What if you could turn back the hands of time and re-visit a place you haven’t seen in a couple of decades. Would you find that it has been frozen in time? It’s unlikely. Just as you have changed, it has probably changed.
Has this ever happened to you? You’re walking down the street and someone calls your name. At first, you don’t recognize them but, if you pause, it will come to you. There is an essence to people and places that make them familiar even after they have undergone external transformation.
That’s the experience I had when I returned to Mainz today.
As a summer flight attendant when I was at university, I spent 4 glorious days during a layover in Mainz. I went for walks along the river, strolled along the historic cobblestone streets, and took a cruise to Bacharach, a town that is over 1,000 years old.
Once my registration for IMEX 2012 was confirmed, I very much wanted to experience Mainz again. The agenda was tight but I was determined to work it into my plan.
I landed in Frankfurt early this morning. After an attempt at a nap and a tour of Frankfurt, I boarded a train and headed for Mainz.
At first. nothing was familiar. There are a lot of new buildings. Then, I turned a corner and in a flash a tall white and orange tower jumped out at me. I instantly knew that I had seen it before.
I strolled along the river towards the Hilton Hotel where I had once stayed. Mainz is beautifully situated. In the park that stretches along the Rhine mothers were pushing their strollers, people were cycling, and roller blading. Friends were relaxing and taking in the gentle breeze of the late afternoon.
When I saw it, I broke out into a huge silly grin. It was a small glass stall and a sign that read “Eis des Mainz”. Just as I had done all those years ago, I stepped up to the window. I said “Ein eis mit Früchten bittte” (which is pretty well the extent of my German). It was a cool, refreshing, and familiar strawberry flavoured treat, just what I needed after a long walk.
When I finished my treat, I turned up the street that lead to the hotel. I didn’t see it and thought it was gone. Somehow, I had an instinct to keep heading in a certain direction. Finally, I came to it. It was situated where I remembered it but it was different.
The Mainz Hilton has been completely re-furbished and the section across the street has been expanded. I introduced my self to the staff and they updated me about the changes that have taken place in the area.
I headed through the restaurant to take in a faimliar view. The boat still departs for Bacharach at 8:45 AM. A man was also taking in the view. Talk about serrendipidity. He was an Air Canada Crew member on layover.
I strolled, took more photos of parks, gardens, statues, and cathedrals. The historical lived side by side in harmony with the modern.
I’m surprised that I did not recognize more of Mainz. When I get back to Toronto, I’ll need to have a look at the photos in my album. I remembered Mainz but most of the details of my memories have faded. Over the years, like faded photographs, your memory of the details may grow dim but the feelings and joy derived from interacting with people and places we love remain forever.
Mainz is familiar but it has changed. One thing that has not changed is the absolute pleasure, delight, and feeling of relaxation that my 2 visits, though separated by years, have brought me. After all, that is what happens when you re-connect with an old friend.
I enjoyed Weiner Schnitzel for dinner at Hintz & Kuntz. There is seating in front of the restaurant on the cobblestones with a beautiful view of the square that houses the Gutenberg Museum and a beautiful cathedral. The menu was in German but the staff was really gracious and I had a great time.
I took the train back to Frankfurt. I wanted to share a more personal side of this visit with you.
If you’re looking for an unforgettable place to visit in Germany, select Mainz. You’ll fall in love with it just as I did so many years ago. This love affair was re-kindled today. Take a peek at Mainz.
If you have always wanted to return to a place you once loved, go for it. It will be like becoming re-acquainted with an old, familiar friend who you have not seen in years. If you are organizing a foreign retreat or incentive travel, seize the opportunity to introduce your team to your old friend.