Today started mush like any other day: hostel breakfast – gather our belongings – walk/tram to train station – stop in at post office – catch train to Frankfurt – catch subway to Floersheim – walk to hostel – get slightly lost on walk – check in to our room. For those of you that don’t know where Floersheim is (and we’d be shocked if anyone actually did), it is a small town located a little ways off from the Rhine river. By S-bahn train, it’s about 25 minutes from Frankfurt and 10 minutes from Mainz. Basically it’s somewhere in the Rhine area where there was a hostel with free beds at the start of October…finding somewhere to stay here was harder than one might think!
We are staying at the Wanderlust Hostel. Yes, the Wonder & Wanderlust girls are staying at a place called Wanderlust…kinda cute, eh? It’s got a bit more of a hotel-y feel to it, but we’re ok with that. They’ve put us in a private room because we’re possibly the only people staying there right now…or maybe we just haven’t seen any of the other guests yet. That seems odd considering the booking issues we were having. The man who owns the place checked us in and told us about the area. He was super enthusiastic, pulling out brochures & maps and describing the castles of the area…as that is the main feature of the Rhine river: it is lined with tons of castles. He told us about the boat trip and the trains that go up both sides of the river, as well as the cycle paths. We were then quickly ushered outside and presented with bicycles to use for the day!
It was gorgeous out and the hostel owner told us to take advantage of one of the few days of nice weather Germany has left. We couldn’t argue as we have no idea what Germany’s falls are normally like, so we took the bikes and set off for Mainz. There is a handy cycling route called the “R3” that runs all the way down the scenic Rhine area. As long as you keep following the signs you can go quite far along the river. We didn’t actually ride that far along the Rhine river because, like we said before, Floersheim is a little off of it. It does sit on the Main river though and we got to cycle along it until we reached the Rhine. The path was really gorgeous! For a large chunck of the ride we had the Main river flowing on our left and fields of grapes on our right. The vines have been harvested already but the vineyards keep 10% of the grapes on the vine until after the first freeze. These are then used for ice wine. The hostel owner had told us not to fill up our bags, but we could stop and sample a grape of two…so we did 🙂
Our bicycles were simple old clunker types. They had the flat platform on the back for your bag or basket or whatever you had to carry. Justine’s was “Blue Jean Blue” and had a couple of different speeds. Kristin’s was purple (she started calling it the Purple People Eater…at least to herself she did) and had back-peddle brakes. This was good for her. If you know Kristin’s history with bike riding you will know she needs to keep it nice & simple.
When we got to Mainz we crossed the river into downtown and found a park. It was hot hot hot so Justine had a little lay-down in the shade. Kristin played on iPad. When we were rested up we headed along the riverwalk towards the Marketplatz (which you should have learne dby now is always the town center). This is the area of all of the main sites of Mainz. Mainz was first founded in 38 BC as a roman fort. It develop dint a legionary base and then a legitimate city. Like most German cities, between 1942-1945 Allie bombing destroyed 80% of the Mainz downtown area.
The big stop of the day was the Gutenburg Museum.
If you have been following us since the start you will remember our very first reader challenge…we asked all of you to try to guess Kris & Justine’s top 5 favorite historical figures. When we revealed them Johannes Gutenburg was on Kristin’s list! Most of you probably read that with a shrug and a “Who the heck is that?” Now you get to find out! Gutenburg was the man who invented the printing press, and moreover, moveable type. This has left you feeling like Kristin is a little odd if that’s her favorite person in history, but it’s more his story she loves. The first thing Johannes Gutenburg tried to do with his newly invented printing press was print money. He was so far in debt from being an inventor and gambler that he needed a way out…in the end he got a deal using his press to make bibles and that bailed him out money wise. It’s also so random and ironic and hilarious… Anyways, the museum… The Gutenburg Museum chronicled the development of books, printing, and the devices used to create each. We saw books from the age when everything was handwritten, then from the age of block printing (where the full page is carved into a block, ink is applied & then the block is pressed to the page) and then from the days of movable type. Moveable type was when peope realized you could create individual letters and rearrange them to say anything you wanted…what a novel idea! There were different printing devices that dated back over a century and a half. The old ones were mighty big!
There were also exhibits on printing in China & Japan, and one on how books are bound. We found this interesting as we had never really thought about how a book is put together. Then we came to the “Development of Newsprint” area, but it was all in German so we didn’t learn much there. Speaking of all in German, we got to see a live demonstration of how the type pieces were made and how Gutenburgs press worked…but it was entirely in German. Luckily Kristin wrote an essay on Gutenburg and printing in one of her History of Technology classes and was able to give Justine approximate English translations…very approximate.
After our exciting museum trip we went for supper. We picked somewhere close by as we were rather starving. It was wonderfully German and we refused to take the English menu as to enhance or German experience. Justine got a mushroomy schnitzel with French fries. It was huge and she enjoyed every bite. Kristin took a gamble and picked some random sausage dish that she was pretty sure came with potato salad (if her translation was correct). It turned out to be little sausages, that resembled American breakfast sausage but tasted way spicier, and a cold tangy potato salad concoction. The random choice ended up being delish! To drink we both had a grapefruit/beer mixture from local brewery. It tasted like beer but with an awesome hint of grapefruit. Justine especially loved it because that kept it from being too “beery”.
We wandered around Mainz for awhile as it was starting to get dark. We knew we couldn’t ride our bikes back on the path now as there were only small portions that were lit. But at the same time we weren’t ready to go home just yet. We found this awesome statue of Gutenburg on our travels:
When it got a bit later and we were bored of aimlessly wandering we caught a S-Bahn back to the hostel town. There is no problem with bringing your bike on a train here as absolutely everyone has bikes!
Love, Luck & Letters,