|Schloß at Karlsruhe, now housing the Landesmuseum|
|Original plan for "Carls Ruhe"|
Inside the Schloß is a wide-ranging museum, of which I saw as much as possible before I got exhausted. It struck me, while I was in the medieval section, how many different faces the Madonna carvings had, some more beautiful than others, all of them presumably inspired by the faces of girls personally known by the artists. There was a large collection of plunder from Ancient Greece, Egypt and the Roman Empire downstairs, and on the top floor artifacts from more recent, local history including many clocks, since this part of Germany, like Switzerland, was / is the home of precision engineering. Behind the Schloß spread the gardens, with the Fasanengarten to the east and the botanical gardens to the west, where Karl used to join in with his gardeners. Apparently he was hoeing between his tulips when he died of a stroke. Nowadays a mini train runs through the grounds, for tourists, who can also cycle (of course) along the avenues. The commercial / administrative part of Karlsruhe is easy to wander through as well, with pleasant squares, although this summer some of the main thoroughfares are out of bounds, due to substantial construction work. One of Chris' colleagues told me they're building an U-Bahn network here. Motor traffic has alreadybeen diverted underground, outdoor cafés with parasols above the tunnels, rows of linden trees by the wide paths, and arcades against the buildings.
|A corner of central Karlsruhe: not a car in sight!|
In Mainz you're better off without a car because the parking spots are limited, small and tight, much more so than in Canada. On foot, by following the patterns on the cobblestones, you can wander all over the Altstadt (old town) without getting too lost. The little shops and department stores all have entrances in the pedestrian zone and all the Eiscafés, restaurants or Bäckereien have patio tables. There's time to cross from one side of a street to the other or to stop and take photos or pause for a conversation midway, without any fear of being run over.
At the heart of the city is the Mainzer Dom with a market place around it. Here too is the modern Gutenberg museum, in which we spent an interesting hour for €3 apiece. Chris was thrilled to find a very old book, one of the first printed, a translation into 15th century German, of Boethius' The Consolation of Philosophy. Upstairs was, among other things, an exhibition about the history of newspapers. We saw some manually written ancient Bibles, and, of course, the exhibits relating to Gutenberg and his followers. In a side gallery, empty of visitors except for me, I found a lot of information about Chinese, Korean and Japanese printing inventions. It's not often realised in the west that the Chinese had been printing words on paper 400 years before the Europeans! Bi Sheng was the first inventor of the printing press, not Gutenberg.
|Demonstration of Gutenberg's equipment|
|Bridge across the Rhine at Mainz|
|Cyclists am Rhein|
|Mainz Hauptbahnhof, as seen from our hotel, Saturday morning|