[Travel] Mainz,Germany

Mainz is not nearly famous as its neighbor city(Frankfurt) but it will remain a special city for me. I now just settled in Stockholm,but before that, I was staying in Mainz for over 3 weeks. While waiting for the permit in Sweden, the stay was unexpectedly getting longer and I was hoping this “exile in Germany” would end soon so I could start to work in Stockholm as soon as possible than drifting. During the last week of staying, the weather got cold very rapidly so I was mostly staying in a cafe nearby.  But at the same time, Germany had treated me very well that I would feel nostalgic about the time there because people I met in the city were all friendly and it’s a pretty peaceful city.

Here are the places where I would recommend to stop by.

Mainz Dom


mainz domdom inside


This is probably the reason why Mainz attracts some tourists especially who are interested in history and love to enjoy architecture. Mainz Dom is so called one of the three most famous doms in Germany(the other two are located in Cologne and Trier). Although it was founded in the 10th century(so it’s more than 1000 years old), it’s still one of the tallest buildings in Mainz.

Mainz Cathedral is predominantly Romanesque in style, but later exterior additions over many centuries have resulted in the appearance of various architectural influences seen today. In other words, you will be able to see various style in one church. Sandstone was used as the primary building material for the cathedral so that’s why the color of the dom is red-ish.

In front of the Dom, there is a market and it holds every Tuesday and Friday until 1pm. It’s usually crowded and a good place to eat some good German breads.


nearbyzitadelleromische theater

zitadelle mainz.jpg

If you walk around the old town, I would highly recommend to go Zitadelle area. On the way from Mainz Dom, you will see Roman theater ruins and nice view of the city from the hill. The fortress was constructed in 1660 and was an important part of the Fortress Mainz. It was really nice to walk in the nice weather in fall around the area and locals like to jog there.

Cemetery(Hauptfriedhof )



One of my family traditions when it comes to traveling Europe is taking a walk in a cemetery in early morning.  There are not many people usually so it’s a good time to organize your thought in early morning enjoying architecture in cemetery and its serendipity. Although I wasn’t  with my family, I followed my family tradition. It’s on the way from the central station to the university. The main cemetery of Mainz was founded 202 years ago and it has been spiritual place for people in Mainz.




As Mainz is located along Rhein River, you can enjoy the view of the river while walking along this promenade. It’s a good place for jogging.


St. Stephen’s Church

st stephen

It’s a small church and might be easy to be overlooked by some tourists. However, I would strongly recommend to visit there since it has really beautiful stained glass created by Marc Chagall. Personally, I had visited this place several times for meditation(or contemplating) even though I’m not really religious person.




[Travel]Rhein River Trip 3- Rüdesheim am Rhein

4 years ago, I was on the trip to Rhein River and began the river cruise in Bingen. I climbed up to Klopp Bingen and saw Rüdesheim am Rhein across the river. Rüdesheim am Rhein looked beautiful with vast wine farms. I thought ‘I don’t have enough time to go there and spend time since I need to take the cruise and go up. I should visit Rüdesheim in near future.’ Finally, after 4 years and 2 months, I made it to Rüdesheim and fully enjoyed the view. It’s October so there are more yellow color in the view than in summer when it’s so green.

(Here are the link for my two blog posts on Rhein River: the first, the second)

There were more tourists from all around the world than I expected so it was quite easy to find the direction.



On the way to riding the cable car, there is a wine storage building.



This is the picture of the town. I hardly see any locals but tourists.


cable car


When you follow groups of people, you will eventually find the entrance for cable cars. Well, you can climb all the way up there but it would be quite a long hike. Riding a cable car also offers a nice view of the village and wine farm.

wine farm

beautyRüdesheim is a winemaking town in the Rhine Gorge, and part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in this region. In this area, the village produces one of the top quality German wine. statue

This is  Niederwalddenkmal. It is a monument that you will see after reaching the top of the hill by cable car. It was built in the 1870/80s to commemorate the Unification of Germany. German stereotypes as strict observance to the rule, straightforwardness and punctuality originated from Prussian virtues. The history of unified Germany is rather short and still German people usually identify themselves by region.


After enjoying the view and the detail of the monument, I went down and took the train back to the city where I’m staying. If you are staying in Frankfurt or nearby for a while, I recommend to visit Rüdesheim for a day trip.

[Travel] Germany: Day trip to Aachen and Monschau

In August 2014, I was staying in Köln for three nights and it was one of the most fun parts of my European trip for three weeks (of course, I like all the cities that I’ve visited during the trips).  Köln is a nice city (well, many people say it’s the ugliest city in Germany, though) but staying for three nights completely in the city can be boring for some people. So, I took a couple of day trips: one to Rhein river ( Rhein River 1, Rhein River 2) and the other one to Aachen & Monschau.

