Armed with our student tickets, five of us set out on Sunday morning to explore Hessen a little better.
We decided to begin in Mainz and end the day in Wiesbaden. Beyond that, we didn't really have an agenda, so we made it up as we went along, which turned out to be a really terrific plan.
Our first decision of the day was to get off the train a few stops early at some Roman ruins. I hadn't previously know there were any Roman ruins, but I learned that on this spot are the remains of a Roman amphitheatre. Mainz was founded during the reign of the Holy Roman Empire, so I guess you could say it's pretty old. These ruins were discovered in the early 1900s, and they are right next to the train station. They're being restored, so there were fences up all around (I stuck the iPhone lens through a slat to take my pictures), but it was neat to see from afar.
Just past that, we came across the Citadel, which was constructed in the 17th century, which I'm beginning to think of now as "not that old", since it seems like so much was constructed many centuries before. A large part of this is still intact (I don't believe the entire thing is, but the sign was in German and I didn't walk the whole length to find out).
We got to walk in the main gates, where we discovered a festival going on.
Jenna got to try her hand at chiseling, which it turns out is very difficult.
We aren't sure what the purpose of the festival might have been, but there was a lot happening. There was a band, a car show, food stands, stands for home improvement (tile, wood floors), and a book sale.
I'm not a car person, but it was fun walking around and looking at all the different cars. I've never heard of some brands, and then of course they had some very cute, very tiny cars that are smaller than a smartcar.
Carson says he'd be happy with this one (and check out the Barbie car behind him!)
We decided to see where this opening led, and stumbled across the beginnings of a soccer game. We didn't stay to watch because it looked like one team was taking their time to arrive, but we did watch them warm up before moving on in our exploration.
We passed a park with the largest slide I've ever seen, and Carson, Jenna and Jaime took turns going down.
I don't know if it's just something I noticed while I was here, or if the water fountains in Mainz are famous, but I really thought there were some unique and intricate (and fun) water fountains here!
This is a carnival fountain, and all the details on it are really impressive.
A door that's just my size! (Carson forced me to cross the street to take this picture)
It was Sunday, so the shops were closed and deserted.
We stumbled upon this cultural festival. It was a week long festival and there were hundreds of booths and lots of people dressed in the traditional garb of many different countries. This was fun to see, and it all smelled and looked amazing.
We decided to split a bottle of Federweisser between the five of us because it was the most cost effective way to do things. We'd heard it was good with Zwiebelkuchen (onion cake - similar to a quiche or breakfast casserole) so we split one of those too.
We finally made it to the Gutenberg Museum. I don't know if I'd been living under a rock or forgot the name or what, but I had no idea that this city had so many big things happen. The printing press was invented here? Who knew?
Inside were the tiniest books made. They had original ones and these little ones for sale also. I thought they were cute, but I'm not sure why you'd want a book you couldn't read for so much money?
So you weren't supposed to take pictures inside the museum but I didn't realize that and I did take a few until I was asked to stop. Here's a Gutenberg Bible I shouldn't have a picture of.
We all really enjoyed the museum. I couldn't read a lot of the exhibits, but I was intrigued by the different kinds of printing that were done all over the world. They had different kinds of inks and papers, and very old samples of early writing and printing.
The best part though came at the end, when a man demonstrated how the printing press worked. He explained how it all worked and then demonstrated how the individual letters were made from silver by actually pouring molten silver into a mold. Next, he put the type in as it should be and picked someone to help him work the printing press. He chose Jenna, and I think we were all jealous at the end when he presented her with the page from the Bible that they had just printed. It was a great demonstration, and he graciously did it in both German and English.
Wiesbaden is the capital of Hessen, but other than that I don't know much about it! It felt bigger than a lot of the other cities I've been to. Wider streets and maybe a little less crowded? We didn't go all over the city, so I'm just basing that on the little bit I did see.
We stopped to take pictures in front of the Rathaus and this very large church.
Jordyn's Lonely Planet guide mentioned das!Burger as a good place to eat, so we took it at its word. It was terrific. The burgers were excellent (although I have to say that the burger I like the best is still the one my dad makes, and also I wish they'd had Duke's Mayonnaise), and the fries were phenomenal (that's a "side" order).
Our time in Wiesbaden was regrettably short. I think it would have been terrific to spend a whole day or at least several hours exploring, but that wasn't in the cards. We took pictures and admired pretty buildings as we trotted back to the train station, since the trains came once an hour and we weren't too keen on the idea of getting back at midnight. We were hopeful that we would make it to Marburg at the perfect time to catch the bus to the dorms, but that didn't happen, and we had to walk up the hill even though we were all tired.
By the way, these two slept on every train and claimed to be "just resting". Not so sure about that, you party people.