Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mainz is boring.

This is in part because carpet bombing flattened it in 1945, so there are only a few old buildings left in a small untouched section of the old town. But the rest of the blame must lay with the indifference of the subsequent town councils who seem to have engendered a total absence of civic pride in the local population with their apparent lack of city planning. Europe is a continent of pedestrians, as much so here as anywhere, yet it’s difficult to get anywhere in Mainz because you have to walk around so many walls and roads and buildings that suddenly loom in your way. Public spaces are half-hearted with unimaginative pebblecrete fountains smelling of chlorine, and gardens are yellowed and uncared for with half-broken green wooden benches from the 1970s. It is unglamorous and suburban.

This is the start of Germany’s famed Romantic Rhine. I now understand why, when I said I was headed next to Mainz, the guesthouse proprietor in Rothenburg shrugged quizzically at me as if to say, “Why?”

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