For your information, when you are traveling within Nord Rhine-Westphalia, you can get cheap regional day tickets via Deutsches Bahn. It applies to other federal states in Germany. Thanks to this information, I was able to take any trains/buses on that day trip to Aachen/ Monschau for about 20 Euro.

Before visiting Aachen, I always wanted to visit Aachener dom since it’s the first dom in Germany that was registered as a cultural heritage at UNESCO. It’s such an archaic church that it was constructed by that legendary emperor Charlemagne in the late 8th century. I woke up early in the morning in Köln and took the train to Aachen. It took about an hour.



<Aachen City Center>

Aachen downtown was pleasant and clean so it was fun to walk around. It took about half an hour by feet from the central station to the city center. I personally think the best part of traveling is just enjoying walking around the place and being immersed in the ambience of the places.



<At Centre Charlemagne>

As I mentioned earlier, Emperor Charlemagne ordered to construct the dom in Aachen. The reason why he wanted to build the sumptuous dom is that Aachen is that he was born in Aachen(or maybe nearby). The boy from Aachen eventually grew up to be legendary conquerer in Europe that we still learn his name from European history class.


<Aachener dom>


The exterior look of Aachener dom does not look that different from ordinary cathedrals in Europe. But the inside of the Aachener dom is totally marvelous so many people visiting dom simply said ‘wow!’ and I was one of those many people. Stained glass and golden mosaic ceiling are one of the most sophisticated decorations I’ve ever seen.



<Karlsthron-Emperor Charlemagne’s throne>

This is the throne of Charlemagne. It was erected in 790. Unlike typical throne, the throne is very plain and simple and entirely free of elaboration. Until 1531, it served as the coronation throne of the Kings of Germany, being used at a total of thirty-one coronations. In other words, 31 German kings sat the throne so no wonder why it looks withered. At least, it looks much more comfortable than the iron throne.


<Karlsschrein-Shrine of Charlemagne>

According to Wikipedia, the Karlsschrein (English: Shrine of Charlemagne) in Aachen Cathedral was made in Aachen at the command of Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor and completed in 1215, after Frederick II’s grandfather, Frederick Barbarossa had exhumed Charlemagne’s bones from their resting place in the Palatine Chapel, Aachen in 1165. It depicts the moment when Charlemagne  was enthroned on the front between the representatives of the church at a location which is reserved on all other shrines for Christ alone.

Despite the small size of the dom,  the dom is full of symbolic and historical spots in Germany. Visting Aachener dom and listening to the explanation on the history of dom were a great opportunity to learn more about German history.

After walking around, I took a bus to Monschau from bus terminal in Aachen.


Alas, by the time I arrived Monschau, it started pouring that I had to spend some time inside. Unfortunately for me, the last bus from Monschau departs at 4:30PM so I only had one and a half hour to look around this village. It is a pretty small medieval town near the border of Nehterlands, Germany and Belgium. As you might have guessed already, you can see the French influence in the name of the city(Mont-mountain in French). Indeed, there is a small mountain surrounding this village. Since Netherlands is flat, many Dutch people visit here as a resort place to enjoy some climbing. Monschau is a village next to Eifel National Park so many visitors stay here while visiting the park as well.


spidertin man

There are not many locals on the street but these spiders and the tin man welcomes visitors regardless of the weather. For the transportation reason, it is sad that I have to say goodbye to the tin man in the picturesque village.

[Travel]Rhein River Trip 2-Burg Rheinfels, Koblenz

The main purpose of stopping at St.Goar is to explore Burg Rheinfels which is not really a castle that we would imagine(I mean it’s not a castle like Schloss Neuschwanstein at all). It’s actually castle ruin. Here is the brief history of the castle:

In 1245, the castle was built by Count Diether V von Katzenelnbogen to protect the St. Goar tax collectors and soon developed into one of the mightiest fortresses in the Middle Rhine region.In 1479, when the lineage of the counts of Katzenelnbogen died out at the height of their territorial power, the ownership of the castle passed to the House of Hesse. The landgraves of Hesse turned the “Rheinfels” into a splendid renaissance castle, which, with its surrounding fortification, became one of the strongest fortresses in Germany. The turbulent history of the castle came to an end in 1794, when it was handed over – without a struggle- to the French revolutionary army. In 1796/97 the exterior walls and the castle were blown up.

Parts of Rheinfels Castle still stand,tattered but proud, in the 21st century.

