I’ve been looking forward to today since final plans for this trip started to firm up. Lauren arrived at our flat about 7:30 and we headed into town for breakfast and caught the train to Mainz at 8:55 as arranged with Dagmar. The rain we’d had last night in Speyer and here in Worms had actually fallen as snow between here and Mainz and a heavy fog hung over the landscape all the way. Dagmar & Matthias joined the train in Nakenheim and introductions were made.
Dagmar had planned our own tailor made walking tour of Mainz and the first stop was at the Romisches Theatre. Excavations for the old Mainz Sud railway station had uncovered the remains of a Roman Theatre – hence the new name of the station. From here it was up to the old medieval garrison on top of the hill and then down into the Alstadt. Chock full of half timbered houses this pedestrian only part of town is stunning, made more – so with all the Christmas decorations everywhere.
Next was the Museum of ancient Shipbuilding – where the remains of 6 Roman boats found when excavating for building work are now restored and on display. No photos were allowed but the old bits and the re-creations of the Roman fleet which plied the Rhine centuries ago were fantastic.
St Augustinerkirche was built right on the street, side by side with it’s neighbouring buildings. Inside were a group of school kids (primary age) putting the finishing touches to their Christmas presentations. The route into town passed the Kirchegarten (Cherry Garden) with it’s half timbered houses (the oldest of which was built in 1450 – and now the oldest of it’s kind in town)
High on my ‘must see’ list was St Stephans with the stained glass windows designed by Marc Chagal. Installed in the late 70’s when Chagal was already in his 90’s these blue windows are jaw-droppingly beautiful.
Back into town past the high school Dagmar had attended for ‘kaffe & kuchen’ (coffee & cake) in a lovely café with views over the Christmas markets and the side of St Martins Dom. The third of the Imperial Cathedrals, the Dom is huge, stunning, amazing! Built from 975AD (and burning down on the day of it’s consecration) and added to many times since. The cloistered garden to the side contains the headstones for each of the Bishops of Mainz who are buried in the crypt.
Next stop was the Temple of Isis, … well not exactly the whole temple, but the foundations of this Roman temple which was discovered in 2000 when a new Hilton Hotel was being built. The Hiltons were not happy that they had to stop work on the hotel while excavation and archaeological research took place. A simple glass door in the middle of a shopping centre leads down to an amazing display of Roman artefacts including fruit from sacrifices, jewellery and tomb ornaments.
Next stop was the Schillerplatz and the amazing Carnival Fountain and then up to the Kupferberg Museum. Home of German Sekt (sparkling wine) brewing from the 1850’s, the Kupferberg tours are a delight. Down underground through 6 storeys of wine cellars (including several from Roman times that were used as air raid shelters during the war) passing a collection of historical crystal & glass sekt classes ending up with an hour long tasting class/session! A sparkling red, rose and three whites … and no I didn’t drink a full glass of each.
Back to the Christmas markets to find another xmas decoration (this time a tiny silver cuckoo clock) and a glass santa for Dagmar (she collects ‘santa’ decorations). Matthias hunted out a really cool restaurant (I think it was called the Augustinerkeller) and we ate downstairs in a vaulted cellar. Lauren was totally thrilled to have a big chunk of red meat, and I tasted my first Radler (a German shandy).
Dagmar & Matthias were a joy to spend the day with … amazing people who we just ‘clicked’ with.