An April 2002 trip
to Mainz by Eve Carr
Quote: Mainz impressed me. It is a big city, the capital of the Rhineland-Palatinate, yet has a small-town ambiance. It's a historical treasure house, especially with the Gutenberg Museum. Yet, with its numerous long-lasting festivals, it's definitely a party city as well.
At the Gutenberg Museum, you'll be taken out of the world of bits and bytes and returned to the Middle Ages to see how Gutenberg revolutionized the world of printing.
Do plan to visit local restaurants such as the fun Eisgrug-Brau, where you'll be able to feast on a hearty luncheon buffet, as well as wash it down with their very own brew. Ah, the Germans are such great brew masters.
Make a point to see the historic section of the city, as well as the Roman ruins in Mainz, especially the boats that were found in the harbor.
Also try to plan your visit during one of Mainz's fabulous festivals, to enjoy this fun-loving party city.
Special paragraphs highlight important city sites, and there's handy information about where the tourist bureau is as well, along with museum addresses and schedules. The map is done in conjunction with Mainz marketing, so you should be able to pick it up at the tourist office (which is at the information center at the train station or at the city hall [Rathaus]).
I came to Mainz via a KD Cruise, and I'd definitely recommend this cruise line as a way to travel along the Romantic Rhine, because you can customize your itinerary to see the cities and villages you want.
Decorated with a necklace of trees, the Rhine River is a constantly moving highway, where river cruises and coal barges slowly move back and forth, while seagulls dart down to the water to capture fish and then soar upward.
Just below your window you'll see part of the ramparts of the old city of Mainz, and a promenade that immediately invites you to join bikers, rollerbladers, joggers or just those who stroll along, to enjoy the breeze from the historic Rhine.
Inside your room is a showcase of modern German styling that's both functional and aesthetically pleasing. Restful neutral earth tones set the background for the sleek geometrics of a blonde desk, black leather chair and a mirror/tv combo that adds even more space to the already large room.
The bath, typical of so many high-end German hotels, is dramatic and sensual. The bath/shower area, for example, is separated from the rest of the ever-so- spacious bathroom area by a glass wall. Step into this area and you can take a shower from a rainforest-type showerhead while the water falls directly on the slate floor. It's an exhilarating feeling, as is soaking in the huge tub.
The entire hotel shows how, like many things in Germany, the old is combined with new high-tech styling, whether it is in the architecture, the avant-garde furnishings in the lobby, or the decidedly stylish cuisine that is served here.
I'd return to Mainz just to stay at the Hyatt, but lest you think that I'm not being an objective reporter, I'll tell you that I thought that the amenity bottles here are too hard and it's difficult to get the contents out. Other than that tiny detail, I have nothing but praise.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 12, 2002
Hyatt Regency Mainz
MALAKOFF TERRASSE 1
Here, in the Hyatt's unique architectural setting of rough Romanesque stones juxtaposed with high-tech steel structures, the Bellpeper Restaurant, with its busy open kitchen, offers a culinary combination that's difficult to beat. The food is as visually interesting as it is tasty, the service is professional yet friendly, the ambiance is sleek and uncluttered, and there's a scenic view of the River Rhine.
The highlight of dining here was how interactive it was. Breakfast and lunch were served "buffet style," but with dishes of different shapes, and placed at various levels, it was fun to pick and choose among an array of everything from salads to desserts. Deciding was never so much fun.
Hyatt Regency Hotel
When I entered St. Stephans, I was spellbound by this incredible expanse of what appeared to be totally blue windows. Stepping further into the church, and then after moving around, I saw even more intricate colors and designs.
Looking at these windows is truly a highlight of any visit to Mainz. It's incredible that Chagall was in his 90's when he undertook this project.