In short, this castle is more than 750 years old and the castle was enormous that it takes at least 3 hours to look around every corner of the castle. There are a lot of tunnels and trenches so it would be the best place to do hide-and- seek when the castle was not destroyed. With a map of the castle, you feel like an explorers. It’s much better to have a flashlight(you can use it from phone nowadays thanks to the technology)  There are many young German boys and they certainly enjoy exploring the castle.



And on the hill of the castle, there is this nice view.



After wandering in the castle, I went down to have late lunch. There were some restaurants and they looked quite similar when I saw them on the way to the castle. So, I just picked nice looking one with some people. I wasn’t very sure how good the restaurant it will be so I chose safe choice: Schnitzel. You really can’t go wrong with Schnitzel in Germany or Austria. And with beer, of course. I was really hungry that I finished all the dish quite fast.

Then, I bought a ticket back to Cologne and there was about one hour transfer at Koblenz. One hour waiting for train would be boring so I looked up online where would be the popular tourist spot in Koblenz. I found Deutsches Eck is the most famous spot in Koblenz and it is about half an hour walk from the central station. I might have to wait another train but you know, the probability of coming back here is not that high(yeah, that’s statistical side of me). In the worst case, it’s buying another ticket. So, I decided to give it a try.

Koblenz is small size city. Not as big as Cologne but not small as those towns along Rhein river. Like many cities in Europe, Koblenz has new town and old town. Around the central station, you can see new side of Koblenz with some shopping malls. But when you are walking direction toward Deutsches Eck, you can see typical German old town. According to Wikipedia, Koblenz’s history goes back to 1000BC so it’s more than 3000 years old city. 


Then near the river area, you will see Deutsches Eck and you will find the gigantic equestrian statue of Wilhelm I. It is really huge when you see it in person. The first picture and the third picture are actually the views from inside of the statue. In the first picture below, it’s Deutsches Eck and it’s also the confluence of Moselle river and Rhein river. So, left river is Moselle and the right river is Rhein. All the flags in the first picture represent each state in Germany. Before unification by William I, Germany was divided into several families or several electorates. Under the leadership of Wilhelm and his Minister President Otto von Bismarck, Prussia achieved the unification of Germany and the establishment of the German Empire.

eckdeutsche exkkoblenz

This statue of Wilhelm I was once the symbol of united Germany. After the death of Emperor Wilhelm I in 1888, his grandson Wilhelm II wished to spark a nationalist cult around the “founder of the German Reich” by erecting the statue.

For me, I’m just enjoying the nice view but this would be the historically symbolic place for Germans. Unification by Wilhelm is the cornerstone of modern Germany.

On the other side of the river, there is a fortress, Ehrenbreitstein Fortress. Around 1000 BC, early fortifications were erected on the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress hill on the opposite side of the Moselle. You don’t have to climb the hill. Cable car is the best way to get there. I didn’t have enough time to visit but hopefully I can make it next time. If you are reading it and planning to go to Koblenz in near future, you can check this place out.


When I arrived Cologne, it was dinner time already. I woke up around 6am to go to Rhein and wandered for 10 hours. It made me really exhausted. I went to bed early and then head to Belgium after that day. It was three years ago and I still miss exploring Rhein River a lot. Next time, I wish I can explore different castles. Or maybe I can go to Moselle river,too! There are quite many places to travel in Germany than you think.




[Travel] Rhein River Trip (1)

When it comes to traveling Europe, some people argue that there’s not much thing to see in Germany. Maybe relatively true.Not far from Germany, there are France, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Greece and UK. Plus, the German stereotypes that they are obsessed with order, having no sense of humour might not be intriguing.  Might not sound like the most attractive country in Europe. But I would like to say there are a lot of hidden charms. If you are a big fan of medieval castles and towns, Germany might be your favourite country in Europe.

If you are traveling the west part of Germany in Spring &Summer& Fall and have enough time, I strongly recommend to take a cruise along Rhein River(English: Rhine River).

There are several companies that operate Rhein River cruise and I took KD Line as it’s the most economical option. Depending on your departure and destination, the ticket price is around 20 Euro to 40 Euro.



It goes both direction; from north to south, from south to north. Rhein river flows quite fast so it is much better to follow the current than against the current. Rhein River flows from south to north so it’s much more time efficient to take the cruise from south to north. So if you are staying north of the river like around Cologne, it’s better to take a train to the south and take the cruise.

When I travelled to Germany in 2014, I was staying in Cologne so I took the train to Bingen and joined the cruise in Bingen. I took off at St. Goar to explore Burg Rheinfels but you can hop on and off the cruise on the way.

Before exploring Rhein, I saw on the internet that the most scenic part is from Bingen to Koblenz and the scenery is forgettable from Koblenz to Cologne. That’s true but I still regret that I didn’t get to see Rüdesheim which is famous for having the best wine farm in Germany.

