Mainz and Wiesbaden

From Bingen I cycled on to Mainz the next day.  While a short ride of only around 30km, it rained the whole way, making it a long and miserable day.  I threw my soaking tent on the back of the bike and donned my waterproof pants, jacket, and shoe covers and braved the consistent rain.  It soon became evident that my wet weather gear could only hold off the rain for a couple of hours, after that it soaked through my arms and my legs, though it kept my core mostly dry.

I paused in Elteville to eat some lunch under the meagre shelter of a tree in what I think was the castle complex.  It was a shame the weather was so poor because Elteville looked like a gorgeous wee town and I would have like to look around.  
Gorgeous autumn colours.
I arrived in Mainz around 4.30pm and tried to see the Gutenberg museum, but it was closed, so I stopped in a café next door and tried to dry off a little while I waited for my couchsurfing host to finish work. I met my host Begum at the railway station and we caught a bus to her place, managing to get the bike on board!  After a nice hot shower and hanging up my tent and tarp to dry, I was treated to a lovely dinner with Begum and her husband Arno.  Begum made an amazing pumpkin soup and we had a long and interesting conversation about all sorts of things including learning more about Turkey, Begum's home country.

The following morning we went to a forest near Bingen to meet a group of people who were going mushroom picking.  It was great fun and really educational to see the variety of mushrooms in the forest and the number of ones that are edible.  Quite a few of the ones I thought would be poisonous turned out to be completely edible, and we took home a few violet ones and orange ones to cook for lunch.  They were tasty, but not particularly different from your average grey button mushrooms.
Foraging for mushrooms.
Edible violet mushroom.
Edible orange mushroom.
Arno and Begum had to be off to a friend’s polterabend for the evening, but had very kindly organised another host for me to stay with that night, since the weather was down to two degrees overnight.  That afternoon I went into town to see the Gutenberg Museum.  Gutenberg was the inventor of the printing press, and they had a number of the first edition of the Bible he had printed on display.  There were also exhibits about aspects of book making and the history of books and printing.  I saw a replica of a surviving girdle book with a suede cover extending up to be tied onto a belt around the waist.  Sadly no photography was allowed in the museum.  Also sadly there were a number of guided talks and practical displays but they were all in German and I didn’t understand enough to know what was going on.  If you speak German this would be a fantastic museum!  

Afterwards I wandered around the central city area and bought some roasted chestnuts and a glass of federweisser from a stand on the street. This was my first taste of roast chestnuts, quite nice and sort of sweet - verdict: okay.  I was approached by a man while I was standing about drinking my wine who had noticed my bike and me carrying my helmet.  He wanted to know where I was going and what I was doing cycling in Germany at this time of year, apparently it was far too cold and I should have come earlier.  Inclined to agree about the weather, I explained my journey and chatted for a little while with him and his friend. 
The Federweisser stand.
Roast chestnut seller.
My host for the night was in Wiesbaden, the sister city of Mainz, just across the river.  Talley, a German with American parents and therefore great English with an American accent, turned out to be a very hospitable host and also quite a celebrity in Germany when it comes to minimising food waste.  She explained to me that she had been working with various groups on projects to reduce waste, including organising dinners in her home using food gained through dumpster diving, running big outdoor cooking events using waste food (called Schnippel parties), and even appearing in a film about the issue.  Check out an interview with Talley here.  She was a very talkative host and we could have been in conversation for days, but I had to leave the next morning to head to Westhofen and my next host.


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