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Football in Germany

Mainz/NUFC friendly day one

View Mainz NUFC friendly 2017 on ToonSarah's travel map.

London to Mainz

T5 Pod, LHR

Less than a week after we had landed back at Heathrow on our return from Seattle, we were at the airport and flying again - this time on a short hop to Frankfurt with British Airways. Our final destination though was Mainz, where we would be meeting up with friends to go to a football match, as Newcastle United were playing a pre-season friendly match there.

Our flight was a very early one so we decided to drive to the airport as the Tubes couldn't be trusted at that time. We used Terminal Five's new Pod parking - transfer from car park to the terminal is in small futuristic driverless vehicles, eliminating the need to wait for a shuttle bus. Five minutes after parking we were in the terminal.

Our room at the Hilton

The short flight landed on time at Frankfurt's Terminal 2, from where we had to catch the shuttle bus to Terminal 1 where the two airport train stations are located. We took a regional train to Mainz from the Regionalbahnhof – cheaper and only a fraction slower than the inter-city option.

We had reserved a room for the night at the Hilton City Centre on Münsterstrasse. There are two Hiltons in Mainz, as we discovered when our friends Pete and Iris decided to reserve the same hotel as ourselves but mistakenly chose the one on Rheinstrasse! Never mind though - we walked up to ours, checked in, and although early were able to get our room and freshen up. They meanwhile had arrived by train from their home in Trier, taken a taxi to their Hilton hotel, and walked over to ours.

Exploring Mainz

Although the football was the main reason for visiting Mainz, we had never been here before and were keen to see a little bit of the city. Pete and Iris know it well (their daughter Stephie studied here) so offered to lead us on a short stroll through the old town as we had some free time before the match.



Our walk took us through Schillerplatz, where I loved the carnival fountain, the Fastnachtsbrunnen. This dates from 1967 and is around nine metres high. It has more than 200 bronze figures and symbols relating to the carnival, which is a big deal here in Mainz (even more so than in many other German cities). The figures include the Fool, the Monk, the Harlequin, the Donkey-rider or Eselsreiter, the Money-bag Washer (Geldbeutelwäsche) and the city goddess Moguntia. The design tapers towards the foot, which is said to symbolise the unstable happiness of fools and also shows how the city and its cathedral are ‘turned upside down’ at carnival time. Some of these photos, by the way, were taken later in the day when the light was better.

From here we made our way towards and around the cathedral via some of the other city squares and streets.

In Bishofsplatz

Near Bishofsplatz, and in Leichhof

Statue of Rabanus Maurus, a former bishop of Mainz, in Domstrasse

The cathedral is dedicated to St Martin and is mainly Romanesque, with (as is common) many later additions in different architectural styles, including Gothic chapels and a Baroque roof to the west tower. It was a shame that part of the cathedral was covered in scaffolding - that, and its unusual proximity to the surrounding buildings, means that I have no pictures of the whole edifice, only details.

Mainz Cathedral

We went inside briefly. It is impressive though quite dark and sombre. I'm not sure why that should be - the stone is not as dark as it at first appears, and there are plenty of windows, but maybe those surrounding buildings block some light? But there are some attractive details and the windows themselves are lovely in a modern understated way - I liked the monochrome ones at the back, for example.

In Mainz Cathedral

Gutenberg statue in Gutenbergplatz

We walked round a few more streets, with me taking some random photos as we went, and then stopped for drinks at a café in the Gutenbergplatz. It was a hot day and my lemonade with mint really hit the spot!

Base of Gutenberg statue

The statue of Gutenberg (who was born in Mainz) was erected here on the occasion of the 400 year anniversary of his invention of the printing press. He holds a Bible and around the base are scenes from a printing house. Elsewhere in the Altstadt is a museum devoted to the life of Gutenberg, but this was a flying visit with limited time for sightseeing so we didn’t visit that or many of the city’s other sights. But what little we saw of the central area convinced us it would be worth a revisit some time!

By now though it was time to meet up with the rest of our party at the stadium, which lies some distance out of town, so we hopped in a taxi to get there.

Match at the Opel Arena

Opel Arena

The Opel Arena was built just a few years ago and opened in 2011. We have been to quite a few such modern stadia but none quite like this in terms of situation, as it sits surrounded by farmland. It was odd to see fans walking towards it through the fields!

Opel Arena


Mainz fan

Those fans, and Newcastle ones, were starting to gather, although it was still over two hours before the match would start. There were a few activities and attractions organised that had drawn people here early - some live music, fun and games for the kids, food and drink stalls. We watched 'Tommy Freestyle' for a while, who was very good.

