Saturday, May 9, 2015

Off the beaten path in Germany: the city of “Mainz”

The Episcopal chapel service at one of the small military installations in Kaiserslautern set up a field trip to the Cathedral in Mainz, followed by a tour of the Gutenberg Museum around the corner. Mainz is a reasonable day-trip drive from the Kaiserslautern area, and the train is also an option. After a one hour car ride, we parked at a garage near the city center. We weren’t thrilled about the 12 Euro fee for 6 hours, but we couldn’t find an on-street spot due to the large farmer’s market just outside the Cathedral. Anyway, the garage was cheaper than the train.

The Cathedral was peaceful inside, unless a combination of Romanesque architecture and Gothic decorations would bother you. A beautiful cloister led to a “treasury” museum which we did not go to on this trip.

We had lunch at one of the numerous cafes on the square outside the Cathedral. Our group enjoyed sandwiches, pizza, 2 different hot meals, and desserts- but of course!

We’d highly recommend the Gutenberg Museum, even if your top priority is not  seeing the first printed Bibles. There were sections on the history of paper itself, printing presses, newspapers, and exhibits about the printed calligraphy of China, Japan, and Korea, along with European handwriting. The Bibles and other books showed how painted letters and vines decorated pages. It was also neat to see a printed copy of Luther’s 95 Theses! There were demonstrations of printing presses and a fun gift shop. Too bad we couldn’t take any photos inside the museum. 

After the museum, we walked around a bit, scoring on fruit and flowers. I’m not sure why the strawberry vendors were trying to convince me that 2 boxes of strawberries at 3.50 each were a bargain at 2 for 7 (I can do math in my head)? Miraculously, the oranges that were weighed in at over 4 Euro, suddenly were re-weighed and came in at closer to 3 Euro when we said we wouldn’t pay that much for 2 albeit large oranges. Finally, the flower vendors were packing up, and we couldn’t negotiate at the stand that had already removed their price tags, but we were able to have 2 bunches of flowers sold to us for less than the marked price of each separately, upon our offer to buy both at a named lower combination price. Paid full freight for asparagus, which is in season now, and delicious. One of my colleagues said there is a lovely Christmas Market in Mainz, too.

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