Train Trip to Mannheim
Germany: Main River Tour – Sightseeing in Mannheim (Mon 29th May 2017)
Weather: 17⁰C min – 33⁰C max, sunny
Another fine sunny day was predicted, perfect for my train trip to Mannheim. Not wishing to miss out on a bicycle space on the train, I set off on the 9 Km ride to Frankfurt HBF at 9 am, even though my train was not due to depart until 11:13 am.
Arriving so early at the station was a big mistake because it meant I had to resist all the food temptations for longer. The array of food options was amazing: bäckerei everywhere with freshly baked baguettes, croissants, pretzels, and pastry delights that have to be seen to be believed. It sure puts Sydney Airport to shame.
I needn’t have worried about getting my bike on the train, because the whole front carriage is reserved for bicycles and can accommodate at least twenty. With typical Germany precision, the train departed and arrived precisely on time. The 65 minute train trip to Mannheim was pleasant enough, passing through forests and lush green fields.
On arrival at Mannheim the first thing to note is that the city centre is laid out like a chess board, with no real street names. Addresses in the quadrat take the form of a grid reference, such as S6, designating a block, followed by a building number on that block, e.g., S6, 16. The streets themselves are not named, rather “S6” refers to the block itself.
First impressions of Mannheim are that it is more of an industrial city than a tourist mecca, with some parts of the CBD looking a little tired. According to Wikipedia, Mannheim was a beautiful city before World War II, but was flattened in bomb raids due to its industrial significance. When it was time to rebuild the city, Mannheim, like many other German cities, opted for an all out modern approach to urban development. Thus, most of the old quarters were replaced by buildings typical of the 1950s and their appeal is not easy to grasp.
Having said that, after further exploration on my bike I did manage to find some lovely green areas, in particular the Friedrichsplatz, one of the largest and most beautiful art nouveau areas of Europe. One street I cycled through did have some beautifully architected old buildings.
Modern Mannheim is the second biggest city in Baden-Württemberg and one of the hotspots of immigration. There is therefore a lively and colourful mixture of nationalities and cultures in the city.
Tomorrow should be an interesting day, as I will be cycling around a 50 Km route I have created to explore the villages of Käfertal, Heddesheim, Großsachsen, and Feudenheim where my mother’s paternal ancestors, the Frauenfelders, lived until emigrating to Albury NSW in 1853.