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mainz journal

Ron and Kathy's Journal

May 2002

Day 1 - Monday, May 13

Our departure started at 4:20 PM from our hometown in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. We flew business class on Delta Airlines to Atlanta then on to Frankfurt, Germany. Business class had spacious seats with plenty of room for rest and relaxation. For the in-flight dining, we were given a menu from which we chose a five-course meal and there was a good wine selection to choose from. Ron says Kathy is getting spoiled. Imagine That!

day 2

Day 2 - Tuesday, May 14

Arrival time was 11 AM and our destination was Mainz, a 25 minute drive from the Frankfurt airport. We picked up our rental car from Hertz without much incident and then proceeded to get lost. What would a trip be like, without the excitement of getting lost and seeing things you would otherwise have missed, if you had taken all the direct routes?

hilton Since we enjoy a leisurely pace when we vacation, getting more pleasure from exploring one place from top to bottom rather than trying to cram in many sites in one day, we made the Hilton Mainz our home base for 3 nights. We had a comfortable room with a view of the Rhine River and there was complimentary fruit and champagne waiting for us in our room when we arrived. Our exhausted bodies wanted nothing more than to collapse on the bed for a few hours and try to adjust to the time change.

When construction began on the Hilton Hotel in 1981, on the banks of the River Rhine, dramatic archaeological finds were unearthed including 11 Roman ships from the 4th century. Five of them have their own museum and a copy of one of them sits near the hotel. Visitors can watch the restoration work at the Roman Ship Museum near the South Railway Station (Südbahnhof).

All of our site seeing in Mainz, most of which was centered around the Dom, was easily done by walking from our hotel.

mainz cathedralNot to be missed is the massive six-towered cathedral. St. Martins Dom is one of the major monuments of Mainz. Even after fires and bombardments from wars & revolutions, this "thousand-year old" cathedral still reflects many of the original details. The oldest parts date from the early 11th century. Later, the cathedral was again transformed in 1081-1137 and in 1183-1239. The rows of Gothic side chapels were added during the 13th and the 14th century. The Gothic altars and the magnificent loft did not survive, but it is still possible to see the large group of bishops' monuments from the 13th to the 19th century. It was being worked on while we were there.

gabled housesBelow the six towers of the cathedral is a pedestrian only Market Square lined with the most magnificent 18th-century half-timbered houses. After two decades of extensive reconstruction, the area shows a comfortable romantic ambience. We were able to experience one of the farmers market days, held 3 times a week. It is reminiscent of the South, with flowers and culinary delicacies abounding.
This area also boasts Roman remains as well as baroque and rococo buildings that blend beautifully with its narrow lanes and half-timbered houses.

In the same area, the Gutenberg museum is a unique memorial to a native Mainz resident, Johannes Gutenberg. We are thrilled to say we were in a city where world history was made. Gutenberg's invention of moveable type definitely moved the Middle Ages into the information age. However, we bypassed a visit to the museum. When doing research on the museum, we found that all of the captions are in German and with no translations available we feel that we would have missed the significance of it all. Stop and look through the huge windows, you will be able to see the printing machines.
If you do visit the workshop, visitors can trace the history of printing, beginning with Johannes Gutenberg's hand press, on which he printed his 42-line-per-page Bible from 1452 to 1455. The collections cover the entire spectrum of the graphic arts in all countries, past and present, as well as printing, illustration, and binding. The two Gutenberg Bibles must be the most popular exhibits.

st Christof's ruins
Everywhere you look there is a reminder that Mainz is the home Johannes Gutenberg. St Christof's Church, where he was supposedly baptized, is one of those places. Now it stands as a reminder of the WWII bombing.

towersThe Eisenturm (Iron Tower) was built around 1240 as a watchtower. Its name derives from the iron market that was held in front of the tower. Today it is an artist center with a gallery.
The "Holzturm" (Wood tower). The "Holzturm" isn't made of wood but this was the place in earlier times where the wood was stored that was transported here over the Rhine-river. At some point it also served among other things as prison of Schinderhannes.

With the temperature around 75 degrees during the day and around 50 at night, it was much warmer than we had expected. That made for lovely walks along the Rhine Promenade. Starting from the Hilton Hotel, the promenade is a long, level paved stretch that follows the river.

Mainz is an interesting city, set where the Rhine and the Main Rivers meet. A good spot to try local wines and for those wanting to take a long winding drive up and down the Rhein. It's definitely a good place to start for the Rhine River Cruises.

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