here only because of Dan’s conference (which he is at again today and tomorrow). That said, it is very charming, lots of it very old. The cathedral here is over 1000 years old. The areas I was in were pretty, clean, with a wide variety of shops and restaurants. Very pedestrian and bike friendly.
This is the back of the cathedral as you approach the Square from a busy street.
This is the front of the cathedral getting a facelift. If you were 1000 years old you would need some work, too!
This was first of many town squares I would see in Europe – cute shopping and entertainment areas closed off to vehicles.
I checked out 3 museums. I generally subscribe to the “a little goes a long way” school of museum looking and tend to do drive-bys more than anything. And in this case, it’s easy to go very fast when so little of it was in English! So 3 museums in about 3 hours is about right. (When I was in NYC with Jon, who shares my museum philosophy, we cruised through all 7 floors of MOMA in about 90 minutes!)
- Museum of Ancient Ships. A last minute addition on the advice of TripAdvisor, and was the most interesting of the three. Ruins of ships from the Roman Empire were found in the Rhine when they were building the Hilton (where we are staying). The remains were recovered, replicas were built, and the museum was focused on all that and the history of the shipping trade at the time.
- Guttenberg Museum – as in printing press. Mainz was his home. Mostly this was about the history of print, along with some local history which I appreciated the most.
- Landesmuseum – typical mix of Dutch old masters, ancient stuff, modern stuff, blah blah blah. Crocker is better :)
This is the Guttenberg, essentially right across from the cathedral.
Below are some cute buildings across a nice little park, and a pretty church, which I learned as the trip progressed are everywhere. This one is young by Europe standards, built in 1896.
Today’s general observations:
- Bicycle lanes are on the sidewalks, not the streets. Bicyclists follow pedestrian rules, not vehicle rules.
- And speaking of pedestrian rules: people don’t jaywalk or cross if the signal is red even when there’s no traffic in sight and would be perfectly safe. It’s bizarre.
- Lots of smokers here. Actually I noticed that right as I left the train station yesterday. Today just confirmed it wasn’t a fluke. On the other hand, I’ve seen very little if any obesity, certainly nothing like we have in the US. I guess everyone has their vices.
- Sirens of emergency vehicles: I have only heard a few times, but each time I do I’m halfway expecting to see Matt Damon as Jason Bourne around the corner. This is a distinctly un-American sound that prior to today I had only heard in movies.
- Single family dwellings: haven’t seen one yet. Could just be that I stayed mostly in the central area of Mainz, but I did walk a healthy radius today. Reminds me of Manhattan, without the skyscrapers.
And now a word from our sponsors: Bayer is Dan’s employer who sent him here on business. So his flight and our room the first few nights come from them. I had never seen a Bayer drugstore before, but they are all over Germany I discovered. And lots of others as well. Drugstores – or apothekes – do well here for some reason, or they must because they seem to be on every street corner. Right next to the bakery.