This is the picture of Rüdesheim along Rhein river. Doesn’t it look so lovely? And you can take a cable car to top of the hill in the town and it’s a nice spot to view the scenery of Rhein river.

I stopped at Bingen instead and it was still good. It’s much less touristy so it’s a good town to enjoy serendipity.


burg klopp

It took about half an hour to get to the top of Bingen and I found Burg Klopp with wine farm. Built in 13th century and along with castle Ehrenfels and Mouse Tower, Burg Klopp was a toll collecting station on the river trade. Soon the castle was destroyed and the ruin was sold and rebuilt partially. In 1875 a new Gothic style castle was built. When I got here, there was no one else so I enjoyed walking around vineyard freely. I love living in a big city but this place made me so relaxed and think I want to stay here for a few days to escape hustle and bustle for a while.


This is the panorama view picture when I went down from the castle.

After that, I bought a ticket near the riverside and waited for the cruise for 20 minutes. There were quite many people waiting for the cruise at Bingen. I wanted to sit outdoor area in the cruise but it was so full already with people who took the cruise in prior departures. I guess everybody thinks the same.

The ride from Bingen to St. Goar takes about one and a half hour. During the ride, you can listen the audio guide from the cruise for castles along the river.


It’s so called “the Pfalz”. It is a toll castle on an island middle of the river.  This is the smallest castle I’ve ever seen! It was erected 1326 to 1327 by King Ludwig the Bavarian. Around the tower, a defensive hexagonal wall was built between 1338 to 1340. Unlike the vast majority of Rhine castles, “the Pfalz” was never conquered or destroyed, withstanding not only wars, but also the natural onslaughts of ice and floods by the river. Its Spartan quarters held about twenty men. 

burg stahleck

This is Burg Stahleck in Bacharach. Bacharach is also a popular stop along the river. Stahleck Castle is a 12th-century fortified castle. It was once a castle but now it’s a youth hostel. If I have a chance to go to the river again, I would wanna stay here.


Guess what? This is the loreley(English: lorelei). Disappointed? That’s ok. It’s actually voted for one of the most disappointing tourism spots. The hill was fantasized mainly because of the literature. Especially the poem by Heinrich Heine.

I know not if there is a reason

Why I am so sad at heart.
A legend of bygone ages
Haunts me and will not depart.

The air is cool under nightfall.
The calm Rhine courses its way.
The peak of the mountain is sparkling
With evening’s final ray.

The fairest of maidens is sitting
So marvelous up there,
Her golden jewels are shining,
She’s combing her golden hair.

She combs with a comb also golden,
And sings a song as well
Whose melody binds a wondrous
And overpowering spell.

In his little boat, the boatman
Is seized with a savage woe,
He’d rather look up at the mountain
Than down at the rocks below.

I think that the waves will devour
The boatman and boat as one;
And this by her song’s sheer power
Fair Lorelei has done.


The Original:

Ich weiß nicht, was soll es bedeuten,
Daß ich so traurig bin;
Ein Märchen aus alten Zeiten,
Das kommt mir nicht aus dem Sinn.

Die Luft ist kühl, und es dunkelt,
Und ruhig fließt der Rhein;
Der Gipfel des Berges funkelt
In Abendsonnenschein.

Die schönste Jungfrau sitzet
Dort oben wunderbar,
Ihr goldenes Geschmeide blitzet,
Sie kämmt ihr goldenes Haar.

Sie kämmt es mit goldenem Kamme
Und singt ein Lied dabei;
Das hat eine wundersame,
Gewaltige Melodei.

Den Schiffer im kleinen Schiffe
Ergreift es mit wildem Weh;
Er schaut nicht die Felsenriffe,
Er schaut nur hinauf in die Höh’.

Ich glaube, die Wellen verschlingen
Am Ende Schiffer und Kahn;
Und das hat mit ihrem Singen
Die Lorelei getan.

The poem is very romantic as you can see. Heinrich wrote this poem when he was late 20s and one of romanticism poets in his era. I assume he must have been terribly romantic guy.

Schloss Schönburg bei Oberwesel

This is Burg Schoenburg in Oberwesel and now it’s a hotel. Schönburg Castle was first mentioned in history between the years 911 and 1166. The castle was burned down in 1689 by French soldiers during the Palatinate wars. Schönburg castle remained in ruins for 200 years until it was acquired by the German-American Rhinelander family who bought the castle from the town of Oberwesel in the late 19th century, and restored it. I really admire their effort to put it back the old castle that many people get to visit and stay.

After one and a half hour of watching scenary along the river, I arrived St. Goar and climbed up to the hill to explore Burg Rheinfels. Here I come to explore the old castle ruin!


[To be continued]