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January 2007
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Mainz, Germany

January 22, 2007
Filed under: Baby Dunbar, Blog — Kerry @ 2:33 pm

What a great city. I took a long walk today and saw several parts of the city. Much like Baltimore this winter, it’s unseasonably warm here, so it was in the 40’s today. Blue sky, sunshine, and a crisp wind made for a nice day. I walked past Johannes Gutenberg University, which is down the street from my apartment, to the Hauptbonhof, also known as the Main Train Station (built 1884). It was a nice stop and I picked up some postcards from a store that sold travel books (only in German), comic books, and magazines with unclothed women or men on the cover (these seem to be widely available). I also tried out the train station restroom, which was much cleaner than a train/bus station bathroom in the US. I had to pay to use the WC, but as I seem to have a 5 ounce bladder thanks to TinyD, it was well-worth the euro I spent. It probably cost less to get in, but I couldn’t understand the sign, so oh well. Another patron also couldn’t understand the sign, but he misread the international symbols for female (human in a dress) and male (human not in a dress) and looked quite startled when he saw me standing at the sink.

Mainz was established by the Romans in 27 AD and destroyed (the first time) in 406 by the Vandals when they crossed the Rhine. Mainz rebuilt and became the home of Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of the printing press in the 12th century. There’s a nice square, Gutenbergplatz, which is ringed by the Gutenberg museum, the Dom (Mainz’s largest cathedral) and a theater. Mainz was destroyed a second time during the 30 Years War in 1462, a third time by the French in 1688, and suffered much damage during WWII. All of this gives the city an interesting mix of the very old (Roman ruins), the old (beautiful churches and cathedrals), and the modern (the Hyatt hotel).

The Rhine River runs along the edge of the city and across the river is the city of Weisbaden. Mainz and Weisbaden seem to compete on important topics such as in the medical field, the arts, and most important, on the soccer field. Mainz has a premier league team while the rival city doesn’t.

On today’s walk, I went in 7 cathedrals and churches. They are everywhere, and the door is generally open for looking. The common themes were beautiful painted ceilings, nice stained glass, elaborate nativity scenes (one including a wise man with an elephant). St. Peter’s church was the first one I found and built in 1748 with a beautiful ceiling and a particular arrangement of windows that keeps Christ on the cross in a sunbeam most of the time. Nearby, there was a Roman Dativius Victor Arch (3rd c AD) and the relatively new Christ Church (1897), which has beautiful stained glass and a wooden ceiling.. St. Christoph’s church (1300 AD) is a bit older and only the shell remains. There are more churches to see.

I had a more guided tour from one of my hosts and his family. We walked through the old part of the city, which has narrow stone streets (few cars here), more churches, and lots of stores (closed Sundays in Germany). As many churches and cathedrals as I’ve seen, there are almost as many wine houses. Mainz is in region of Germany famous for producting outstanding wines. Alas, no wine for me, but I hear most of the wine houses also have great food.


Filed under: Baby Dunbar, Blog — Kerry @ 2:30 pm

You really can decorate an entire home (apartment) from Ikea. I know this, because the little apartment I’m staying in is completely decorated in Ikea. I suspected as much when I walked in and there was an abundance of blond wood and off-white fabrics. It’s very stylish and modern. Other than soap, shampoo, pepper, and the coffeemaker, I’ve yet to identify anything that’s not from Ikea in here (they’re good at labeling their products). It reminds me a bit of the Ikea catalog, where they take a 500 sq ft apartment and decorate it stylishly. I learned from my hosts that Germany is Ikea’s most successful site and I also saw Germany’s largest Ikea from the highway, which is 18 sq km in size. I don’t know how big 18 sq km is in acres, but it did look quite large.

Travels 1/19/07

Filed under: Baby Dunbar, Blog — Kerry @ 2:29 pm

I’m making good use of my pregnancy business suit. I wore it in San Diego for a GI meeting and now am in Germany. I have very nice hosts that I’ll be working with here. They picked me up at the airport, I have a cell phone that works in Germany (no thanks to Sprint in the US), and an apartment to live in for 2 weeks. They also took me on a walking tour of the city (Mainz), to lunch, and to a grocery store.

Translation of the menu at lunch was very helpful, as it was only in German. I can recognize some words from other languages (gnocchi, bruschetta) but clearly need to learn the German words for chicken, shrimp, beef, etc. I had a nice shrimp curry and some chocolate crepes for dessert.

It was also great to have tour guides for the grocery store. Everyone pays cash at the store, credit cards are only used in restaurants and some shops. The produce selection was great, but more expensive than the US. They also had some fruit that I couldn’t identify, and items that aren’t available in the regular grocery stores in the US (have never seen lychee fruit at the Superfly). Milk also comes in a box and sits at room temperature, because it’s ultrapasteurized. TinyD healthy seems to like it ok, and now the boxi is in my mini-fridge. Eggs also sit on the shelf at room temperature, but include a date of arrival, expiration date, refrigeration instuctions, and some sort of quality stamp on each individual egg. The best part of the grocery store is the nice selection of chocolate. I managed to restrain myself, so only have one large-sized bar of dark chocolate.

American Desserts

Filed under: Baby Dunbar, Blog — Kerry @ 2:25 pm

American Desserts

We had many visitors at work this week (from Germany, Australia, and Japan) who share research interests with my mentor and I. One night, we took them to a great Baltimore seafood restaurant – Oceanaire. One of the visiting professors commented during the meal that he didn’t particularly care for American desserts, that they are too large and too sweet. Shortly after, 4 complimentary desserts arrived from the restaurant manager. All were enormous, all were tasty, but all were incredibly sweet and one would have sufficed for the entire table of 8. The baked Alaska was a sight, tall with blue flames and several photos were taken with camera phones. There was the obligatory gigantic brownie sundae, which our waitress has never seen finished by a table of diners (we didn’t finish it either). A nice jumbo piece of cheesecake and my favorite, the key lime pie, also arrived. All tasty, but enough to feed a small army. OK, so this post isn’t related to pregnancy or babies, but for someone who’s always hungry, I can’t help but write about dessert.

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