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Jul 1, 2011

Mainzer Johannisnacht Festival

This past Saturday, D and I finally got to get out of our hotel room and experience some of what Germany has to offer. Frankly, I was nervous. Even though we had spent part of Thursday and most of Friday out running around town, we really never encountered anyone German. We had mostly been on base doing paperwork, meeting people, and getting dragged around like helpless puppy dogs. Saturday was going to be the first time we were going to get to submerge ourselves in the culture.

We woke up to light rain and a cool 59 degree temperature outside. Wowza, had I packed wrong. My suitcase is full of sundresses, shorts, and sandals. This was jeans, cardigan, and ballet flats weather...thank God I thought to bring a few of each to tide me over on these wacky cold days in the middle of summer. I would have been more thrilled about the chilliness had I packed a few more cold weather outfits, but I can make due since these types of days are few and far between. From what we've heard, the average temps here in the summer range from the freak 55 degree coldness to a smokin' 90 degrees. Both extremes are very rare and it's usually around 75-80...thankfully. Friday, we had gotten in contact with one of our good friends from high school (who was also a groomsman in our wedding) who is stationed at Ramstein and asked if we could meet up and hang out. Since he's been living here in Germany for about 2 years, we knew he'd be able to show us around a bit. D and I are pretty good about getting out and exploring on our own, but this is a whole new ballgame and the language barrier was what worried us the most. Not having a car also made exploring hard, obviously. So, Josh to the rescue! He drove about an hour north of Ramstein just to see us! What a sweetie! :)

It was wonderful and surreal to see him, in a foreign country no less. We chatted and marveled at how nuts it was that we were all here together, then decided to head to the city of Mainz for their annual Mainzer Johannisnacht (Mainz Midsummer) Festival on the Rhine river. Although it was rainy (off and on) and a bit cold, we had a great time exploring the city and trying our first bites of real German food! The festival reminded me alot of the local fair back home in NC...lots of vendors with food, stages booming with musical entertainment, and of course lots of crazies which made for good for people watching. After spending an hour trying to find parking downtown, we finally made our way into the festival crowds. Right off the bat, I could tell we were going to stick out like sore thumbs. This was mainly because...we matched. Our clothes, I mean. I knew European's dressed differently than Americans, but I never expected to see such a wide range of patterned fabrics forced together on one human body. It's quite fascinating, actually. Apparently anything goes, because I've never seen so many men wearing capris in my life!! I recently learned they are sometimes referred to  as "Manpris" (thanks Wendy!). Super hilarious. To me, it just adds to the enchantment of this whole experience. It wouldn't be as cool if they didn't dress so outlandishly. Seriously.

We spent a while wandering around taking in the sights. Our stomachs were all growling so we stopped at this little tent where all kinds of sausages, steaks, and veggies were being grilled. It smelled so good that we couldn't resist trying it out. Josh had eaten somewhere like this before, so we took his advice and ordered a steak sandwich with onions and curry ketchup. It was pretty tasty and I was surprised I liked it! I'm not the biggest fan of large hunks of meat, but the bread it came on totally sold me. Best bread I've ever put into my mouth! I cannot wait to try more! We walked down a little ways and found this adorably kitschy Biergarten with ladies dressed to the nines in lederhosen. The boys jumped right on that! Beer and broads...lethal combination...but I obliged. D was stoked to finally be able to try his first German beer, in Germany! 

Happy boy!

The Biergarten

 Steak sandwich, anyone?

 Festival in full swing!

While walking around the festival, we got to see some of the city of Mainz. I finally caught a firsthand look at the beautiful German timber framed buildings I had been looking for! As if all the people speaking German wasn't enough, seeing the iconic German architecture really solidified we were now residents of this amazing country!

I mean c'mon...how freakin' cute are they!

Beautiful cobblestone streets and alleyways that seem to go on forever.

In the center of the city we saw St. Stephen's Church. It was built in 990 and sprawls atop one of the highest hills in Mainz. We decided not to go inside merely because of all the festival we still hadn't seen, but from the outside, it was quite ominous and Gothic. As nice as it was to see a piece of religious history in Germany, the church belfry was under construction and all the scaffolding kind of ruined my photos. And I never actually got to take a photo of the front of the church...too many vendors tents in the way. Really the only disappointment of the day. Here are the photos anyway:

It was getting late in the afternoon and Josh was going to have a nice hour drive ahead of him (and we had dinner plans), so we decided to start making our way out of the festival to our car. Along the way out, a food vendor's tent caught my eye...and my stomach's attention. As if the steak sandwich wasn't rich and fattening enough, I stopped at a creperie tent to get a Banane und Nutella Crepe! It. Was. Divine. Literally one of the best desserts I have ever put into my mouth! D only got one bite...don't mess with a girl and her chocolate!

If you're drooling over your keyboard right now then you've got the right idea. Now I want to try a crepe in Paris to see who's is better!

Overall, our festival experience was everything I could have hoped for. We only encountered 1 person who couldn't speak English (one of the beer servers at the Biergarten) but was able to order beer anyway! Guess alcohol is the universal language. I am SO looking forward to all of the festivals we are sure to visit during our time here. As for the next blog post, I will be introducing you to Sponsor 2 and recounting our fabulous dinner and sight-seeing in downtown Wiesbaden last Saturday night...my favorite experience thus far!

Until next time...


  1. All your posts make me want to get stationed in Europe (or at least somewhere exotic) so bad! I'm insanely jealous of the scenery and architecture you get to live near! Live it up & enjoy! Also, make sure you post lots of pictures!

  2. The banana and Nutella crepe that I had on the Champs-Élysées was otherworldly.

    Don't forget about the (Liege) Belgian waffles, too! Get them plain, w/ just the crystal sugar (or zucker for you, now) they put on them. C'est magnifique!

  3. How did I miss that you were already in Germany? Ugh. Have I been that bad of a follower? I have been MIA on my blog lately, lots going on here at the moment. Once my kiddos go to bed I'm gonna have to sit down and read all that I've missed so far from your blog. I need to catch up!


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