Mandatory fun at Heiliggeist…

Okay, actually, it wasn’t really mandatory fun… It was highly encouraged fun.

Bill’s company allocated funds for a holiday party that never happened due to hectic schedules. So, last night’s gathering was basically what would have been the “holiday party”. I don’t always enjoy Bill’s work parties, because they’re often about people “talking shop”. They also involve set menus. Such was the case last night.

But the party was held at Heiligeist, and we ate there before, during the height of the pandemic. Because of COVID, we ate outside. Luckily, the weather was good on that day. I was curious about the interior, as the building restaurant occupies was built in 1236 and was originally a hospital. But the interior looks very much like a cathedral. Also, I knew Bill wanted to go, and he doesn’t like to go to these events without me. And finally, until last night, I literally hadn’t left my neighborhood since the day after Christmas!

Arran had a better week, too. One of his lymph nodes is still swollen, but his energy and appetite are still fine. The vet called to check on him, since he had a rough week last week. Bill was happy to give her a positive report. After extensive “beagle proofing”, as Bill puts it, we were ready to go.

Fasching is about to commence, starting February 16th. I noticed a lot of people in Mainz dressed up in costumes. Next weekend, it will probably be pretty wild as there will be parades and parties aplenty. In 2019, we ate lunch at a restaurant in Wiesbaden and got MOONED by a reveler. Actually, he mooned the entire dining room. Yes, I got pictures. The post I wrote about it said it was our “first taste”, but I probably should write that it was our first taste of fasching in Wiesbaden. Of course we encountered the celebrations down near Stuttgart, too.

We were a little bit early to last night’s festivities. Bill wasn’t sure about how bad traffic would be. It turned out it wasn’t so bad at all… and once again, I had forgotten just how close to Mainz we are. We really should spend more time there. It has a very different vibe compared to Wiesbaden, which is more of an elegant, grand town. Mainz is more of a dynamic college town.

Originally, we sat at one of the large tables in the middle of the dining room. It was mainly so we could get out of the way of the busy wait staff. But then I realized that I don’t like sitting in the middle of the room. I spotted a small round table on the side, which was a little more secluded and offered a better view of everything… especially the bar area. 😉

Bill’s co-workers trickled in, and soon there was a large crowd in a very cavernous restaurant. I knew they planned to have a trivia contest, which would make it hard for people to hear. As the evening wore on, and the libations flowed, that is what came to pass. We decided not to stay until the end, because we were both kind of tired (especially Bill) and concerned about Arran. Arran did fine, save for a minor lapse in house training.

The food was pretty good, although it wasn’t very hot. We all had charcuterie, pumpkin soup that was a little spicy, and a walnut brownie cake with vanilla ice cream. For the main course, we had a choice of salmon, lamb, or the vegetarian dish, which I believe was eggplant. I didn’t get a good look at it, although Bill’s colleague, who was sitting with us, had that. I had the salmon, which came with a very interesting black rice and broccolini. Bill went for the lamb, which had cauliflower and some kind of Parmesan dumplings. Bill liked the cauliflowers and dumplings more than the lamb.

Here are some photos… We have plans for another outing tonight, this time with one of Bill’s old Army buddies, who is now his boss/co-worker. Going out twice in a weekend! It’s like the good old days! Before long, we will be coming up with some actual travel.

After we left, we walked back to the entrance to the parking garage, which was locked. So we had to take a stroll around the massive building to get to our car. And because we entered from a different way, it took some time to find it. But we were eventually successful after our discovery mission. In all, it was a good time.

churches, Sundays

Mainzer Dom and lunch at Caleo…

Bill and I never made it out yesterday, mainly because the weather is starting to change. It was rainy off and on yesterday, and we just didn’t feel like going out anywhere. So we stayed home, ate takeout, listened to music, and enjoyed some libations on the patio.

Today, we had nicer weather. Bill wanted to go out. I was still kind of inclined to stay in, because I have become a slovenly old battleaxe over the course of the past 18 months or so. However, it’s really not good for my mental health to stay home, nor is it particularly good for my physical health, since I tend to sit around and drink. So I let myself be convinced to go out. We could have gone to the Frankfurt Dippemess, which is going on until next weekend. But there’s no parking at the fairgrounds, and Bill and I don’t ride the rides or anything. I mean, I probably would, but Bill doesn’t like to.

I had mentioned yesterday that I wanted to go inside the Mainzer Dom (Mainz Cathedral). Somehow, despite living in Wiesbaden for almost three years, we never bothered to go inside the cathedral, which is massive and gorgeous. So today, we decided we’d go. Below are some photos from today’s visit. The Mainz Cathedral dates from 975, and has been renovated many times during its long history. I was very moved by how massive and beautiful the cathedral is. There are so many gothic accents and beautiful windows. There are also new stained glass windows, which were made by the glass artist Johannes Schreiter and installed in 2004.

The Dom costs nothing to visit, although donations are gratefully accepted. It’s open to visitors outside of service times Monday through Saturday from 11:00am until 4:00pm. On Sundays, it’s open to visitors from 1:00pm until 4:00pm (although Google says it’s open until 6:30pm).

As is his habit, Bill bought a candle for his father, who died in November 2020. He wasn’t able to go to his dad’s funeral, thanks to COVID-19. So, now when we enter cathedrals, Bill usually lights a candle and says a prayer. I have been to a lot of cathedrals since we’ve been over here. I think Mainz might have one of the most architecturally impressive ones I’ve seen yet. It’s really beautiful. I would love to hear the organ.

After we took a quick tour of the Mainzer Dom, we walked around the area so I could get more photos. I actually have a bunch of pictures from around Mainz, but the flower gardens are always changing. Plus, Mainz is just one of those cities that seems to pulsate with life and energy.

