Thursday, February 20, 2014

Monday in Mainz

Since I had Monday off for the American holiday, I wanted to take a trip somewhere. I haven't been feeling that well after being sick on and off since January, so I decided to go somewhere close. I had been considering hopping over to France or to Luxembourg, but I was being a punk and didn't want to deal with the French language. Usually that's a lame excuse, but again, I don't feel great and I wanted to stick with a foreign language I can basically speak/read/navigate so I decided to stay in Germany.

I also didn't feel like driving or paying an exorbitant amount for a train ticket. I checked out and found a last-minute bus ticket to and from Mainz for 17 euros. It was a fast trip so I decided to go. I thought I could find a tasty restaurant and check out a museum or two for a short day trip.

I totally biffed on the museum end of things. Museums are often closed one day a week, and that "ruhetag" (literally, "day of rest") is usually on Monday. Mainz was no exception so I wasn't able to visit any museums. Darn!

I still enjoyed myself. For once, I really didn't plan my day or read much about the town. I wouldn't say that I'm the most prepared person in the world for trips, but still, everything I did on this trip was a bit outside the norm for me in how freeform it was. It all worked out fine in the end.

After the bus dropped me off near the Hauptbahnhof and I enjoyed a hot chocolate to warm up, I went in search of the tourist information center to get a map and find things to do. About a mile from the train station, the tourist center is across from the Rathaus (city hall), which is situated on the Rhein River.

I picked up some maps and wandered over to the Rahaus. I have to admit: I found its design to be stark and a bit ugly. In fact, I hadn't been impressed by much of Mainz at that point. Most of the buildings I had seen were modern and not very handsome.

The Rathaus,
Trying, unsuccessfully, to meld old and new.
As I wandered around, I found the Dom, or the Cathedral, and the Old Town. Ahh...that was so much better with historical architecture.

Ooh, Mary n' Lil' Baby Jesus, on a pedestal! Looking more traditional here.

The Dom, or Cathedral, of Mainz.
I nipped into the Dom for a while. I love visiting old churches and buildings to look at the architecture and art. The Dom had some interesting pieces, such as the skeleton below. It's the first skeleton sculpture I can think of that I've seen with angel wings. Even stranger yet is that it appears to have crashed down upon the rest of the sculpture.

In a side wing off the altar, I saw a sculpture that really illustrated something I learned this summer from the German history and art class that I took: in religious art, there might be some sort of curtain at the top of the piece. This is to symbolize that the church allows one to take a peek into heaven/the afterlife to see what glorious things await. I'll have to check my notes, but I believe that this has ties to the Counter-Reformation.

See the curtain at the top?
Leaving the cathedral, I moved on to have lunch at Mexico Lindo. I'm on a neverending quest to find Mexican food in Germany. Lunch was pleasant enough though not a home run for Mexican food.

I then explored more of the Old Town.

Strangely proportioned Jesus, anyone?
I left the old town and wandered into Schillerplatz. There I saw the following: the "...Mainz Carnival (Fasching) Fountain was erected in 1967.  Created by Blasius Spreng, the nine meter high bronze fountain has more than 200 figures on it," according to  It's interesting but slightly disconcerting too.

I really liked the sculpture below, of Saint Bilhildis. First of all, I like it because she is holding a building. I don't know why, but I like when sculptures etc. do this. The Dom in Cologne has some floor mosaics that depict people doing that too. Usually it indicates that the person has something to do with the church, such as designing or building it. Secondly, I love the horde of mini-mes (Mini Bildis?) at her feet. There's a whole lot of symbolism that I don't know the back story but it's an amusingly awkward statue.

I had to stop admiring Ms. Bilhildis since it was time to return to the bus to go home. It was an enjoyable day in Mainz.

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