The church itself is definitely worth a visit, even without the Chagall windows. Founded around 990, it was originally a collegiate church but is now a parish church. In 1857, the church was seriously damaged because a nearby gun powder storage facility exploded. Also, all that remained after the destruction of World War II was the outer shell of the church. It is magnificent to see how we can overcome the scars of the past.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 12, 2002
St. Stephan's Church
Be certain to see the History of Art memorials that decorate many of the pillars. Illustrating the artistic development of memorial design from the 13th to the 19th century, they also show how powerful the archbishops of Mainz were. As one of seven Electors who selected the German King (who was also emperor or the Holy Roman Empire), the Archbishops certainly had some clout. No wonder they were called King Makers.
The Cathedral at Mainz is located just outside the market square, which is always a place to really get to know a new destination.
The Cathedral of Mainz
Attraction | "The Gutenberg Museum"
Knowing how important Gutenberg's invention was to the world, and especially to writers, I looked forward to visiting his museum. Even though I was still recovering from jet lag, I picked seeing the museum over sleeping.
It was interesting to visit this museum of a hometown boy who made his mark in the world. I especially enjoyed seeing two priceless Gutenberg Bibles, a letter of indulgence, exquisite illuminated manuscripts, and rare blockbooks from the time of Gutenberg. If I knew more German, however, my visit would have been more memorable.
Since all of the captions are in German, with no translations, I missed a lot of significant items, I'm certain. All the more reason to continue with my study of the German language. Every time I visit this diverse country, I learn a little more of the language.
Attraction | "The Museum of Ancient Shipbuilding"
One of these areas is the Museum of Ancient Shipbuilding. Why is there a museum on Roman shipbuilding in Mainz? That's easy. Because, as they were dredging the harbor, Mainz workers found the remains of one Roman ship after another--so many, in fact, that they had a difficult time finding the money to preserve them. But they did find it, and today, visitors can see the original remains of five ships from the Roman era.
Unfortunately, the captions are not in English, but with Barbara's excellent narrative of this museum (and the rest of the city), it doesn't really matter. She brings the past to life and makes it extremely interesting.
Museum of Antique Ships (Antike Schifffahrt)
The best place to go to get an idea of the city's party atmosphere is the famous Carnival Fountain (Fastnachtsbrunner), which has been located on busy Schilerplatz since 1967. This whimsical sculpture by Blaius Spreng of Munich shows some 250 figures and carnival symbols in a towering sculpture, where water bubbles over enthusiastic party goers--from cats to clowns. Be certain to notice the soldier at the bottom who is washing his empty purse.
For an especially fun time, go to the Eisgrub-Brau, where you can enjoy some fine brew-pub beer, as well as a buffet array of one authentic German dish after another for just $5.50 Euro. I went back for seconds on the potato salad! And the potato pancakes were outstanding too. But, believe me, I ate more than potatoes here.
Established in 1872, this microbrewery was cool before microbreweries were cool, and, judging from those who eat here, the locals know a good thing when they see it. While individuals will enjoy it here, long wooden tables make it ideal for groups to enjoy.
So, to do this buffet justice, come hungry, and don't fill up on the pretzels. Save room for outstanding German cuisine at its best.
But German chefs know how to do more than prepare authentic German classic recipes. Dine at the Heiliggeist (Holy Ghost Hospital), and you'll find out that they can cook up some pretty modern dishes as well. In this dining room with subdued lighting, vaulted ceilings, and tables with marble inserts, I felt as if I could have been in Italy as well.
And, judging from the variety of pizzas on the menu, I could have been. The Tricolore that I ordered had barbecued chicken, pesto, grilled shrimp, ricotta, eggplant, and Mozzarella--among other things. My colleagues said it should have been called "everything but the kitchen sink." I especially liked the chicken, but just couldn't do justice to it all. It could have easily fed two.
I sipped on a refreshing 1980 Johanna Klostergarten Grauburgunder QbA trocken Rhinehessen, but noted that the menu contained drinks from Absolut Vodka to Jack Daniels. Teas ranged from peppermint tea to Earl-Grey.