*Click on each picture for a description
There's a lot to recommend about Mainz. I had only smallish hopes for this town since my travel hero Rick Steves dismisses it in his Germany guidebook. The Mainz Hyatt Regency, however, is a solid category 4 hotel and a good use of the Hyatt credit card annual free night, so here we are. There is a train station conveniently located below Frankfurt Airport's Terminal 1, so after reporting David's lost luggage (thanks American Airlines!) we hopped on a local suburban train for the 20 minute journey.
Even though we arrived around 10 am, our upgraded room was ready. Hyatt for the win! After a WEE nap, we set out to explore the town. Much of Mainz was destroyed in WWII, but its commanding Dom still looms over the center of town. The festive Weihnachtsmarkt is splayed out in its shadow. It's not the largest or the greatest Christmas Market in Europe, rather one mostly frequented by locals and visitors from the surrounding communities. We heard very little English during our visit. Tourists have not spoiled this market OR this town! Last night we explored the market and enjoyed our first taste of Glühwein. After a quick dinner in the hotel lounge it was time for bed.
In 1900, the citizens of Mainz established the Gutenberg museum, making it one of the oldest museums in the world devoted to the art of printing. The main attraction is two well-preserved Gutenberg Bibles as well as other more ancient documents. Mainz also has lovely restaurants and very friendly people. Most speak at least a little bit of English. That combined with our little bit of German got us through just fine. After a visit to the museum, we lunched at a communal table at a very popular fish restaurant. A lovely gentleman was by himself across the table and soon began to try to assist us with the menu. We found out that he had lived in Chicago in the mid-70s. Of course the conversation soon turned to last night's attack at the Christmas Market in Berlin. His comment was very interesting - something along the lines of "Your police would have shot the driver much sooner than our police". I didn't quite know what to make of that. He also told us that today was the first time since the 70s he had seen police with assault rifles standing casually around the square. People are a bit shook up here, and rightfully so.
After lunch we toured the Dom, Dom Museum, Treasury and Cloisters. A church has stood on the site since 540, and the museum holds relics of each iteration of the structure. After a quick break for chocolate covered clementines (David) we made our way to St Stephan parish church in order to view the Chagall windows. Marc Chagall painted 9 blue windows between 1978 and his death in 1985 in order to contribute to German-Jewish reconciliation. The windows are gorgeous; however I enjoyed seeing the organ just as much. The pipes appear to "float" - truly a majestic installation. I stole a picture from Wikipedia to place here because the lighting was just too dim at dusk to do it justice.
Tonight we enjoyed dinner in town and celebrated the return of David's wayward luggage and our 8th wedding anniversary. Tomorrow we travel by train to Colmar, in Alsace. Good night from Mainz!