We met up with Pete and Iris's daughter Stephie, her husband Dominik, his brother Tobi and his girlfriend Jojo, plus our friend Barry. Finding some seats in the shade, we got some beers and other drinks and settled down for a good chat. We hadn't seen Pete, Iris and Barry for three years, Stephie and Dominik for ten (!) and had never met Tobi and Jojo, so there was plenty to talk about - including of course football (who have we signed and sold, how might the team fare this year, back in the Premier League, etc).

Eventually it was time to take our place in the stadium. Dominik had secured us a block of seats in the Newcastle end but as these were in full sun and the section not full we moved a bit higher up, from where we had a good view of all the action, albeit slight marred by the netting European clubs tend to put around away ends.

At the match - Tobi, Jojo, Dominik and Iris

The hot sun, and the need to avoid injury with the season looming and nothing at stake here, were evident. In the second half both managers made multiple changes, as is often the case in friendly matches, and it paid dividends for Newcastle. The arriving players were more lively and the goal soon followed, helped by some flapping by the Mainz keeper. It looked as if we would come away with a probably deserved draw, but late in the match Mainz scored again and the game finished 2-1 to them.

Match photos

Despite the heat and rather flat performance, the Newcastle fans were as usual in good voice. At half time we had an interesting chat with the German couple who sat next to us. He a Bayern München fan and she an Eintracht Frankfurt fan, their connection to Newcastle stemmed from the three years she had spent living in Tynemouth.

Leaving the stadium - Jojo, Tobi, Chris, Barry, Pete, Peter

Leaving the stadium - Barry, Dominik, Pete

Evening in Mainz

After the match we took the free shuttle bus back into the centre of town, went first to a pub near the Schillerplatz for a beer.

In the pub - Jojo, Iris, Stephie

In the pub - Pete

From there we went on to a rather attractive restaurant, Heiliggeist, which is in an old church near the river. The food here was very good (I loved the chilled cucumber and yoghurt soup!) but the service a little slow and the room a little warm.

Heiliggeist restaurant

Chilled yoghurt soup

In the restaurant - Pete, Chris, Dominik, Iris, Jojo, Tobi

In the restaurant - Peter, Liz, Barry, Nathalie

In the restaurant - almost everybody! (Pete's photo)

By the time the meal finished we were very tired, understandably so given our early start, so we made our farewells to the group and walked back to the hotel through the pleasant streets of Mainz.

Posted by ToonSarah 04:43 Archived in Germany Tagged football restaurant soccer city friends cathedral

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Hi Sarah, I'm glad you enjoyed your quick visit to Mainz. Back on VirtualTourist I used to have a large page on Mainz, but it was one of my earlier pages so I am sure it will need a lot of updating if I ever decide to post any of it on my website.

by Nemorino

Ah :-) I see you were at my favourite restaurant :-) I found it when we had a tour through Jewish Mainz during our training and loved it!

by Trekki

Thank you Don and Ingrid :)

Ingrid, we liked the restaurant a lot, though we were a bit too tired to properly appreciate it. Our friend Stephie knows Mainz well, as she studied here, so she had chosen and booked it - a very good choice :)

by ToonSarah

Nice photos of the Fastnachtsbrunnen and good description. This fountain immediately reminded me of the Tinguely Fountain in Basel, created by Jean Tinguely in 1977. I know they are totally different... But I saw the Tinguely under snow and ice in 1999 and it made the mechanical figures look almost medieval and "carnavalesque"! The Fastnachtsbrunnen may have inspired Tinguely. :-)
Fun to see The Opel smack in the middle of a field!
Thanks Sarah!

by loubess

Thanks for your visit Lou. I just looked up the Tinguely Fountain and I can see what you mean :)

by ToonSarah

Loved the Fastnachtsbrunnen fountain. Fountains are such happy creations. My favorite is the Stravinsky Fountain in Paris by Tinguely and Niki de Saint-Phalle. Pure fun.

by Beausoleil

Thanks Sally, I love fountains too :)

by ToonSarah

Got to say the title of this entry did not attract me but I did enjoy reading about your stroll in Mainz. First I have heard off the nets you refer to at the football. .. sad they are needed.

by Wabat

Following the Toon in Europe is only ever marginally about the football, Albert, especially when the match in question is a friendly ?

by ToonSarah

Guess I got put off football to much as a kid .. my grandfather was a major fan - passed on to my two brothers .. I can still recall the theme music of Match of the Day and Jimmy Hill!!!! and having to endure it of a Saturday night/ Sunday afternoon..... still gives me nightmares :-)
OMG --- just did a search and its still going with the same theme music .. lol

by Wabat

MOTD is a Saturday night institution Albert!

by ToonSarah

Like I said I am not into football, but I like the way how you write about it. Mainz seems an interesting city! Have to visit it one day!

by Ils1976

Yes, I liked Mainz Ils, and I also like how football takes us to places like this that we might otherwise not visit!

by ToonSarah

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