For an encore, we visited the City Museum. This was also quite fascinating for other reasons. There was an interesting section about the reconstruction after the war, which explained why a lot of buildings in the centre looked both old and modern at the same time. Part of the debate was whether to restyle the town in a modern style, or rebuild in the old style. A lot was rebuilt in the old styles, so your 1960s vintage house can look medieval.
This being Frankfurt, you couldn’t get away from money, there was gallery dedicated to all the coins of medieval Germany. As there were around 40 separate states, that’s a lot of coins. There was also more contemporary exhibits, including the counters from a bank office, these included a “Drumbo” tchotchke, which Cathy had been looking to find.
The archaeological museum was quite fascinating, heavily biased to the Roman past of Frankfurt. We got audio-guides in English, but all the signage was only in German. A little puzzling and a lot of Google Translate got us the gist of things.
We tried to rest our feet today, but didn’t quite manage that. We went to see a couple of museums; the archaeological museum, and the city museum. Both were extremely good, more on that later.
The closest stop to the archaeological museum was Willy Brandt Plaza, where the Euro statue was. (Willy Brandt was the chancellor of (West) Germany from about as young as I remember such things, in case you were wondering.)
Something unexpected, we were looking for lunch in a market hall somewhere in town when we came across this bust of Otto Hahn. I vaguely remember him has an important person in science history, but had to look up the details. The plaque at the base mentions a Nobel Prize, the plaque under his bust has chemical formulae.
That’s basically what won him the Nobel Prize, the formula for nuclear fission of uranium. He was actually a chemist, not a physicist, but his chemistry led to the only conclusion, that fission was taking place. Then he left the details to the physicists to work out. He got the prize alone for the work, though some people think Lise Meitner, and maybe Otto Frisch deserved some of the glory as well.
I hadn’t noticed that Otto was a Frankfurter, as Frankfurt makes most noise about Goethe, the guy who wrote Faust, as their famous son. Like I said, all German towns have a famous son they’re proud of, but Otto Hahn wasn’t the one mentioned.
We didn’t make any effort to visit Goethe sites, but we did wander by the house walking from dinner to the tram stop. The tram stop was Willy Brandt plaza again, and this time I took pictures of the Euro statue all lit up.
We took a tram into Central Frankfurt today, to see what’s what. We got off at Römer which seems to be the centre of things.
The Römer is the old town hall (aka Rathaus), on the Römerberg (a plaza). Römer means “Roman”, but is named for a guy called Römer who sold it to the city several hundred years ago. It currently houses the tourist information office.
Today was mostly about getting to Frankfurt. The original plan was for the boat to end up in Frankfurt, so we got a hotel within walking distance of the mooring. With the change of plans, we ended up in Mainz, 40km away. So Crystal bussed us to Frankfurt, normally they only do transfers to the airport.
The bus did take us by Frankfurt airport to drop some others off, and then it got lost looking for the Sheraton (where two of our fellow passengers were staying the night before their morning flight). At least the front entrance of the Sheraton; we found the back of the hotel (with no evident entrance), but there was no way to get from there to the front. Frankfurt airport is notorious for being confusing.
Eventually we did make it to our hotel. We did go for a late walk to find out where we could catch a tram into town, which is when we saw the Ebbelwei Expreß as above.
We’ve got as far as the boat is going to take us now, we’re in Mainz. We’ll get off the boat tomorrow. We decided not to go on the early tours in Rudesheim, and had a lie in. The boat sailed at 11 and got to Mainz at 2ish. On the way we saw both France and Switzerland, or at least boats named for them.
We decided not to take the tour into town, wanting to rest our feet. For Mainz Gutenberg, the guy who made printing practical, was the subject. It seems just about every German town has a famous son they’re inordinately proud of, like Beethoven (Bonn), Marx (Trier) and now Gutenberg.
We took a leisurely stroll into town, and managed to not find any life in about an hour of wandering, until we stumbled on a more lively part of town. We seemed to be parked in the Government end of town, and it was a Saturday, so nothing was open.
We eventually got to Rudesheim, a little later than planned, and we quickly got bussed off to the “Signature Event”, a concert in Wiesbaden at the “Kurhaus” (originally a fabulous Art Nouveau spa building, now the city’s convention and social center). We saw a performance by La Finesse (a rather modern string quartet).
As you can see they used bows which would light up. Very effective while performing a selection from Star Wars, it looked like they were wielding lightsabers. The show was a mix of classic and modern pieces (even some Led Zeppelin!), with fancy light effects for extra zing.
It was rather late by the time we got back to the boat for a late snack, past 11pm.
We finally got to the Rhine Gorge at about 2 in the afternoon. We took up positions with refreshments and cameras on the observation deck (the roof of the boat), and watched the world go by for the next 5 hours.
The captain did make an announcement, that even though we were late (thanks to the lock at Koblenz) that he was in no hurry to navigate the gorge. The water level was still extremely low and he had to be careful not to run aground. We noticed they’d even drained the swimming pool, we assumed to make the boat lighter and higher in the water (there’s probably 35 tonnes of water in the pool).
The Rhine Gorge is probably one of the most photogenic places on the planet, and is just lousy with castles. I took over 200 shots today, I made a gallery of the best ones from just today, there are too many to fit on one page: Rhine Gorge.
When we awoke, we were still 20km from Koblenz on the lower reaches of the Moselle. It was announced we’d be getting to the Rhine gorge a little after lunchtime. So we had a bit of a lie in and a leisurely breakfast, before joining in a “Name that Tune” competition (we didn’t do spectacularly).
Some bureaucrat kept us waiting for a lock outside Koblenz for an hour, so we got to Koblenz and then the Rhine gorge a bit later than expected.
The boat set off for the Rhine again at 4pm. For once, we were traveling in daytime, so we got to see it negotiate the locks on the Moselle. Some of which look impossibly narrow, and our captain has to concentrate on maneuvering.