We were feeling a little hungry and needed to visit the restroom, so we went searching for food. I found Caleo on my trusty iPhone, indicating the restaurant was open all day with no pause. So we headed for there, first taking a detour to the river, so I could get a few photos.

We were kind of impressed by Caleo, which boasts an innovative menu with some interesting menu choices. There were some exotic items on the menu. Bill ended up ordering a crocodile steak, for instance. I went with a Spicy Wagyu Burger, which came with cheddar cheese, tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, onions, chili mayo, and lettuce. I have a feeling Bill would have liked the spicy burger more than I did. But it was definitely better than last week’s burger in Wiesbaden.

Service at Caleo was professional and friendly. Our server mostly spoke German to us, but did know English pretty well. I was flattered that she didn’t immediately peg us for Yanks. I guess all of these years in Europe have rubbed off on us. I was impressed by the food and the menu, which definitely offers some exciting choices. They had bison, for instance, and their vegetarian burger has a bun made from jackfruit. They also had a burger called “zebra”, made of zebra meat. I wasn’t about to try it. I think zebras are gorgeous. Sigh… I probably should be a vegetarian.

The weather today has been fabulous— sunny, and about 75 degrees during the afternoon. It was nice to get outside and walk around. And I was delighted to finally visit the Mainzer Dom, which is as stunning on the inside as it is on the outside. It made for a nice Sunday afternoon activity. I’m glad we went. Hope we continue to have such great weather.

churches, cute towns, day trips, Germany, Mainz, restaurant reviews, Rhein, Sundays

Heavenly windows by Marc Chagall and heavenly eating at Heiliggeist…

Last month, when Bill and I went to Zürich, we visited the Fraumünster church. That church is famous for having beautiful stained glass windows created by the Jewish French-Russian artist, Marc Chagall. I wasn’t familiar with Marc Chagall before we saw his windows in Switzerland last month. After I posted some photos on social media, a German friend told me that I could also see Chagall’s work in Mainz, at The Collegiate Church of St. Stephan. We live close to Mainz, but before yesterday, we hadn’t been there in a long time. Not only did COVID-19 keep us away, but there was also some construction being done on the bridge over the Rhein River which made crossing over there problematic. The bridge connects our home state of Hesse with Rheinland-Pfalz. I had actually forgotten that going to Mainz means leaving the state!

I think the last time Bill and I went to Mainz, it was to see my old friend, C.W., who is an American learning about German wines. I worked with C.W. in Colonial Williamsburg, back in the late 1990s. C.W. moved to Washington, DC and worked in a succession of fancy restaurants. He later decided he wanted to work in the wine industry, so he’s been getting educated. In the fall of 2019, he came to Germany to work at a winery as part of his education. He came back in the spring of 2020, just before COVID shut everything down. We weren’t able to see him on that visit, and we didn’t visit Mainz again last year or this year. That means that yesterday’s visit occurred almost two years after our last one! We had a good time yesterday. We’ll have to visit Mainz more often, now that we’re vaccinated. It really is a neat town with much to discover.

After looking at the location of St. Stephan’s Church, Bill decided he’d like to go out to eat. He found Heiliggeist Restaurant (Holy Spirit) on Open Table and decided that its status as the oldest citizen hospital in Germany fit nicely with our church theme. He made reservations for 3:30pm because, apparently, there weren’t any earlier ones available. I’m not sure why that is, since there were plenty of tables available when we were there yesterday. But anyway, the church was open for visitation from 12pm until 4pm, so the late lunch/early dinner time slot worked out fine. We took my neglected Mini Cooper, since the weather was fine and I could put the top down. I had forgotten how different the atmosphere is in Mainz, compared to Wiesbaden. It’s a refreshing change of pace.

After parking at the theater garage, we trudged uphill to the church. It was about a ten minute walk from where we parked. I hadn’t realized the church wasn’t in the old part of the city and was kind of unimpressed with the neighborhood that surrounded it. From the outside, St. Stephan looks like so many of the other churches in Germany. That’s not to say it isn’t a beautiful or impressive structure. It is a very lovely church, especially compared to many American churches. I’m just saying that compared to a lot of churches in Europe, from the outside, it didn’t look any more or less spectacular.

But then we went inside, and my mind immediately changed about the beauty of St. Stephan… I was overcome by the cool, soothing, incredibly beautiful, and peaceful mood cast by the extraordinary blue windows… The entire inside of the church is bathed in a blue glow made by Chagall’s windows, the first of which was installed in 1978. Chagall was 91 years old in 1978, and he lived until 1985, which only goes to show you that when it comes to great accomplishments, age really is just a number.

As I took in the azure splendor of the great artist’s work, I realized that I much preferred Chagall’s windows in Mainz to Chagall’s windows in Switzerland. A bonus is, it costs nothing to visit this church. In Zürich, we had to pay five Swiss Francs each admission to see a few of Chagall’s windows.

Of course, I might have loved these windows more because my favorite color is blue. I also just loved the way they all worked in concert to give the church an overall mood. I donated some change to the church while Bill lit a candle for his father, then he purchased a CD of the organ and some postcards at the gift shop. He says he’s going to try his hand at picture framing. Since my dad made his post Air Force living framing pictures, it’s a shame he’s no longer around to show Bill the ropes. The CD is, of course, for me. I am more moved by music than visual artistic endeavors. My mom was a church organist for over 50 years, so I probably have more of an appreciation for organ music than a lot of people do. However, as I listen to the music now as I compose this post, it occurs to me that if I could have been listening to it while touring the church, I probably would have been overwhelmed. I definitely am glad we took the time to visit St. Stephan and see these gorgeous windows! The church itself has an incredibly long history, having been established in 990. It is the only church in Germany that has windows by Marc Chagall, and I must say, the windows dazzled me! What an inspiration!