When we first arrived, we felt...
When we first arrived, we felt that the German people were rude and cold people. As we've become friends with several Germans, we've learned that what we were seeing as rude and unfriendly was really just a difference in culture. We were used to casual smiles or a friendly nod from strangers as we went along our buisness in the US. Our German friends have told us that here, those things are reserved more for friends. When we smiled or said hi to a German stranger and received a blank stare in return, it wasn't rudeness. Often it was simply confusion--they were trying to remember if they knew us.
Now that we understand this part of the culture we can say that the German people in general have been quite warm and welcoming to us. (except when exiting/boarding trains and busses--they lose all sense of politeness!)
There are some ferry boats over the Neckar river, over the Rhine river. The ferries are for cars, bikes and pedestrians. Near Grosskraftwerk (Altrip on the left Rhine side) is a ferry, there is another one which goes from Edingen to Ladenburg over the Neckar river, and one to the so called Friesenheimer island (you have to use this ferry when you make the Rheintalweg by bike). This is the one you see on my pic
The excitement of industrialization
(Update: April 2009: new website added; tip & text are from February 2007)
If you like special museums with educational value, then I highly recommend Landesmuseum für Arbeit und Technik (State Museum for Technology and Labour Development) in Mannheim.
In a specially designed (barrier free) building next to Luisenpark’s southern entrance you can immerse into the world of industrialization since 18th century, with emphasis on the local technologies.
No place in Germany can be better for such a museum than Mannheim, as it was a cradle for very important developments such as cars (Carl Benz), the draisine or first bicycle (Freiherr von Drais) and tractors (Heinrich Lanz; John Deere).
The 5 floors do have an interesting concept for moving on – you best start in the upper floor and make your way down on stairs, in elevators or on the ramp, which encompasses the exhibition levels.
The collections cover science and technology development from 18th century on, energy and textile technology, printing, information technology and many more.
It is a hands-on museum for anyone – not only for the kids. I could spend hours there and always come back for more. You can make paper for example, just like in the old days or feel how printers must have felt (sour muscles) after pressing and turning the wheels and pedals.
The museum employees are spread around in the buildings, answer all questions, help with the machines and are really very much friendly and highly knowledgeable !
The museum hosts very exciting special exhibitions, like Adventure Space (until April 9, 2007), and now, as Mannheim celebrates 400 years in 2007, three special exhibitions about Mannheim’s role over these years did develop.
Opening hours:: Tu, Thu, Fr: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Wed: 9 a.m. – 8 p.m., Sat, Sun: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.;
Admission fee: adults: 3 €, kids: 2 €.
A memorial to the "Rubble Women"
Masses of tourists leave the Jesuit church, aahing and oohing about the beautiful interior and when they step out, they pass another memorial, without seeing it. The tourists are really not to be blamed for overlooking this memorial, as it seems to be one where the city council couldn't make up their mind - should we have one or shouldn't we? The result is a memorial which looks like one of the huts you see in zoos for guinea pigs and pet rabbits.
As it stands on grass, I suppose that's what most people think it is.
However, when you step closer and look at it, you realize, that it shows sculptured women who are cleaning away rubble and bricks on the streets, using them to rebuild bombed houses.
After WWII, many women did just that, cleaning the streets of rubble, trying to rebuild some houses, while at the same time caring for their children, with their husbands being either dead, or missing or prisoners-of-war. These women are called Trümmerfrauen - which I would translate to rubble women.
They certainly deserve a memorial site, but not one that looks like a rabbit hut.
Opera in Mannheim
If you'd like to see a light-hearted opera with beautiful melodies, lovely duets and a happy end for all but one of the characters, find out if the National Theater in Mannheim happens to be playing Gaetano Donizetti's L'Elisir d'Amore while you are there.
This is actually an ex-Frankfurt production that Mannheim bought the rights to after the Frankfurt Opera had revived it repeatedly over a period of several years.
Yes, there is a character named Nemorino in this opera, sung by a tenor with a classic aria Una furtiva lagrima near the end. Nemorino is rather shy and is spurned by his beloved Adina until he gets a bottle of Doctor Dulcamara's world-famous love potion, which is actually just ordinary red wine.
My most recent visit to Mannheim was to see an opera called Les Troyens by Hector Berlioz.
This is another example of a HUGE monumental opera that is seldom performed in Germany (or anywhere else as far as I know), but which I managed to see twice in two different productions in the 2003/2004 season.
The first was in Leipzig, where thanks to a timely business trip I was able to attend the premiere of their magnificent production last November.
In Mannheim it was musically just as good, but the staging in Mannheim was unfortunately quite silly and not always comprehensible. (In general I like modern staging if I can make sense of it, and I usually defend the stage directors in post-opera pub discussions, but this time I had to admit it was pretty weak.)
So DO see Les Troyens if you like big operas, but if you have the choice see it in Leipzig and not in Mannheim. (The English National Opera in London is also doing it in September/October 2004, if that is any help.)
Investigation in progress:
As an out-of-towner I don't have any recommendation (yet) about where to go for a drink in Mannheim after the opera. This last time we just had a beer at the station while waiting for our trains, hers was the 23:48 to Mainz and mine was the 23:49 to Frankfurt.