***image1***No need to stray far from home during spring break for a dose of fun, educational European culture that children and adults will love.
I recently dragged my 13- and 10-year-old kids, affectionately known as Thing 1 and Thing 2, on a one-overnight trip to the Frankfurt area. Despite their initial objections, they had loads of fun visiting three major museums and a comedy play, together with another KMC family.
Day 1: Our first stop was the Landesmuseum in Mainz, “with the huge golden horse on top,” said Thing 2. The museum features beautiful, fascinating artifacts from Mainz’s renaissance, medieval and Roman past. One large room is nearly a full reconstructed street from Roman Mogontium, the Latin name for Mainz. Other rooms feature breathtaking 2,000-year-old Roman glasswork, as well as jewel-encrusted swords and scabbards, and lavish jewelry and household items from medieval days.
For the kids, the museum featured Roman children’s games: a shuffle-board type game played with chestnuts, tossing wine corks into the narrow neck of a Roman-style amphora (ceramic decanter for liquids), and a checkers-type game played with colored rocks on a wheel-shaped stone board. “These games rock,” said Thing
We stayed overnight at the Frankfurt Youth Hostel, a clean, modern place right on the Main River bank, in the Sachsenhausen area, famous for its quaint old restaurants and music clubs. For €15 per person per night, we had a four-bunk room with private bath. Breakfast and bed-linens were included. We were required to purchase a one-year hostel membership for €15.50, but that will be well-used in the future. Overnight parking was available in a nearby garage. Thing 1 recently stayed in the hostel on a school trip and highly recommends it to all families.
A 30-minute walk took us over the Main and through the chic streets to the English Theater of Frankfurt, on the Kaiserstrasse. We laughed till our sides ached at the cynical comedy “The Complete History of America, Abridged,” by The Reduced Shakespeare Company of London. The play did contain some adult language, but both Things assured me it was nothing they hadn’t heard on the bus, and in considerably better taste.
Day 2: Crossing the foot bridge into the heart of old Frankfurt, the Römerplatz, we caught the U-bahn (subway) to the Senckenberg natural history museum. This is by far the best museum of its kind we have ever visited.
Animal skeletons from the time of dinosaurs to the present are displayed in ways that captured the attention of Thing 1 and Thing 2 just as well now as when they were 4 and 6. A 19th-century collection of exotic animals from around the world shows just how long the museum has been informing the public.
***image2***Three floors in the recently renovated, majestic building cover mummies, fish, birds, bugs, planets, geology, volcanoes, prehistoric to modern plant life, fetal development and evolution of man, with many English explanations and plenty of hands-on, interactive exhibits.
Thing 2 and her friend Abby got friendly, dedicated help from a docent (museum guide) in creating complicated origami cranes. Both American girls speak German, and the nice docent worked with them for more than 30 minutes to complete the complex project. When I tried my German and asked for his name, he smiled and said, “Mr. Lee Conley, from Michigan.”
Later, he gave non-German-speaking boys Thing 1 and his friend Jim plenty of interesting information on the dinosaur bones, in English.
Our final stop was the Saalburg reconstructed Roman fortress, in the Taunus hills north of Frankfurt. This complete fortress, built on the foundations of the original, gives a living-history look at how centurions serving on the empire’s northern borders lived. Both artifacts and recreations show visitors the quality of the Roman tools, weapons, clothing and other daily wares.
Thing 1, Thing 2 and their friends had a blast playing the role of the native German tribes, running through the fortress, hiding in trenches and behind ruins, stalking their “Roman” parents through the outer courtyard.
For directions, opening times, prices and other information on these Frankfurt area attractions, visit their Web sites: Landesmuseum Mainz (German) www.landesmuseum-mainz.de/, Frankfurt Youth Hostel (English) www.jugendher berge-frankfurt.de/e-haus.htm, Senckenberg Museum (German) www.senckenberg.de, Saalburg reconstructed Roman fortress (English) www.saal burgmuseum.de/homeeng.htm.
Täglich 9 – 17 Uhr
Mittwoch bis 20 Uhr
Feiertage bis 18 Uhr Ausnahmen
nur 9 – 13 Uhr geöffnet:
Wäldchestag (=Dienstag nach Pfingsten)
Karfreitag, 24. Dezember,
31. Dezember, 1. Januar
Erwachsene (16 – 65 Jahre) 5,00 €
Erwachsene ab 66 Jahre
und Schwerbehinderte ab 50% 4,00 €
Kinder und Jugendliche (6 – 16 Jahre),
Wehrpflichtige, Zivildienstleistende, Schüler
und Studenten gegen Ausweis 2,50 €
Open daily, including Sundays and holidays
March through October
November through February
On December 24th and 31st 9.00 – 18.00
9.00 – 16.00
9.00 – 12.00
Adults – reduced*
Children under 6
Children / Youths (6-18)
Groups (20 persons or more)
– Children/Youths/Students 2,50 EUR
Dienstag 10:00 – 20:00 Uhr
Mittwoch-Sonntag 10:00 – 17:00 Uhr
Eintritt Erwachsene 2,00 Euro
Eintritt Familien 6,00 Euro
Samstags freier Eintritt in die Dauerausstellung
Season runs through July 17, with many shows still to come this year.