Happy belated St. Patrick’s Day! Obviously it’s not a big holiday here in Germany but this past weekend we ventured down south to the charming city of Mainz (pronounced: Mine-z) for a combo birthday/St. Patty’s day party. Alex’s good friend from college has been living in Germany for a few years and is currently living in Mainz, a small city near Frankfurt. Even though the 7 hour bus ride was excruciating, we had a blast celebrating with him and exploring in Mainz!
Although Mainz is not in what we might call the “Deep South” of Germany it has a very different look & feel from Berlin. To be honest, I would probably rather live in a small city like Mainz than in Berlin, but you gotta go where the jobs are! Outside of the main tourist area Mainz is very suburban. On our way to the train station we walked through a few large parks that were surrounded by clusters of quaint houses and streets (with hills!) with beautifully reconstructed buildings. I should mention that Mainz was heavily, heavily bombed during WWII and since then most of the city has been reconstructed to look as it once did, rather than modernized. I think this contributes to the old-fashioned feel of the city, especially when compared to Berlin. I really love visiting these smaller cities in Germany – they seem so authentically German. I have heard from Germans that Berlin isn’t very representative of the country but I suppose the same is true about most big cities in the world. They tend to have their own unique culture that differs from those in the ‘burbs or countryside.
Even though it was cold & windy outside we spent most of the day wandering around the city. Mainz has a pretty awesome city center with lots of shopping opportunities; there are multiple small malls & gallerias with European faves like Zara and H&M. Alex took advantage of these and got a new “Euro” sweatshirt & jacket – the North Face is nice but it shouts “I’m American!!”
Mainz also has great opportunities for thrift shoppers! Every weekend there is a huge flea market along the Rhine. Despite the crappy weather there were probably a hundred booths set up along the river walk selling used clothing, toys, knick-knacks, etc. In addition to the flea market there is also a large food market surrounding the 1,000 year old cathedral of St. Martin. We enjoyed some deeeelicious wildflower cheese, sausages & wine from a local vineyard (Mainz is known for its wines).
After wandering around some more we spent the evening (and very early morning hours) celebrating our friend’s birthday with his local friends. Yep, we hung out with real Germans for the first time since our move! They were all super friendly and (luckily) spoke English very well. It wasn’t much of a St. Patty’s Day party but a few of them did wear green! We had long conversations about life in Berlin, the Cold War and ‘when will Germany start drinking IPAs?!’ On the topic of food, one of the guests made a Mainz-area favorite party dish – Spundekäs! It is basically French onion dip with cream cheese and, man oh man, is it amazing! Especially with traditional soft pretzels. I am not a huge fan of German food but this is one we will definitely be recreating.
We had a great time in Mainz, despite the weather and long bus rides, and I can’t wait for our next outing in Germany!
Click below to see more photos from our visit to Mainz! (Sorry ’bout the quality – our iPhones couldn’t overcome the bleak weather!)